Skip to main content

Full text of "The illustrated natural history"

See other formats







" - <i 






J. G. WOOD, M.A., F.L.S., 





d-c. cfr. it-c 





And at Bungay, Suffolk. 



As this Volume is conducted on precisely the same principles as those which 
characterised the two previous instalments of the work, no introductory preface is 
needful. I cannot, however, dismiss the Volume without returning my sincere thanks 
to the many friends who have aided me by their valuable assistance. 

More especially are my acknowledgments due to those eminent naturalists, such 
as Mr. Blackwall and Mr. Busk, who' liberally permitted the use of figures taken 
from unpublished volumes ; and to the officers connected with the Zoological Department 
of the British Museum, without whose constant assistance I could not have carried 
out so laborious a task. 

LONDON, 1863. 



THE remarkable beings which are classed together under the general title of KEPTILES, 

or creeping animals, are spread over those portions of the globe where the climate is 

tolerably warm, and are found in the greatest profusion under the hotter latitudes. 

Impatient of cold, though capable of sustaining a temperature of such freezing chilliness 

3. B 


that any of the higher animals would perish under its severity, and for the most part being 
lovers of wet and swampy situations, the Reptiles swarm within the regions near the 
equator, and in the rivers or vast morasses of the tropical countries the very soil appears to 
teem with their strange and varied forms. Indeed, the number of Reptiles to be found in 
any country is roughly indicated by the parallels of latitude, the lands near the equator 
being the most prolific in these creatures, and containing fewer as they recede towards the 

Some Reptiles inhabit the dry and burning deserts ; but the generality of these 
creatures are semi-aquatic in their habits, are fitted by their structure for progression on 
land or in water, and are able to pass a considerable time below the surface without 
requiring to breathe. 

This capacity is mostly the result of the manner in which the circulation and aeration 
of their blood is effected. 

As has been shown in the two volumes on Mammalia and Birds, the heart in 
these animals is divided into a double set of compartments, technically termed auricles 
and ventricles, each set having no direct communication with the other. In the Reptiles, 
however, this structure is considerably modified, the arterial and venous blood finding a 
communication either within or just outside the two ventricles, so that the blood is never 
so perfectly aerated as in the higher animals. The blood is consequently much colder 
than in the creatures where the oxygen obtains a freer access to its particles. 

In consequence of this organization the whole character of the Reptiles is widely 
different from that of the higher animals. Dull sluggishness seems to be the general 
character of a Reptile, for though there are some species which whisk about with 
lightning speed, and others, especially the larger lizards, can be lashed into a state o? 
terrific frenzy by love, rage, or hunger, their ordinary movements are inert, their gestures 
express no feeling, and their eyes, though bright, are stony, cold, and passionless. Their 
mode of feeding accords with the general habits of their bodies, and the process of 
digestion is peculiarly slow. 

Most of the Reptiles possess four legs, but are not supported wholly upon them, their 
bellies reaching the ground and being dragged along by the limbs. One or two species 
can support themselves in the air while passing from one tree to another, much after 
the fashion of the flying squirrels; and in former days, when Reptiles were apparently 
the highest race on the surface of the earth, certain species were furnished with wing-like 
developments of limb and skin, and could apparently flap their way along like the bats of 
the present time. 

Excepting some of the tortoise tribe, the Reptiles are carnivorous beings, and many of 
them, such as the crocodiles and alligators, are among the most terrible of rapacious 
creatures. In this class of animals we find the first examples of structures which trans- 
mute Nature's harmless gifts into poison, a capacity which is very common in the later 
orders, such as the spiders and insects, and is developed to a terrible extent in some of 
the very lowest beings that possess animal life, rendering them most formidable even 
to man. 

The skeleton of a true Reptile, from which class the Batrackians, i.e. the frogs, 
salamanders, and their kin are excluded, for reasons which will presently be given, is 
composed of well-ossified bones, and is peculiarly valuable to the physiologist. It is well 
known to all who have studied the rudiments of anatomy, that each bone is formed from 
several centres, so to speak, consisting of mere cartilaginous substance at its earliest 
formation, and becoming gradually ossified from several spots. 

In the young of the higher animals these centres are only seen during their 
very earliest stages, and are by degrees so fused together that all trace of them is 
obliterated. But in the Reptiles it is found that many of the bones either remain in their 
separate parts, or leave so distinct a mark at the place where they unite, that their shape 
and dimensions are clearly shown. In the head of the adult crocodile, for example, the 
frontal bone is composed of five distinct pieces, the temporal of at least five pieces, and 
each side of the lower jaw-bone is composed of either five or six portions united by 


With the exception of the tortoises, the Eeptiles mostly possess a gooaly array of 
teeth, set in the jaw or palate, and as a general fact, being sharp and more or less curved 
backward. Their bodies are covered with various modifications of the structure termed 
the dermal, i.e. skin skeleton, and are furnished with scales and plates of different forms. 
In some cases the scales lie overlapping each other like those of the fish, in others they 
are modified into knobby plates, and in some, of which the tortoises afford well-known 
examples, they form large flat plates on the back and breast, and scales upon the feet 

and legs. 

The young of Reptiles are produced from eggs, mostly being hatched after .they have 
been laid, but in some cases the young escape from the eggs before they make their 
appearance in the world. As a general fact, however, the eggs of Reptiles are placed in 
some convenient spot, where they are hatched by the heat of the sun. Some species are 


very jealous about their eggs, keeping a strict watch over them, and several of the larger 
serpents have a curious fashion of laying the eggs in a heap, and then coiling themselves 
around them in a great hollow cone. The size of the eggs is extremely variable, for, 
although as a general fact those of the smaller Reptiles are large in proportion to the 
dimensions of the parent, those of the crocodiles and alligators are wonderfully small, not 
larger than those of our domestic geese, and in many cases much smaller. They are 
usually of a dull white colour, and in some instances are without a brittle shell, their 
covering being of a tough leathery consistence. 

In form, and often in colour, the Reptiles exhibit an inexhaustible variety, and even 
each order displays a diversity of outward aspect unexampled in the two previous classes 
of Mammals and Birds. Strange, grotesque, and oftentimes most repulsive in appearance, 
though sometimes adorned with the brightest tints, the Reptiles excite an instinctive 
repugnance in the human breast ; and whether it be a lizard, a snake, or a tortoise, the 
sudden and unsuspected contact of one of these beings will cause even the most 
habituated to recoil from its cold touch. This antipathy may, perhaps, have some con- 
nexion with the instinctive association of cold with death ; but whatever may be the 
cause, the feeling is deep and universal. 


THE very curious reptiles which are known by the general name of Tortoises, are 
remarkable for affording the first example of a skeleton brought to the exterior of the body, 
a formation which is frequent enough in the lower orders, the crustaceans and insects 

being familiar examples thereof. 
In these reptiles the bones of the 
chest are developed into a curious 
kind of box, more or less perfect, 
which contains within itself all 
the muscles and the viscera, and 
in most cases can receive into its 
cavity the head, neck, and limbs ; 
in one genus so effectually, that 
when the animal has withdrawn 
its limbs and head, it is contained 
in a tightly closed case without 
any apparent opening. 

The shell of the Tortoise is 
divided into two portions, the 
upper being termed the carapace, 
and the lower the plastron. 

The carapace is formed by a 
remarkable development of the 
vertebras and ribs, which throw 
out flat processes, and are joined 
together by sutures like the bones 
of the skull. The back is there- 
fore incapable of movement, and 
from the arched shape of the 
bones is wonderfully strong when 
resting on the ground. In the 
Tortoises these bones are united 
throughout their entire length, 
but in the Turtles the ends of the 
ribs retain their original width. 

The plastron is similarly formed 
of the breastbone, which is thought 
in these creatures to be developed 
to the greatest extent of which it 
is capable. It is composed of 
nine pieces, each being formed 
from one of the bony centres 
already mentioned. These bones 
are arranged in four pairs, and 
one in the centre of the front. 

all the limbs have to be worked from the interior of the chest, amid the vital 
and muscles for moving them, they undergo considerable modification. The 
shoulder-blade, for example, is a curious three-branched bone, quite unique among 




vertebrate animals, the portion which represents the true shoulder-blade being almost 
cylindrical, one of the branches flattened, and the other cylindrical, but larger than the 
real blade-bone. This structure admits of the attachment of powerful muscles, and gives 
to the fore limbs the great strength which is needed for digging, swimming, climbing, and 
various modes of exertion. The strong curved bones of the fore limbs bear an evident 
analogy to the corresponding parts in the mole, with its powerful claws and feet, and its 
very long blade-bone. 

The horny substance commonly termed " tortoiseshell," which is spread in flattened 
plates on the exterior of the bony case, is thought to be a modification of the scales found 
on lizards, serpents, &c., and which exist on the legs and other parts of the Tortoises 
themselves. The row of horny pieces which are found on the edge of the carapace also 
belong to the " dermal skeleton." 

The Tortoises are quite devoid of teeth, the edge of the jaws being sharp and horny, 
so as to inflict a severe wound ; and in many species one or both jaws are sharply hooked 
at the tip like a falcon's beak. The neck is always rather long, and in many species can be 
protruded to a considerable extent. Generally, the process of thrusting the neck from 
the shell is a slow one, but the withdrawal is accomplished with marvellous rapidity, on 
account of certain long muscles which tie the heck to the back of the carapace. Possibly 
these muscles, together with their tendons, would, when dried in the baking sunshine, 
produce musical sounds when touched, and thus give rise to the old poetical legend of 
the origin of the lyre. 

The brain of the Tortoise is very small in proportion to the size of the animal, in the 
turtle weighing not quite one five-thousandth part of the whole body, and in the land 
Tortoise about one two-thousandth part. In man the brain is about one-fortieth the 
weight of the body. 

The Tortoises produce their young from eggs, mostly soft and leathery in the texture of 
their covering, which are laid in some convenient spot, and left to be hatched by heat not 
derived from the parent. The circulation in the Tortoise is not very complete, but the 
arterial blood is redder and brighter than the venous. 

IN the true TOKTOISES the feet are club-shaped and the claws blunt, and the neck can 
be wholly withdrawn within the shell 

The first example of these creatures is the GOPHEE, or MUNGOFA TOETOISE, a native 
of America. This is a rather pretty, though not brightly coloured species, its shell 
being mostly brownish yellow, boldly and variously clouded with rich dark brown. 
The lower jaw is yellow, and the whole of the plastron is yellow-brown. It is found 
plentifully in Georgia and Alabama, but according to Mr. Holbrook is not seen farther 
north than Soulh Carolina. When full grown it is a moderately large species, from 
thirteen to more than fourteen inches in length, and very convex. The following 
interesting account of its habits is given by Mr. Holbrook in his valuable "North 
American Herpetology : " 

"They select dry and sandy places, are generally found in troops, and are very 
abundant in pine-barren countries. They are gentle in their habits, living entirely on 
vegetable substances. They are fond of the sweet potato (Convolvulus batatas], and at 
times do much injury to gardens by destroying melons, as well as bulbous roots, &c. &c. 
In the wild state they are represented as nocturnal animals, or as seeking their food by 
night : when domesticated and I have kept many of them for years they may be seen 
grazing at all hours of the day. 

When first placed in confinement, they chose the lowest part of the garden, where they 
could most easily burrow. This spot being once overflowed by salt water in a high spring- 
tide, they migrated to the upper part, nearly eighty yards distant, and prepared anew 
their habitations. They seldom wandered far from their holes, and generally spent part 
of the day in their burrows. They delighted in the sun in mild weather, but could not 
support the intense heat of our summer noons ; at those hours they retreated to their 
holes, or sought shelter from the scorching rays of the sun under the shade of broad- 
leaved plants. A tanyer (Arum esculentum) that grew near their holes was a favourite 


haunt. They could not endure rain, and retreated hastily to their burrows, or to other 
shelter, at the coming on of a shower. 

As winter approached, they confined themselves to the immediate neighbourhood of 
their holes, and basked in the sunshine. As the cold increased, they retired to their 
burrows, where they became torpid ; a few warm days, however, even in winter, would 
again restore them to life and activity. 

The adults are remarkably strong, sustaining and moving with a weight of two 
hundred pounds or more. The female is generally larger than the male, with the sternum 
convex ; the sternum of the male is concave, especially on its posterior part. The eggs 
are larger than those of a pigeon, round, with a hard calcareous shell ; they are much 
esteemed as an article of food." 

PERHAPS the best known species of these creatures is the COMMON LAND TOETOISE, so 
frequently exposed for sale in our markets, and so favourite an inhabitant of gardens. 

This appears to be the only species that inhabits Europe, and even in that continent it 
is by no means widely spread, being confined to those countries which border the 

It is one of the vegetable feeders, eating various plants, and being very fond of lettuce 
leaves, which it crops in a rather curious manner, biting them off sharply when fresh and 
crisp, but dragging them asunder when stringy, by putting the fore feet upon them, and 
pulling with the jaws. This Tortoise will drink milk, and does so by opening its mouth, 
scooping up the milk in its lower jaw, as if with a spoon, and then raising its head to let 
the liquid run down its throat. 

One of these animals, which I kept for some time, displayed a remarkable capacity for 
climbing, and was very fond of mounting upon various articles of furniture, stools being 
its favourite resort. It revelled in warmth, and could not be kept away from the hearth- 
rug, especially delighting to climb upon a footstool that generally lay beside the fender. 
It used to clamber on the stool in a rather ingenious manner. First it got on its hind 
legs, rearing itself against the angle formed by the stool and fender. Then it would 
slowly raise one of its hind legs, hitch the claws into a hole in the fender, and raise itself 


very gradually, until it could fix the claws of the other hind foot into the thick carpet- 
work of the stool. A few such steps would bring it to the top of the stool, when it would 
fall down flat, crawl close to the fender, and there lie motionless. If it were taken off 
twenty times a day, and carried to the other end of the room, it would always be found in 
its favourite resort in a few minutes. 

This Tortoise had a curious kind of voice, not unlike the mewing of a little kittea 
The Common Tortoise is known to live to a great age, and an interesting account of one 
of these animals may be found in White's " Selborne." 

To this genus belongs a very large species, worthy of a passing description. This is 
the great INDIAN TORTOISE (Testudo Indica], a native of the Galapagos. This species is 
also known scientifically by the name of Testudo planiceps. Mr. Darwin writes as follows 
of this animal and its habits : " The Tortoise is very fond of water, drinking large 
quantities, and wallowing in the mud. The larger islands alone produce springs, and 
these are always situated toward the central parts, and at a considerable elevation. Hence 
broad and well-beaten paths radiate in every direction from the wells, even down to the 
sea-coast ; and the Spaniards, by following them up, first discovered the watering-places. 

When landed at Chatham Island, I could not imagine what animal travelled so 
methodically along the well-beaten tracks. Near the springs it was a curious spectacle to 
behold many of these great monsters, one set eagerly travelling onwards with outstretched 
necks, and another set returning, after having drunk their fill. When the Tortoise arrives 
at the spring, quite regardless of any spectator, it buries its head in the water above its 
eyes, and greedily swallows great mouthfuls, at the rate of about ten in a minute. The 
inhabitants say each animal stays three or four days in the neighbourhood of the water, 
and then returns to the lower country. 

For some time after a visit to the springs the. bladder is distended with fluid, which is 
said gradually to decrease in volume, and to become less pure. The inhabitants, when 
walking in the lower districts, and overcome with thirst, often take advantage of this 
circumstance by killing a Tortoise, and, if the bladder is full, drinking the contents. In 
one I saw killed, the fluid was quite limpid, and had only a very slightly bitter taste. 


The inhabitants, however, always drink first the water in the pericardium, which is 
described as being best." 

The flesh of these Tortoises is very good, and is largely eaten, both fresh and salted. 
A clear oil is also obtained from the fat. Those who catch these Tortoises do not choose 
to go through the trouble of cutting up and dressing an animal that is riot quite fat, and, 
as the fitness of its condition cannot be ascertained by the ordinary process, a summary 
method is employed, viz. cutting a slit through the softer skin near the tail, so as to show 
the fat under the carapace. Should the Tortoise be in poor condition, it is allowed to go 
free, and, with the imperturbable temperament of the reptile race, seems to care little for 
the wound. 

Dr. Livingstone mentions a species of Land Tortoise which is remarkable for its love 
of salt, and the extreme strength of the shell, which, as will be seen, baffles even the teeth 
of the hysena, which can crush an ox-bone with ease. 

" Occasionally we lighted upon Land Tortoises, which, with their unlaid eggs, make a 
very agreeable dish. We saw many of their trails leading to the salt fountains ; they 
must have come great distances for this health-giving article. In lieu thereof they often 
devour wood-ashes. The young are taken for the sake of their shells, which, when filled 
with sweet-smelling roots, the women hang around their persons. When taken it is used 
as food, and the shell converted into a rude basin to hold food or water. 

It owes its continuance neither to speed nor cunning. Its colour, yellow and dark- 
brown, is well adapted, by its similarity to the surrounding grass and brushwood, to render 
it un distinguishable ; and though it makes an awkward attempt to run on the approach of 
man, its trust is in its bony covering, from which even the teeth of a hyaena glance off 

When this long-lived creature is about to deposit her eggs, she lets herself into the 
ground by throwing the earth up around her shell until only the top is visible ; then, 
covering up the eggs, she leaves them until the rains begin to fall, and the fresh herbage 
appears ; the young ones then come out, their shells still quite soft, and unattended by 
their dam, begin the world for themselves. Their food is tender grass, and a plant named 
' thotona,' and they frequently resort to heaps of ashes, and places containing efflorescence 
of the nitrates for the salts these contain." 

THE curious Tortoise which is known only by the comparatively scientific name of 
PYXIS inhabits several parts of the world, and is not uncommon in some portions of India 
and Madagascar, from which latter localities the specimens in the British Museum have 
been brought. 

In common with one or two other species, hereafter to be described, the Pyxis has the 
power of drawing its head, neck, and limbs within the shell and then shutting itself down 
by means of a Hd, formed by the movable front of the sternum. In most of this tribe 
of reptiles, the sternum is hard and immovable, but in the Pyxis, it moves on a 
leathery kind of hinge, so as to open when the creature wishes to thrust out its head and 
limbs, and to close firmly when it withdraws within the shelter of its bony armour. 

In order to permit of this total withdrawal into the shell, the carapace is oval and 
more convex than is usually the case, so as to afford a sufficient space for the reception of 
the head and limbs. These, too, are rather diminutive in proportion to the size of the 
animal, and so formed as to be packed into a small compass. The Tortoise employs this 
curious mode of guarding its vulnerable points whenever it fears danger, and is then so 
securely locked up in its armour-plates that it is safe from almost every enemy except 
man. The word Pyxis is Greek, and is very appropriately given to this species, its 
signification being a box. 

The Pyxis is a pretty, but not a large species. The colour is extremely variable, 
scarcely any two individuals being precisely alike, but the general colours are yellow and 
black. On the carapace the plates are marked with a number of radiating triangular 
spots, and on the plates which edge the shell there are lines of black. Below, the 
yellow generally takes a more orange tint, and is diversified with black marks round 
its edge. 

THE PYXIS. Pyxis arachnoidet. 

PYXIS. Under side with closed shell.) 

WE now come to a group of Tortoises called TERRAPINS. 

These creatures are inhabitants of the water, and are mostly found in rivers. They 
are carnivorous in their diet and take their food while in the water. They may be known 
by their flattened heads, covered with skin, sometimes hard but often of a soft consistency, 
and their broad feet with the toes webbed as far as the claws. 

The LETTERED TORTOISE is, together with its companion, an American species of the 
large genus Emys, examples of which are found in various portions of the world, and of 
which nearly fifty species are known to zoologists. All these creatures have their heads 
covered with a thin but hard skin. 

The Lettered Terrapin is very common in Northern America, and is found in the rivers, 
ponds, lakes, or even the marshy grounds, where it can obtain an abundant supply of food. 
It is fond of reptiles, and causes great destruction among the frogs in their earlier stages of 
existence. It also has a great liking for worms, and, like the green crab of our own coasts, 
is very apt to take the fisherman's bait, and exasperates him greatly by making him pull 
up nothing but a little Tortoise when he thought he had caught a fine fish. Eegular 
anglers therefore bear an intense hatred to this Tortoise. 

It is easily kept in captivity, and will then feed on many substances, preferring those 
of an animal nature, and being very fond of various reptiles. It will also eat vegetable 
substances, and one of these Tortoises was fond of purslain (Portulacea oleracea). 

In colour it is very pretty, though rather variable. Generally, it is dark brown 
above, and the edges are boldly scribbled with broad scarlet marks, something like the 
letters of some strange language. Below it is yellow and the head is yellow and black. 

The CHICKEN TORTOISE is also found in North America. 

It is very common in the ponds, lakes, or marshy grounds, and though very plentiful, 
and by no means quick in its movements, is not easily caught, owing to its extreme 
wariness. Hundreds of these Tortoises may be seen reposing on logs, stones, or the 
branches of fallen trees, where they are apparently an easy prey. But they are very 

LETTERED TOIIT01SE. mj/s acripto. 

CHICKED TOKTOISli mj/s rettcuidria. 

sensitive to the approach of an enemy, and the first that perceives the coming danger 
tumbles off its perch and falls into the water with a great splash that arouses the fears of 
all its companions, who go tumbling and splashing into the water in all directions, and in 
a few seconds not a Tortoise is to be seen where they were so plentiful before they took 

The Chicken Tortoise swims well, but not rapidly, and as it passes along with its head 
and neck elevated above the surface, it looks so like the dark water-snake of the same 
country, that at a little distance it might readily be mistaken for that reptile. 

It is rather a small species, seldom exceeding ten inches in length. Its flesh is 
remarkably excellent, very tender and delicately flavoured, something like that of a young 
chicken, so that this Tortoise is in great request as an article of food, and is largely sold 
in the markets, though not so plentifully as the common salt-water terrapin. Its colour 
is dark brown above, and the plates are scribbled with yellow lines, and wrinkled 
longitudinally. The neck is long in proportion to the size of the animal, so long indeed 
that the head and neck together are almost as long as the shell. The lower jaw is hooked 
in front. 

AN allied species, popularly called the QUAKER TORTOISE and scientifically 
olivacea, is remarkable for the extreme length of the claws of the fore feet, the three 
middle claws being elongated in a manner that irresistibly reminds the observer of the 
nails belonging to a Chinese mandarin of very high rank. 

The SALT-WATER TERRAPIN is a well-known species, living in North and South 
America, where it is in great request for the table. 



The generic name of Malaclemys, or Soft Terrapin, has been given to this species on 
account of the formation of the head, which is covered with soft spongy skin. The head 
is large in proportion to the size of the animal and flattened above. 

This Terrapin lives in the salt-water marshes, where it is very plentiful, and from 
which it never travels to any great distance. During the warm months of the year, it is 
lively and constantly searching after prey, but when the cold weather comes on, it burrows 
a hole in the muddy banks of its native marsh and there lies buried until the warm 
sunbeams of spring break its slumbers and induce it once more to seek the upper earth 
and resume its former active existence. 

It is more active in its movements than is the case with the Tortoises in general, 
and can not only swim rapidly, but walk with tolerable speed. It is very shy, and 
discovers approaching peril with a keenness of perception that could scarcely be expected 
from one of these shielded reptiles, whose dulness and torpidity have long been proverbial 

SALT-WATER TERRAPIN. Malacltmys conctntnua. 

Mr. Holbrook, in his valuable "North American Herpetology," writes as follows 
concerning this Terrapin. 

" They are very abundant in the salt marshes around Charleston, and are easily 
taken when the female is about to deposit her eggs in the spring and early summer 
months. They are then brought in immense numbers to market ; yet, notwithstanding 
this great destruction, they are so prolific that their number appears undiminished. Their 
flesh is excellent at all times, but in the northern cities it is most esteemed when the 
animal has been dug out of the mud in its state of hibernation. The males are smaller 
than the females, and have the concentric striae more deeply impressed." 

The colour of this Salt-water Terrapin is rather variable, but is usually dark greenish 
brown on the upper surface, and yellow on the plates which surround the edge of the 
shell. Below it is yellow, and in many specimens it is marked with variously shaped 
spots of dark grey. The lower jaw is furnished with a hook, and the sides of the head 
are dusty white sprinkled with many small black spots. 

VERY many species of Tortoise are extremely variable in their colour, but there are 
few which are so remarkable in this respect as the creature which is appropriately named 
the Box TOETOISB. 


This species belongs to America, and is found spread over the whole of the Northern 
States. It is very plentiful in the localities which it favours, and although so small a 
creature, is able by means of its wonderful organization to protect itself against almost 
every foe. Many of the Tortoises can withdraw their limbs and head into their shell, 
leaving open, however, the apertures through which this movement is achieved, so that 
the animal might be killed or hooked out by a persevering foe, such as the jaguar, which 
is known to attack turtles, insinuate its lithe paw within the shell, and scoop out the 
inhabitant with its sharp curved claws. 

But in those instances where the animal has the power of closing the openings through 
which the legs, tail, and head protrude, there is hardly any mode of getting at the flesh 
without breaking the shell, a feat beyond the power of any animal, except perhaps an 
elephant, to perform. Certain birds, it is said, are clever enough to soar to a great height 
with the Tortoise, and break the shell by letting it fall upon* a convenient rock, but this 

BOX TORTOISE. Cistiida Carolina. 

story does not seem to be very strongly attested. Several species possess this valuable 
capability, but none to so perfect a degree as the Box Tortoise, which, according to the 
Rev. Sydney Smith's felicitous summary, need fear no enemy except man and the boa 
constrictor, the former taking him home and roasting him, and the latter swallowing him 
entire and consuming him slowly in its interior, as the Court of Chancery does a large 

With regard to this curious propensity, it is evident that there is some analogy 
between these Tortoises and certain mammalia, which are also able to withdraw them- 
selves within the protection of certain armour with which they are furnished. In the 
case of the hedgehog the animal assumes more of an offensive than a defensive character, 
and relies, not on an impenetrable covering, for the skin is soft, and a pointed weapon 
can find an easy entrance between the spines, but on the bristly array of bayonet-like 
spikes that protrude their threatening points in every direction, and bid a tacit defiance 
to the foe. 

The scale-covered manis again, although guarded with successive layers of broad, 
horny plates, is, in point of fact, less protected when rolled up than when walking quietly 
along ; for when at rest, the scales overlap each other like the tiles of a house, so that any 
weapon would glance aside, but when curled up the scales are erected and leave a passage 
for the arrow or the spear between them. 



The real defence of the hedgehog lies in the points of its quills, and of the manis in the 
razor-like edges of its scales, but the defence of the Tortoise is wholly inaggressive, and is 
more allied to that of the armadillo or perhaps the singular pichiciago (Chlamydophorus 
truncatus), a most remarkable little creature with a curious shelly covering spread over 
nearly the whole upper surface and down the hind quarters. A description of this animal 
may be found in the volume on the Mammalia, page 770. There are again many of the 
lower animals which have a similar mode of defence, a very familiar example being the 
well-known pill-woodlouse so common in our gardens, which rolls itself into a round ball 
when alarmed, and permits itself to be handled and even rolled along the ground without 
displaying any signs of life. 

The Box Tortoise is a terrestrial species, and always keeps to the dry forest-lands, 
detesting the vicinity of water. It is commonly found in the pine forests, because they 
are ahvays on thoroughly dry soil, and on account of its fondness for such localities is 

MUD TORTOISE. - Kinustcrnuii 

sometimes known by the popular name of the Pine Terrapin. The negroes call it by 
the name of Cooter. In the wild state it mostly feeds on insects, and is peculiarly fond 
of the cricket tribe, but in captivity it will eat almost any food that is offered, taking 
insects, meat, apples, or even bread. 

It is a very little creature, being when adult a very little more than six inches in 
length. In colour it is extremely variable, but is generally yellowish brown, striped with 
a brighter hue, and sometimes mottled with black. Of a number of specimens in the 
British Museum, no two are exactly alike, some being yellow, spotted M'ith black, while 
others exactly reverse these tints, and are black, spotted with yellow. Others again are 
yellow with black rays, and others olive with yellow rays and streaks. The carapace has 
a very slight keel along its upper edge. 

The upper jaw of this species is furnished with a rather broad hook, and the lower 
jaw is also hooked, but not so boldly. 

THE common MUD TORTOISE, so called from its mud-haunting propensities, is an 
example of rather a curious genus of Tortoises, inhabiting America. 

It is an odd little creature, being when adult not quite four inches in length, and 
moving with moderate speed. It is mostly found in ponds and muddy pools, where it feeds 
upon fish, aquatic insects, and similar diet, catching even the active fish without much 
difficulty. I lately saw some aquatic Tortoises, which I think belonged to this genus, 


which had to be ejected from a large basin of a fountain because they killed the newts 
which inhabited the same locality. Their movements in the water were so deliberate that 
it was not until they were detected in the very act of biting the newts that their 
delinquencies were discovered. Their mode of attack was simply to creep under their 
victim as it balanced itself in the water or swam gently within reach, and then to secure 
it with a quiet snap of its beak. 

Like the lettered terrapin, already mentioned, it has a vexatious habit of taking the 
angler's bait, and causes many a fisherman to lose his temper when pulling up a useless 
little Mud Tortoise instead of the fish on which he had set his heart. It seizes the worm 
just as it catches the newts, taking it so quietly into its mouth that the float is hardly 
shaken by the touch. But when the fisherman pulls his line, the Tortoise kicks, pulls and 
flounces about in so energetic a style that it often deludes the angler into the idea that he 
has hooked quite a fine fish. 

This species has a decided smell of musk, a peculiarity which is found in others of the 
same genus, one of which (Kinosternon odoratum) goes by the appropriate, though not very 
refined, name of Stink-pot, in consequence of the powerful musky odour which it exudes. 

The colour of the Mud Tortoise is mostly dusky brown above, and chestnut below, 
though this colouring is liable to some variation in different individuals. The tail is thick 
and pointed, and horny at the tip. The head is large, and there are four large warty 
appendages on the chin. 

THE last example of the Terrapin is that singular animal which is appropriately 
called the ALLIGATOR TERRAPIN, from the great resemblance which it bears to that 

It is also an American species, and lives mostly in the water. When adult it reaches 
a large size, often exceeding three feet in length, and as it is very fierce of disposition, lithe 
of neck, and strong of jaw, it is somewhat dreaded by those who have had a practical 
acquaintance with its powers. The jaws of this animal are sharp edged, and remarkably 
strong, cutting like the blades of steel shears. Mr. Bell remarks that he has seen one of 
these creatures bite asunder a stick of half an inch in diameter. When caught, therefore, 
the captors always cut off these dangerous heads at once. 

Mr. Holbrook gives the following interesting account of the Alligator Terrapin and 
its habits : 

" It is found in stagnant pools or in streams where the waters are of sluggish motion. 
Generally they prefer deep water, and live at the bottom of rivers ; at times, however, 
they approach the surface, above which they elevate the tip of their pointed snout, all other 
parts being concealed, and in this way they float slowly along with the current, but if 
disturbed, they descend speedily to the bottom. 

They are extremely voracious, feeding on fish, reptiles, or any animal substance that 
falls in their way. They take the hook readily, whatever may be the bait, though most 
attracted by pieces of fish ; in this way many are caught for market. It is, however, 
necessary to have strong hooks and tackle, otherwise they would be broken, for the animal 
puts forth great strength in its struggles to escape, both with its firm jaws and by bringing 
its anterior extremities across the line. When caught, they always give out an odour of 
musk, more or less distinct ; sometimes in very old animals it is so strong as to be 

Occasionally it leaves the water, and is seen on the banks of rivers or in meadows, 
even at a distance from its accustomed element. On land, his motions are awkward : he 
walks slowly, with his head, neck, and long tail extended, elevating himself on his legs 
like the alligator, which at that time he greatly resembles in his motions. Like the 
alligator also, after having walked a short distance, he falls on his sternum to rest for a 
lew moments, and then proceeds on his journey. 

In captivity they prefer dark places, and are exceedingly ferocious ; they will seize 
upon and bite severely anything that is offered them, and their grasp upon the object 
with their strong jaws is so tenacious, that they may even be raised from the ground 
without loosing their hold. 



ALLIGATOR TERRAPIN. Cltelyd^a serpentinii. 

In many of the northern cities they are brought in numbers to market and are esteemed 
excellent food, though I think that they are far inferior to the green turtle, the soft-shelled, 
or even several of the emydes. They are kept for months in tubs of fresh water, and feed 
on such offal as may be given them, though they never become fat or increase much in 

Though a very valuable and curious reptile, the Alligator Terrapin is far from 
beautiful, with its little dusky shell, its long knob-covered tail, its singular legs and 
fset, and its great sharply toothed jaws. On account of its habit of snapping fiercely at 
its opponents, it is often called by the name of Snapping Turtle, a title, however, which 
rightly belongs to a species which will shortly be described. 

Its head is large and covered with a hard wrinkled skin ; the neck is long, thick, and 
furnished with a number of projecting tubercles. Under the chin are two distinct barbels. 
When adult, the shell is so formed that a depression runs along the centre, leaving a kind 
of keel at each side of the central line ; but when young, the shell forms three distinct keels. 
It is rather flat, oblong, and at the hinder portion is deeply cleft, so as to form a row of 
blunt teeth, but while young the teeth are sharp. The tail is stout, long, and is furnished 
with a series of large blunt tubercles along its central line. 

WE now arrive at another family of Tortoises, termed Chelydes, an example of which 
is the remarkable MATAMATA, the acknowledged type of its family. 

All the Chelydes have broad flattened heads, long broad contractile necks, and when 
in repose have a curious custom of bending their necks under the side of the carapace. 
Their feet are webbed in order to enable them to pass rapidly through the water, and there 
is always a lobe between the claws. They are aquatic Tortoises, carnivorous, and voracious, 
and only feed while in the water. When swimming, the whole of the shell is kept below 
the surface. 

The Matamata is certainly the most remarkable of aspect among all the Tortoises, and 
perhaps may lay claim to be considered one of the oddest-looking animals in the world, 
far exceeding in its grotesque ungainliness even the wild and weird creations of the 
middle-age painters. 

M ATAM AT A. Citelys J/cUiuimta 

This Tortoise inhabits Southern America, and is most plentiful in Cayenne. For- 
merly it was very common, but on account of the excellence of its flesh, it has been 
subject to such persecution, that its numbers have been considerably diminished. It 
haunts the lakes and rivers, where it swims well and with some speed. As is the case 
with most aquatic tortoises, it is carnivorous, and feeds on fish, reptiles, and other creatures, 
which it captures by a sudden snap of its sharp beak. In general, it appears not to care 
for chasing the intended prey, but conceals itself among the reeds and herbage of the 
river-side, and from its hiding-place thrusts out its neck suddenly upon its victims as 
they pass unsuspectingly within reach of their destroyer. On occasion, however, it will 
issue from its concealment, dart rapidly through the water and seize a fish, reptile, or even 
a water-fowl, and then retire with its prey to its former hiding-place. 

It is a large and formidable creature, attaining, when adult, to a length of three feet. 

The head of the Matamata is most singular in shape, and remarkable for the strange 
appendages which are placed upon it. The head itself is much flattened, and rather broad, 
and the snout is prolonged in a most extraordinary manner, so as to form an elongated and 
flexible double tube. 

On the top of the head are two membranous prolongation^ of the skin, standing 
boldly from the head, and having much the appearance of ears. From the chin hang two 
curiously fringed membranes, and the throat is decorated with four similar membranes, 
but of larger size and more deeply fringed. The neck is long, and bears upon its upper 
surface two rows of small membranous tufts, deeply fringed, and greatly resembling, in 
every point but that of size, the tufts on the chin and throat. The limbs are powerful, 
and the tail is short. 

The shell of the Matamata is rather convex, broader before than behind, and rather 
flattened in the middle of the back. The shields are elevated, rather sharp at their tips, 
and are arranged so as to form three regular keels along the back. 

A NEARLY allied species of river Tortoise is worthy of a passing notice. It is the 
NEW HOLLAND CHELODINE, sometimes called the YELLOW CHELODINE, from the olive- 
yellow colour of the plastron. 


This remarkable reptile may almost deserve the name of the Snake Tortoise, its long 
flexible neck, and flat, narrow, and pointed head, having a very serpentine aspect. As its 
name imports, it is an inhabitant of Australia, and is found most commonly in New 
.Holland. It is a water-loving creature, not caring much for rivers and running streams, 
but haunting the pools, marshes, and stagnant waters, where it lives in the midst of 
abundance, finding ample food among the fishes and aquatic reptiles which generally swarm 
in such localities. It is an active animal, traversing the water with considerable speed, 
and capturing its prey by means of its sharp jaws. 

The gape is very large, and the jaws are comparatively slender. The shell is broad, 
rather flattened, and the shields are thin and smooth, not being elevated as in the 
preceding species. The general colour of the shell is brown above and yellow below, 
each shield having a black line round its edge. 

"VVE now arrive at another family of the Tortoises, known popularly as Soft Turtles 
a rather inaccurate title, inasmuch as they are not turtles but Tortoises and scientifically 
as Trionycidce. The latter title is of Greek origin, signifying three-clawed, in allusion to 
the fact that, although the species belonging to the family have five toes on each foot, 
only the three inner toes of each foot are armed with claws. 

These Tortoises are rather interesting to the careful observer, because the peculiar 
structure of the external covering permits the formation of the skeleton to be seen without 
the necessity for separating the shells. In particular, the method in which the breast- 
bone is developed into the broad flattened plate which forms the plastron, can clearly be 
3. c 


seen through the skin, and even the position of the sutures can be made out without 
much difficulty. 

The head of these creatures is rather oval and flattened, the ja v rs are horny, but 
covered with hanging fleshy lips, and the mouth is lengthened into a cylindrical trunk. 
The neck is long and can be contracted, the feet are short, veiy wide, and the toes are 
connected together by strong webs. They all live in warm climates, and are found in 
rivers and lakes. 

The typical species is the celebrated FIERCE TRIONYX, or SNAPPING TURTLE, a reptile 
which derives its former title from the exceeding ferocity of its disposition, and the latter 
from the method in which it secures its prey or attacks its foes. It is found spread over 
many parts of North America. 

This fierce and determined marauder of the waters is even more formidable than the 
two previous species, and not only causes terror among the smaller creatures which 
inhabit the same localities, but is even dreaded by man, whose limbs have often been 
severely wounded by the bite of these ferocious reptiles. Like the aquatic Tortoises, it is 
carnivorous in its habits, and is terribly destructive among the fish, smaller quadrupeds, 
birds, and reptiles. Lurking on the banks it snatches away many an unfortunate animal 
as it comes to drink, or seizes the water-fowl that have ventured too close to their terrible . 
neighbour. So fiercely carnivorous is this Tortoise, and so voracious is its appetite, that it 
will even catch young alligators, and devour them in spite of their teeth and struggles. 

The flesh of this species is very delicate, tender, and richly flavoured, so that it often 
meets the doom which it has inflicted on so many other animals. As it is so voracious, 
it will take almost any kind of bait, provided that it be composed of animal substance, but 
it prefers fish, and cannot resist a hook so baited. 

Its captor's work, however, is not confined to hooking and drawing it ashore, as the 
Snapping Turtle, when it finds itself with a hook firmly fixed in its jaws, and itself being 
irresistibly dragged from the water, seems possessed with tenfold ferocity, writhing its 
long flexible neck, darting its head furiously at its foes with the rapidity of a serpent's 
stroke, and snapping sharply with its formidable jaws, one bite of which would shred 
away the fingers from the hand, or the toes from the feet, as easily as the gardener's 
scissors sever the twigs and leaves. Such a misfortune has indeed been known to occur. 
Mr. Bell records an instance where a Snapping Turtle, that was being conveyed to England, 
contrived to reach the hand of one of the sailors in its fierce struggles, and bit off one 
of his fingers. 

The eggs of the Snapping Turtle are very spherical in form, and brittle of substance. 
The female lays a large number of these eggs, from fifty to sixty being the usual average, 
and always deposits them in some dry situation. In order to find a suitable spot for the 
deposition of her eggs, the female leaves the water, and is often forced to traverse a 
considerable distance before she can find a spot sufficiently dry for her purpose. Sometimes 
she will even ascend a very steep acclivity in her anxiety to find a locality that is quite 
dry, covered with sandy soil, and exposed to the full rays of the sun. She begins her 
task about May, and the little Tortoises are hatched in July. 

The following curious account of the tenacity of life possessed by these creatures has 
been kindly forwarded to me : 

" As regards the tenacity of life of the Snapping Turtle, and the sympathy (rapport} 
which seems to exist between its severed limbs and main trunk, for some time after the 
separation has taken place, I witnessed a very curious incident when staying at a farm in 
Massachusetts, U.S. America. 

When I had brought the animal home, suspended by its tail, I killed it by chopping 
its head off, yet the head would open and shut the mouth, and roll its eyes. When I 
held a stick between the opened jaws it closed them with violence, and kept hold of 
it Meanwhile the headless body was crawling on the ground. 

About a quarter of an hour after having severed the head from the body, my mother 
had got boiling water, which I threw over the body, placed in a tub, in order to make the 
horny matter separate from the flesh ; the moment this was done the back heaved and the 
sides were puffed out as if wind were blown between skin and flesh, and instantaneously 


the head, which lay about three or four feet from the tub, on the ground, opened its inouth 
with a slight hissing sound, let go its hold on the stick, and the part of the neck adhering 
to the head expanded, as if also wind was blown into it, and both body and head lay 
motionless and dead. After having taken out thirty-four eggs, I took out the heart, which, 
strange to say, was still throbbing with life, contracting and expanding. I put it upon 
a plate, where it kept on beating until about noon the following day." 

The shape and general appearance of this creature may be learned from the engraving 
better than by a page of description, and it is only necessary to poini out that, in this 
species, the front edge of the carapace is furnished with a great number of tooth-liKt" 
points, all radiating from the shell. These teeth, or tubercles, distinguish it from another 
American species, appropriately termed the Unarmed Trionyx (Trionyx mtiticus). 

BEFORE taking leave of the Soft Turtles, we must cast a casual glance at two rather 
curious species. The one is the TYESE (Tyrse, or Trionyx Niloticus), a native of Africa, 
as its name imports. This animal is found in the Nile, and other African rivers, and is a 
good representation of the American reptile, being very fierce, strong, and voracious, and 
said to devour the young crocodiles, just as the snapping turtle eats young alligators. 
The shell of the Tyrse is rather convex, but often is flattened along the line of the vertebrae, 
and its back is olive-green spotted with yellow or white. 

The other species is the DOGANIA (Dogania subplanus, or Trionyx subplanus). This 
curious-looking reptile is an Asiatic species, and is found in India. Its neck seems 
preternaturally long, and supports a very large head, broad behind, and produced into a 
conical muzzle in front. The shell is rather oval, much flattened, and quite conceals the 
conical tail. Its colour is brown, mottled largely with yellow ; the head is also yellow 
and brown. The ribs are not fully united together until the animal has attained a rather 
advanced age. 

WE now arrive at the TURTLES, a group that can be distinguished by many unmistake- 
able marks. Their feet are very long, those of the fore limbs being longest, flat, expanded 
at the end, and often furnished with flattened claws. In fact the feet are modified into 
fins or paddles, in order to suit the habits of these reptiles, which only feel themselves at 
home in the water, and are often met at sea some hundreds of miles from the nearest land. 
The ribs of the Turtles, instead of being united throughout their length, as in the tortoises, 
are only wide, flat, and united for part of their length, the remaining portions being free, 
and radiating like the spokes of a wheel. 

These reptiles inhabit the seas of the torrid and the temperate zones, and their food is 
mostly of a vegetable nature, consisting of various seaweeds, but there are a few species 
which are animal feeders, and eat creatures such as molluscs, star-fish, and other marine 
inhabitants. Several species are remarkably excellent for food, and caught in great 
numbers for the table, while others are equally useful in supplying the beautiful 
translucent substance known by the name of tortoiseshelL Their head is rather globular, 
and their jaws are naked and horny, and are capable of inflicting a severe wound. 

THE first example of the Turtles is the LUTH, or LEATHERY TURTLE, so called from the 
soft leather-like substance with which its shell is covered. 

This species is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, where it grows to a 
very large size, often weighing more than sixteen hundred pounds, and measuring eight 
feet in length. Being a very good swimmer, owing to the great development of the limbs, 
especially the fore legs, it ventures far out to sea, and is occasionally driven to strange 
countries. Specimens of this reptile have been taken on the coast of France, and one or 
two on our own shores. These individuals were rather large, weighing about seven or 
eight hundred pounds. 

The Leathery Turtle feeds on fish, Crustacea, molluscs, radiates, and other animals, and 
its flesh seems to be hurtful, causing many symptoms of poisoning in those who eat it. 
It resorts in numbers to the Tortugas, or Turtle Islands, of Florida, for the purpose of 
laying its eggs, which are generally about three hundred and fifty in number, and are laid 
in two sets. 

c 2 

LUTH, OB LEATHKUY TUUTl,E.-. 1 >;>>iar|/u<< cwnncco 

This species is remarkable for having no horny plates, the bones of the carapace and 
plastron being covered with a strong leathery skin, smooth in the adult animal, but 
covered with tubercles in the young. Along the back run seven ridges, sharp, and slightly 
toothed in the full-grown Turtle, but bluntly tubercled in the young. The eye is very 
curious, as the lids are set vertically instead of horizontally, and when the creature opens 
and shuts its eyes, have a very singular effect. The jaws are very formidable, being 
sharply edged, deeply scooped with three rounded notches in the front of the upper jaw, 
so as to form two curved sharply pointed teeth, and the extremity of the lower jaw is 
strongly hooked. 

The legs of the Leathery Turtle are very long, especially the two fore limbs, which, in 
a specimen measuring eight feet in total length, were nearly three feet long, and more than 
nine inches wide. The feet are not furnished with claws, but the toes have a little horny 
scale at their tips, which take the place of the claws. The general colour of this animal 
is dark brown, with pale yellow spots, but sometimes the skin is irregularly pied with 
black and white. 

ANOTHER well-known species of Turtle deserves a passing notice. This is the 
LOGGEKHEAD TURTLE, or CAOUANE (Caouana caretta), sometimes called the KHINOCEROS 

This fine species has a wide range of locality, being found in the most warm seas. It 
is extremely powerful, fierce, and voracious, biting with great force, and cutting hard 
substances without much difficulty. According to Catesby, " the Loggerhead Turtles are 
the boldest and most voracious of all other Turtles. Their flesh is rank and little sought 
for, which occasions them to be more numerous than any other kind. They range the 
ocean over, an instance of which, among many others that I have known, happened the 
20th of April, 1725, in latitude 30 north, when OUT boat was hoisted out, and a 
Loggerhead Turtle struck, as it was sleeping on the surface of the water. 

This, by our reckoning, appeared to be midway between the Azores and the Bahama 
Islands, either of which places being the nearest land it could have come from, or thai 

RAWKSBILL TURTLE. Caretla imbricdm. 

they are known to frequent, there Toeing none on the north continent of America farther 
north than Florida. It being amphibious, and yet at so great a distance from land in the 
breeding-time, makes it the more remarkable. They feed mostly on shell-fish, the great 
strength of their beaks enabling them to break very large shells." Several other species 
belong to the same genus. 

In general appearance this species is not unlike the common Green Turtle, which will 
presently be described, but the shell is broader, deeper coloured, and has two more plates 
on the back. The plates along the upper part of the back are six-sided, rather square, 
and keeled. There are two claws on each foot. 

THE well-known CAEET, or HAWKSBILL TUETLE, so called from the formation of the 
mouth, is a native of the warm American and Indian seas, and is common in many of 
the islands of those oceans. One or two specimens have been taken on our coasts. 

The Hawskbill Turtle is the animal which furnishes the valuable " tortoiseshell " of 
commerce, and is therefore a creature of great importance. The scales of the back are 
thirteen in number, and as they overlap each other for about one-third of their length, 
they are larger than in any other species where the edges only meet. In this species, too, 
the scales are thicker, stronger, and more beautifully clouded than in any other Turtle. 
The removal of the plates is a very cruel process, the poor reptiles being exposed to a 
strong heat which causes the plates to come easily off the back. In many cases the 
natives are very rough in their mode of conducting this process, and get the plates away 
by lighting a fire on the back of the animal. This mode of management, however, is 
injurious to the quality of the tortoiseshell. After the plates have been removed, the 
Turtle is permitted to go free, as its flesh is not eaten, and after a time it is furnished 
with a second set of plates. These, however, are of inferior quality and not so thick as 
the first set. 

When first removed, they are rather crumpled, dirty, opaque, brittle, and quite useless 
for the purposes of manufacture, and have to undergo certain processes in order that these 
defects may be corrected. Boiling water and steam are the two principal agents in this 
part of the manufacture, the plates being boiled and steamed until they are soft and 


clean, and then pressed between wooden blocks until they are flat. The tortoiseshell 
possesses the valuable property of uniting together perfectly, if two pieces are thoroughly 
softened, heated, and then subjected to the action of a powerful press. By this mode of 
treatment, the tortoiseshell can be formed into pieces of any size or thickness, and can even 
be forced into moulds, retaining, when cold, a perfect impression of the mould. Even the 
chippings and scrapings of this valuable substance are collected, and being heated and 
pressed, are formed into solid cakes fit for the purposes of manufacture. 

The uses to which this costly and beautiful substance are put, are innumerable. 
The most familiar form in which the tortoiseshell is presented to us is the comb, but it is 
also employed for knife-handles, boxes, and many other articles of ornament or use. 

This species is not nearly so large as the green Turtle, and its flesh is not used for 
food. The eggs, however, are thought to be a great delicacy. It is remarkable that when 
these eggs are boiled, the albumen, or " white " as it is popularly called, does not become 
firm. The external membrane is white, flexible, and the eggs are nearly spherical in their 
form. Their number is very great, and the animal usually lays them in sets at intervals 
of about three weeks. 

The young are generally hatched in about three weeks after the eggs are laid in the 
sand, the hot rays of the sun being the only means by which they attain their develop- 
ment. When first excluded from the shell, the young Turtles are very small and soft, 
not obtaining their hard scaly covering until they have reached a more advanced age. 
Numberless animals, fish, and birds feed on these little helpless creatures, and multitudes 
of them are snapped up before they have breathed for more than a few minutes. The 
rudiments of the scales are perceptible upon the backs of these little creatures, but the 
only hard portion is the little spot in the centre of each plate, which is technically called 
the areola, the layers of tortoiseshell being added by degrees from the edges of the plates. 

Many birds are always hovering about the islands where Turtles lay their eggs, and 
as soon as the little things make their appearance from the sand and hurry instinctively 
towards the sea, they are seized by the many foes that are watching for their prey. Even 
when they reach the water, their perils are not at an end, for there are marine as well as 
aerial and terrestrial foes, and as many fall victims in the water as on land. So 
terrible is the destruction among these reptiles in their early days of life, that were it not 
for the great number of eggs laid, they would soon be extirpated from the earth. 

Three specimens of the Hawksbill Turtle have been found on our shores, and one of 
them, which was taken alive in 1774, was conveyed ashore and placed m a fish-pond, 
where it lived until winter. This specimen was caught in the Severn. 

The shell of the Hawksbill Turtle is rather flat, and heart-shaped. When young, the 
centre of each plate is rather pointed, but in the adult animal the points are worn away 
and never restored. The plates surrounding the edges of the shell are arranged so as to 
form strong teeth pointing towards the tail. In the younger specimens, there are two 
keels running the length of the plastron, but in the older individuals these are worn away 
like the projections on the back. The jaws are strongly hooked at their tips, and the 
under jaw shuts within the upper. The tail is very short. The colour of this species is 
yellow richly marbled with deep brown above. The under parts are yellowish while, 
splashed with black on the areola in the half -grown and younger individuals, and the 
head is brown, the plates being often edged with yellow. 

THE best known of all the Turtles is the celebrated GKEEN TUKTLE, so called from the 
green colour of its fat. 

This useful animal is found in the seas and on the shores of both continents, and is 
most plentiful about the Island of Ascension and the Antilles, where it is subject to 
incessant persecution for the sake of its flesh. The shell of this reptile is of very little 
use, and of small value, but the flesh is remarkably rich and well-flavoured, and the 
green fat has long enjoyed a world-wide and fully deserved reputation. 

In Europe the flesh of the Green Turtle is little but an object of luxury, attainable 
only at great cost and dressed with sundry accompaniments that increase rather than 
diminish its natural richness. But in many instances, more especially on board ship, 

GREEN TURTLE. Chelonia viridu 

when the sailors have been forced to eat salt provisions until the system becomes 
deteriorated, and the fearful scourge of scurvy is impending over crew and officers, the 
Turtle becomes an absolute necessity, and is the means of saving many a noble vessel 
from destruction, by giving the crew a healthful change of diet, and purifying the blood 
from the baneful effects of a course of salted provisions. 

Landsmen have little notion of the real texture and flavour of " salt junk," their ideas 
being generally confined to the delicately corned and pinky beef or pork that is served up 
to table, with the accompaniments of sundry fresh and well-dressed vegetables. Whereas, 
salt junk is something like rough mahogany in look and hardness, and salted to such a 
degree as almost to blister the tongue of a landsman. It may easily be imagined how 
any one who has been condemned to a course of this diet for a lengthened time would 
welcome fresh meat of any kind whatever, and we need not wonder at the extraordinary 
relish with which sailors will eat sharks, sea-birds, and various other strangely flavoured 

Even in such favoured countries as England, the flesh and fat of the Turtle are 
valuable in a medicinal point of view, and will supply in a more agreeable, though more 
costly manner, the various remedies for consumptive tendencies, decline, and similar 
diseases, of which cod-liver oil is the most familiar and one of the most nauseous 

Formerly, before steam power was applied to vessels, the Turtle was extremely scarce 
and very expensive, but it can now be obtained on much more reasonable terms. Many 
vessels are now in the habit of bringing over Turtles as part of their cargo, and it is 
found that these valuable reptiles are easily managed when on board, requiring hardly 
any attention. The following short account of some captive Turtles has been, kindly 
presented to me by a partaker of their voyage and their flesh. 

" The Island of Ascension is a great resort of Turtle, which are there captured and 
retained prisoners in some large ponds from which they are occasionally transferred to 
H.M. ships for ' rations ' for the crew. These Turtle may be seen in the ponds, lazily 
moving along, one above another, sometimes three or four deep They occasionally comf 


to the surface to take breath, and will splash about at times quite merrily, as though 
ignorant that their destiny tended towards conversion into soup and cutlets. At the best, 
however, they are lethargic, awkward creatures. 

About half a dozen fine Turtle were conveyed on board our ship during my stay at 
the Island of Ascension ; they were unwieldy monsters, measuring rather more than 
four feet six inches in length, and about three feet in breadth. They were allowed to lie 
either in the boats, or on the after-part of the poop, and seldom disturbed themselves 
unless the vessel gave an extra roll, or they were stirred up by a pail of water being 
thrown over them or a wet swab rubbed over their hooked beaks. 

Their tenacity of life was remarkable ; they remained on board ship during upwards of 
three weeks without any food, and their only refresher was a cold bath, derived from the 
before-mentioned pail of water, which they usually received with a dreamy lengthy sort 
of hiss. Even after their three weeks' starvation, they died very hard. One, whose 
throat was cut in the morning, and from whose body numerous eggs had been extracted, 
was giving an occasional flap with her fins late in the afternoon ; the fact of her throat 
having been cut and her body otherwise mutilated appeared merely to produce the effect 
of ultimately damaging her constitution, and I have grave doubts whether the fact of her 
ceasing to move was not as much due to the destruction of the various membranes as to 
the extinction of her reptilian life." 

As these animals are large and very powerful, it is not a very easy task to secure and 
bring them on board. The usual plan is to intercept them as they are traversing the 
sands, and to turn them over on their backs, where they lie until they can be removed. 
Many of the tortoise tribe can recover their position when thus overturned, but the 
Green Turtle is quite unable to restore itself to its proper attitude, and lies helplessly 
sprawling until it is lifted into the boat and taken on board. In many cases the creature 
is so enormously heavy that the united strength of the pursuers is inadequate to the task, 
and they are consequently forced to employ levers and so to tilt it over. 

Sometimes the Turtle is fairly chased in the water and struck with a curious kind of 
harpoon, consisting of an iron head about ten inches in length, and a staff nearly twelve 
feet long. The head is only loosely slipped into a socket on the staff, and the two are 
connected with a cord. Two men generally unite in this chase, one paddling the canoe 
and the other wielding the harpoon. They start towards the most likely spots, and look 
carefully at the bottom of the sea, where it is about six or ten feet in depth, to see whether 
the expected prey is lying at its ease and does not perceive them. 

Sometimes they are forced to give chase to a Turtle on the surface, and sometimes the 
individual on which they had fixed, takes the alarm, and swims away. In either case 
they continually pursue the single swimming reptile, until it is fatigued with constant 
irritation, and sinks to the bottom to rest. No sooner has the Turtle assumed this position 
than the harpooner lowers his weapon into the water, takes an accurate aim, and then 
drives the steel spike deep into the shell Off dashes the Turtle, carrying with it the 
harpoon. Were it not for the peculiar construction of the harpoon, the weapon would 
soon be shaken off, and the Turtle escape, but as the shaft slips readily off the head, there 
is no leverage and the steel head remains fixed, towing after it the long wooden shaft, 
which soon tires out the poor victim. When thoroughly fatigued, it is drawn to the 
surface, a rope put round it, and either taken into the boat or hauled ashore. 

The food of this Turtle consists of vegetable substances, mostly algae, which is 
found in great abundance in those warm climates. This animal grows to a very great size, 
as may be imagined from the fact that it often requires the united aid of three men to 
turn it over. A very pure limpid oil is obtained from these species, useful for burning in 
lamps and other similar purposes. A fat full-grown specimen will sometimes furnish 
thirty pints of this substance. 

The eggs of the Turtle are thought as great delicacies as its flesh, and it is rather 
a remarkable fact, that although the flesh of the hawksbill Turtle is distasteful to all 
palates and hurtful to many constitutions, the eggs are both agreeable in flavour and 
perfectly harmless. It is while the female Turtle is visiting shore for the purpose of 
depositing her eggs that she is usually captured, as these sea-loving reptiles care little for 


the shore except for this purpose. So admirable an account of the manner in which the 
Turtle behaves when laying her eggs is written by Audubon, that the description must 
be given in his own words. 

" On nearing the shore, and mostly on fine calm moonlight nights, the Turtle raises her 
head above the water, being still distant thirty or forty yards from the beach, looks around 
her, and attentively examines the objects on shore. Should she observe nothing likely to 
disturb her intended operations, she emits a loud hissing sound, by which such of her 
enemies as are unaccustomed to it are startled, and apt to remove to another place, 
although unseen by her. 

Should she hear any more noise, or perceive any indication of danger, she instantly 
sinks and goes off to a distance ; but should everything be quiet, she advances slowly 
towards the beach, crawls over it, her head raised to the full stretch of her neck, and 
when she has reached a place fitted for her purpose, she gazes all around in silence. 
Finding all well, she proceeds to form a hole in the sand, which she effects by removing it 
from under her body with her hind flappers, scooping it out with so much dexterity, that 
the sides seldom, if ever, fall in. The sand is raised alternately with each flapper as with 
a ladle, until it has accumulated behind her, when, supporting herself with her head and 
fore-part on the ground, she, with a spring from each flapper, sends the sand around her, 
scattering it to the distance of several feet. 

In this manner the hole is dug to the depth of eighteen inches or sometimes more 
than two feet. This labour I have seen performed in the short space of nine minutes. 
The eggs are then dropped one by one and disposed in regular layers to the number of one 
hundred and fifty, or sometimes nearly two hundred. The whole time spent in this 
operation may be about twenty minutes. She now scrapes the loose sand back over the 
eggs, and so levels and smooths the surface, that few persons on seeing the spot would 
imagine that anything had been done to it. This accomplished to her mind, she retreats 
to the water with all possible despatch, leaving the hatching of the eggs to the heat of 
the sand. 

When a Turtle, a loggerhead for example, is in the act of dropping her eggs, she will 
not move, although one should go up to her, or even seat himself on her back ; but the 
moment it is finished, off she starts, nor would it be possible for one, unless he were as 
strong as Hercules, to turn her over and secure her." 


ACCOEDING to the arrangement of the national collection in the British Museum, the 
link next to the tortoise tribe is formed of an important group of reptiles, containing the 
largest of the reptilian order, larger indeed than most present inhabitants of the earth, 
if we except one or two African and Indian animals, and some members of the cetaceous 
tribe. As is the case with nearly all reptiles, they are carnivorous, and owing to their 
great size, strength of muscle, voracity of appetite and the terrible armature of sharp 
teeth with which their jaws are supplied, they are the dread of the countries which they 
inhabit, ruling the rivers with a sway as despotic as is exercised by the lion and tiger on 
land, the eagle in the air, or the shark in the seas. 

On account of the peculiar manner in which their bodies are covered with square, 
keeled, bony plates embedded in the skin, and protecting the body with an armour that 
effectually guards its upper and more exposed portions from any ordinary weapon, they 
are separated from the true lizards and scientifically termed EMYDOSAUEI, or Tortoise- 
lizards, the bony plates being considered to have a certain analogy with those of the 
shielded reptiles. By some zoological authors these animals are termed LORICATA or 
Mailed Reptiles, from the Latin word lorica which signifies a coat of mail or cuirass. 


Although these creatures are capable of walking upon land, for which purpose they 
are furnished with four legs, they are more fitted for the water than its shores, and are 
swift and graceful in the one, as they are stiff, awkward, and clumsy on the other. 
Through the water they urge their course with extraordinary speed, their long, flattened, 
flexible tail answering the double purpose of an oar and a rudder, but on land their bodies 
are so heavy and their legs are so weak, that they can hardly be said to walk, a term 
which seems to imply that the body is wholly supported by the legs, but to push or drag 
themselves along the ground, on which rests a considerable portion of their weight. 

The head of these creatures is always rather elongated, and in some species is 
lengthened into a narrow and prolonged snout. Each jaw is furnished with a row of 
sharply pointed and rather conical teeth. These teeth are hollow, mostly grooved on the 
surface, and are replaced when they fall by new teeth that grow behind them, and in 
process of time push the old ones out of their sockets. 

The nostrils are placed at the very extremity of the skull and upon a slightly raised 
prominence, so that the animal is able to breathe by merely exposing an inch or so above 
the water, and thus can conceal itself from almost any foe, or make an unsuspected 
approach upon its prey. There is yet another more important use for the position of the 
nostrils. The Crocodiles feed on fishes and various water-loving creatures, but also are in 
the habit of lurking by the river-bank, and suddenly seizing upon any unfortunate animal 
that may come to drink. Suppose, for example, that a calf or a dog is thus dragged into 
the water, the reptile grasps it across the body, and sinks below the surface so as to keep 
the head of the victim below water while itself can breathe by means of the elevated 

But as during this process the mouth is held widely open, it might be rationally 
presumed that considerable inconvenience would be caused by the water running down 
the throat. Such would indeed be the case, were not this difficulty provided for by a 
simple yet very wonderful contrivance. At the back of the throat, a pair of thin 
cartilaginous plates are so arranged, that when the animal opens its mouth the pressure oi 
the water rushing into the mouth immediately closes one upon the other, and effectually 
prevents the passage of a single drop, the closure being in exact proportion to the volume 
of water. The structure indeed is very like that of the valves of the heart. The channels 
which lead from the nostrils run very far back through the skull, and open behind the 
throat valves, so that respiration is in no way impeded. They cannot, however, swallow 
their prey while under water, but are obliged to bring it on shore for that purpose. The 
tongue is small, and fastened down to the lower jaw throughout its length, so that it was 
formerly thought that the Crocodiles were destitute of that organ. 

There is rather a curious structure in the vertebrae of the neck. These bones aro 
furnished with short transverse processes like false ribs, which have the effect of prevent- 
ing the animal from turning its head from side to side. On land therefore, where its feeble 
limbs are so inadequate to the support of the long and heavy body, it can easily be 
avoided by any one of ordinary agility. The eyes are large, and set rather far back upon 
the head. The ears are carefully guarded from the ingress of water by a pair of tightly 
closing valves. Below the throat are a pair of glands which secrete a substance having a 
strong musky scent which is very disagreeable, and in old individuals taint the wholt< 
flesh with its rank odour and render it uneatable to ordinary palates. 

The younf of these reptiles are hatched from eggs, which are strangely small in 
proportion to the large dimensions of the adult animal, the newly hatched offspring being 
so small as hardly to be recognised as belonging to the same species as their parents, 
especially as there are certain differences of shape hereafter to be mentioned. 

These great reptiles are divided, or rather fall naturally, into two families, namely, tho 
Crocodiles and the Alligators. All the members of these families can be easily distinguished 
by the shape of their jaws and teeth, the lower canine teeth of the Crocodiles fitting into 
a notch in the edge of the upper jaw, and those of the Alligators fitting into a pit in the. 
upper jaw. This peculiarity causes an obvious difference in the outline of the head, the 
muzzle of the Crocodiles being narrowed behind the nostrils, while that of the Alligators 
forms an unbroken line to the extremity. A glance therefore at the head will suffice t 


settle the family to whicii any species belongs. In the Crocodiles, moreover, the hind 
legs are fringed behind with a series of compressed scales. 

OUR first example of the Crocodiles is the very remarkable GAVIAL, or GANGETIO 
CROCODILE, sometimes known by the name of NAKOO, 

This curious reptile is one of the largest, if not the very largest of its order, sometimes 
reaching a length of twenty-five feet. As its popular name imports, it is a native of 
India, and swarms in many of the Indian rivers, the Ganges being greatly infested with 
its presence. It is a striking animal, the extraordinary length of its muzzle giving it a 
most singular and rather grotesque aspect 

This prolongation of the head varies considerably according to the age and sex of the 
individual. In the young Gavial, for example, just hatched from the egg, the head is 
short and blunt, and only attains its full development when the creature has reached 
adult age. The males can be distinguished from the other sex by the shape of the 
muzzle, which is much smaller at the extremity. There are many teeth, the full 
complement being about one hundred and twenty. They are similar in appearance, and 
about equal in length. 

The colour of this species is dark olive-brown, spotted with black. Several species of 
African Gavials are known to zoologists, besides the Asiatic animal, but on account of 
the different formation of the head, such as the absence of a swollen muzzle in the male, 
and some important variations in the plates of the neck and back, they are placed in 
another genus, and termed False Gavials. In the British Museum examples may be 
found, among which may be named BENNETT'S GAVIAL (Mecistops Bennettii), an inhabitant 
of Western Africa, and the False Gavial (Mecistops cataphractus). Some naturalists, 
however, think that these animals are only varieties of the same species. 

WE now arrive at the true Crocodiles, in which the jaws are moderately lengthened, 
wide, flat, tapering, and rather dilated at the extremities. The most peculiar of these 
reptiles is the long-celebrated CEOCODILE of Northern Africa. 

This terrible creature is found chiefly in the Nile, where it absolutely swarms, and 
though a most destructive and greatly dreaded animal, is without doubt as valuable in 
the water as the hyaena and vulture upon the land. Living exclusively on animal food, 
and rather preferring tainted or even putrefying to fresh meat, it is of great service in 
devouring the dead animals that would otherwise pollute the waters and surrounding 

EGYPTIAN CROCODILE. Crocodilus vulg&ru. 

It also feeds on fish, which it can catch by means of its great swiftness in the water, 
and is a dangerous foe to cattle or other beasts that come to the river-side for drink. 
Some persons relate that when its intended victim does not come sufficiently near to be 
snapped up, the Crocodile crawls to the banks, and with a sweep of its long and powerful 
tail strikes the poor creature into the water, where it is immediately seized in the 
Crocodile's ready jaws. 

Human beings have a great dread of this terrible reptile. Many instances are known 
where men have been surprised near the water's edge, or captured when they have fallen 
into the river. There is, it is said, only one way of escape from the jaws of the Crocodile, 
and that is to turn boldly upon the scaly foe, and press the thumbs into his eyes, so as to 
force him to relax his hold, or relinquish the pursuit. Mr. Petherick relates a curious 
instance, where a man was drawing water, and was chased by a Crocodile into the recess 
in the earth in which he was standing while working the lever of the "shadoof." The man 
crouched as far back as he could squeeze himself, and the Crocodile tried to follow him, 
but got itself so firmly wedged in the narrow channel through which it was endeavouring 
to force its way, that it could neither reach the man, whose trembling breast was within 
a span of the reptile's terrible teeth, nor retreat from the strange position into which it 
had forced itself. After spending some time in terror, the poor man contrived to give the 
alarm to his comrades, who came running to his assistance, and despatched the Crocodile 
as it lay helplessly fixed in the. crevice. 

The plates which cover the skin of the Crocodile are of exceeding hardness, so hard, 
indeed, that they are employed as armour by some ingenious warriors. A coat of natural 
scale armour formed from the Crocodile skin may be seen in the British Museum. Even 
a rifle ball may be turned by these horny plates, provided that it strikes rather obliquely ; 
and they are impervious to ordinary steel weapons. Modern rifles, however, especially if 
the ball is hardened with solder or tin, make little account of the plates, but cut their way 
through them without difficulty. 

As this reptile is so dangerous and costly a neighbour to the inhabitant of the river 
banks, many means have been adopted for its destruction. One such method, where 


a kind of harpoon is employed, is described by Dr. Ruppell : " The most favourable 
season is either the winter, when the animal usually sleeps on sand-banks, luxuriating in 
the rays of the sun, or the spring, after the pairing time, when the female regularly 
watches the sand islands where she has buried her eggs. The native finds out the place, 
and on the south side of it, that is, to the leeward, he digs a hole in the sand, throwing up 
the earth to the side which he expects the animal to take. Then he conceals himself, and 
the Crocodile, should it fail to observe him, comes to the accustomed spot and soon falls 

The huntsman then darts his harpoon with all his force at the animal, for in order 
that its stroke may be successful, the iron ought to penetrate to the depth of at least four 
inches, in order that the barb may be fixed firmly in the flesh. The Crocodile, on being 
wounded, rushes into the water, and the huntsman retreats into a canoe, with which 
a companion hastens to his assistance. A piece of wood, attached to the harpoon by 
a long cord, swims on the water, and shows the direction in which the Crocodile is 
moving. The huntsmen, pulling at this rope, drag the beast to the siirface of the water, 
where it is again pierced by a second harpoon. . . . 

When the animal is struck, it by no means remains inactive ; on the contrary, it 
lashes instantly with its tail, and endeavours to bite the rope asunder. To prevent this, 
the rope is made of about thirty separate slender lines, not twisted together, but merely 
placed in juxtaposition, and bound round at intervals of every two feet. The thin lines 
get between the teeth or become entangled about them." 

In spite of the great strength of the reptile, two men can drag a tolerably large one out 
of the water, tie up his mouth, twist his legs over his back, and kill him by driving 
a sharp steel spike into the spinal cord just at the back of the skull. 

There are many other modes of capturing and killing the Crocodile, such as a hook 
baited with meat, to which the voracious reptiles are attracted by the cries of a pig, which 
is pulLJ by the tail or otherwise maltreated, for the purpose of eliciting those ear-piercing 
yells which aggrieved swine always produce. The yelping of a dog answers the same 
purpose, and is used in the same manner. In some cases the negroes are bold enough to 
engage the Crocodile in its own element, and to attack it with a long knife, which they 
plunge into the belly. 

The eggs of the Crocodile are about as large as those of the goose, and many in 
number, so that these terrible reptiles would overrun the country, were they not persecuted 
in the earliest stages by many creatures, who discover and eat the eggs almost as soon as 
they are laid. It is curious that the Crocodile is attended by a bird which warns it of 
danger, just as the rhinoceros has its winged attendant, and the shark its pilot fish. The 
Crocodile bird is popularly called the ziczac, from its peculiar cry. 

SEVERAL other species of Crocodiles are known, among which two species are deserving 
of a short notice, namely, the INDIAN CKOCODILE (Crocodtlus porosus), and the AMERICAN 
CROCODILE (Crocodilus Americdnus). As the name of alligator is popularly given to 
these and other reptiles, there is great confusion respecting the precise animal which is 
under discussion. 

The Indian Crocodile, as its name imports, is an Asiatic species, and is found largely 
in India. It is sometimes called the DOUBLE-CRESTED CROCODILE, because the head is 
furnished with two long ridges extending from the front of the eye over the upper jaw. 
This species is common in Ceylon, and literally swarms in the still waters and tanks, 
though it is but rarely found in rapid streams, and never except in the low lands, the hill 
marshes being free from these pests. Respecting this animal, Sir E. Tennent writes as 
follows : 

" The species which inhabit the fresh water is essentially cowardly in its instinct, 
and hastens to conceal itself on the approach of man. A gentleman who told me the 
circumstance, when riding in the jungle, overtook a Crocodile evidently roaming in search 
of water. It fled to a shallow pool almost dried by the sun, and thrusting its head into 
the mud till it covered up its eyes, it remained unmoved in profound confidence of perfect 


In 1833, during the progress of the pearl fishery, Sir Robert Wilmot Horton employed 
men to drag for Crocodiles in a pond which was infested with them in the immediate 
vicinity of Aripo. The pool was about fifty yards in length by ten or twelve wide 
shallowing gradually to the edge, and not exceeding four or five feet in the deepest part. 

As the party approached the pond, from twenty to thirty reptiles, which had been 
basking in the sun, rose and fled to the water. A net, specially weighted so as to sink its 
lower edge to the bottom, was then stretched from bank to bank, and swept to the farther 
end of the pond, followed by a line of men with poles to drive the Crocodiles forward. 
So complete was the arrangement, that no individual could avoid the net ; yet, to the 
astonishment of the Governor's party, not one was to be found when it was drawn on 
shore, and no means of escape was apparent or possible except dashing into the mud at 
the bottom of the pond." 

The extreme tenacity of life possessed by these reptiles is well exemplified, though in 
a rather painful manner, by an incident which occurred in Ceylon. A fine specimen had 
been caught by a hook, to all appearance killed, the viscera removed, and the aperture kept 
open by a stick placed across it. A few hours afterwards the men came to their victim with 
the intention of cutting off the head, but were much surprised to find the spot vacant. On 
examination of the locality it was evident that the creature "had recovered itself in some 
strange manner, crawled away for some distance, and made its escape into the water. 

The same author also describes the habits of another species, the MAESH CROCODILE 
(Crocodilus palustris), sometimes known by the names of MUGGER, or GOA ; an animal 
which has a large range of locality, being found in Asia and Australia. Sometimes this 
species grows to a great length ; there is in the British Museum a skull twenty-six inches 
in length, denoting a total length of thirty-three feet. 

This animal is in the habit of traversing considerable distances in search of water, 
but, according to the Singhalese, its feet are sadly cut in passing over the hard stony 
ground. If it is baffled in its search, it returns to the exhausted pool, burrows beneath 
the mud, and there waits until released by the rains. Sir E. Tennent mentions one 
instance where he saw the recent impress of a Crocodile in the mud from which it had 
just emerged, and he was told of a curious incident which befell an officer attached to the 
surveying department. Having pitched his tent, he had retired to rest as usual, but 
during the night he was disturbed by a movement of the earth below his bed. On the 
following morning the mystery was solved by the appearance of a Crocodile, which made 
its way from under the bed. 

As is the case with the common Crocodile of Egypt, the young of this reptile are very 
small when hatched, but so fierce even in their early days, that they can be caught by 
pushing a stick towards them, letting them bite it, and pulling them out before they 
loosen their hold. A gentleman who has resided for eight years in Ceylon told me that 
one of his friends was so taken with the appearance of these little reptiles that he 
captured one, packed it carefully, and took it home. On arriving in his house he put the 
Crocodile, then about nine or ten inches long, into a basin of water and left it. Shortly 
afterwards a little boy, one of his children, peeped into the basin, and seeing the 
Crocodile, gave it a push with his finger. The fierce little creature at once snapped at the 
offending finger, and held it so tightly that the poor child could not shake it off, and ran 
screaming about the house with the young Crocodile dangling at the end of his finger, 
until it was removed by an attendant. 

ANOTHER well-known species is the AMERICAN CROCODILE, so often and so wrongly 
termed the alligator. This reptile is found in the tropical and hotter parts of America, 
and is very common in some localities. When first hatched, the young seem to feed only 
on living insects, and according to the experiments of M. Bosc, they would not even touch 
the insects with which they were supplied until their intended prey began to crawl. In 
Carolina these creatures pass their winter under the mud. During the summer they 
become lively at night, and make such a hideous bellowing that a person unaccustomed 
to it has no chance of sleeping. They also have a habit of clattering their jaws together 
with a loud noise. 


ANOTHER species, the MARGINED CROCODILE (Crocodilus margindtus), resides in the 
rivers of Southern Africa. It may be distinguished from the Egyptian species by the 
great concavity of the forehead, and the strong keels of the dorsal or back plates. I am 
indebted to Captain Drayson, E.A., author of " Sporting Scenes among the Kaffirs," for 
the following account of the Margined Crocodile and its habits, from which it appears 
that the reptile is formidable not only to the creatures on which it usually feeds, but to 
man himself: 

" About two or three miles from the Bay of Natal there is a river called the Umganie ; 
into this river a lake called the Sea-Cow Lake empties itself. The lake was, during my 
residence at Natal, the retreat of several hippopotami and Crocodiles, both of which were 
in the habit of treking into the Umganie river. Often when riding round the banks of 
this lake, 1 have disturbed two or three Crocodiles, which were stealing amongst the reeds 
and long grass, in hope of stalking a fat toad or a sleepy guana. Sometimes a scaly 
reptile might be awakened from his doze by the sound of my horse's feet, and would 
rush through the long reeds towards his retreat. Their movement is much more rapid 
than would be supposed from their appearance, and they care nothing for a fall head 
over tail, but almost fling themselves down the steep banks when alarmed. 

On the banks of the Umganie were several Kaffir kraals, in one of which resided 
a man who had been roughly treated by a Crocodile. This man, seeing me pass his 
residence, called to me and asked as a favour that I would watch at a particular part of 
the river until I shot a rascally Crocodile that had nearly killed him. The Crocodile, he 
informed me, always made its appearance about sundown, and he hinted that a position 
might be selected so that the sun would dazzle the Crocodile and prevent him from seeing 
me. Finding that I was willing to gratify his revenge, he limped out of the inclosure 
surrounding his huts, and offering me his snuff-gourd, he at my request gave me the 
following account of his escape. 

He had so frequently crossed the stream below his huts at all times of day, and had 
seen Crocodiles of small dimensions, that he had become as it were familiarized to them, 
and did not imagine that there was any danger to be expected from them. One evening, 
at about sundown, he was wading across the river, the water of which reached above his 
waist. Suddenly he felt himself seized by the under part of his thigh, whilst he was at 
the same instant dragged under water. His wife was following him, and seeing him fall 
she scrambled forward to the place where he had disappeared, and thus caused considerable 
noise and splashing, which (or something else, perhaps the toughness and bad flavour of 
the Kaffir) had the effect of making the Crocodile quit his hold on the Kaffir, not however 
without tearing off great portion of the under-part of his thigh. The man with difficulty 
escaped to the shore, but he remained a cripple for life, unable to do more than put the 
toes of his foot on the ground." 

WE now come to the ALLIGATORS, the second family of those huge reptiles which 
may be known, as has already been mentioned, by the lower canine teeth fitting into pits 
in the upper jaw. They are divided into three genera, all of which are inhabitants of 
the New World. They are indiscriminately called Alligators, Crocodiles, or Caymans, by 
the natives or the non-zoological traveller, and there is consequently much difficulty in 
identifying the particular species. The genus Alligator may be known by the partly 
webbed toes, the outer toe being free. 

The COMMON ALLIGATOR inhabits Northern America, and is plentifully found in the 
Mississippi, the lakes and rivers of Louisiana and Carolina and similar localities. It is a 
fierce and dangerous reptile, in many of its habits bearing a close resemblance to the 
crocodiles and the other members of the family. 

Unlike the crocodile, however, it avoids the salt water, and is but seldom seen even near 
the mouths of rivers, where the tide gives a brackish taste to their waters. It is mostly 
a fish-eater, haunting those portions of the rivers where its prey most abounds, and 
catching them by diving under a passing shoal, snapping up one or two victims as it 
passes through them, tossing them in the air for the purpose of ejecting the water which 
lias necessarily filled its mouth, catching them adroitly as they fall, and then swallowing 

ALLIGATOR. Alligator KTississipensit 

them. Though timid, as are most reptiles as long as their passions are not touched, the 
Alligator has within it a very mine of furious rage, which, when aroused, knows no fear. 
Urged by a blind instinct that sees no obstacles and hardly deserves so intellectual a 
name as. anger, it flings itself upon the assailants, and only ceases its attack as its last 
breath is drawn. 

No easy matter is it to drive the breath out of an Alligator, for its life seems to take 
a separate hold of every fibre in the creature's body, and though pierced through and 
through with bullets, crushed by heavy blows, and its body converted into a very pin- 
cushion, spears taking the place of the pins, it writhes and twists, and struggles with 
wondrous strength, snapping direfully with its huge jaws, and lashing its 'muscular tail from 
side to side with such vigour that it takes a bold man to venture within range of that 
terrible weapon. 

It is fortunate for the assailant that its head is not gifted with mobility equal to that 
of the tail The Alligator can only turn its head very slightly indeed, on account of two 
bony projections, one on each side of the head, which are efficient obstacles to any but the 
smallest lateral motion. The antagonist may therefore easily escape if on land, by 
springing aside before the reptile can turn. He must, however, beware of its tail, for the 
Alligator when angry, sweeps right and left with that powerful member, and deals the most 
destructive blows with wonderful rapidity. Still, the creature would rather avoid than 
seek a combat, and does not act in this fashion until driven to despair. 

-In some parts of America they catch the Alligator in a very ingenious manner. An 
ordinary hook is said to be of little service against such a quarry, and the natives employ 
a kind of mixture between a hook and grapnel which very effectually answers their 
purpose. This so-called hook is made of four sticks of hard tough wood barbed at each 
end, slightly curving and bound together at one end so as to cause all the upper barbs to 
radiate from each other. This apparatus is baited with the flesh of some animal, and 
suspended just about a foot from the water, the other end of the rope being made fast to 
a tree or strong stake. 

As soon as the Alligator takes this bait and begins to pull at the cord, the barbs begin 
to make their way into its throat, and it is evident from the construction of the hook that 
3. D 


the more the animal pulls, the firmer are the barbs struck into its throat. When thus 
hooked, its struggles are terrific, and Mr. Waterton, who succeeded in capturing a fine 
specimen more than ten feet in length, had the greatest difficulty in securing it without 
damaging its appearance. 

The eggs of the Alligator are small and numerous. The parent deposits them in the 
sand of the river side, scratching a hole with her paws, and placing the eggs in a regular 
layer therein. She then scrapes some sand, dry leaves, grass and mud over them, 
smoothes it and deposits a second layer upon them. These eggs are then covered in a 
similar manner and another layer deposited until the mother reptile has laid from fifty to 
sixty eggs. Although they are hatched by the heat of the sun and the decaying' 
vegetable matter, the mother does not desert her young, but leads them to the water arid 
takes care of them until their limbs are sufficiently strong and their scales sufficiently 
firm to permit them to roam the waters without assistance. 

As is the case with the crocodiles, the young Alligators are terribly persecuted by 
birds and beasts, and are even in danger of being eaten by the old males of their own 
species. During the winter months the Alligator buries itself in the mud, but a very 
little warmth is sufficient to make it quit its retreat and come into the open air again. 
While lively, especially at night, it is a most noisy animal, bellowing in so loud a tone 
and in so singular a cadence that even the nightly concert of jaguars and monkeys is. 
hardly heard when the Alligators are roaring. 

It sometimes attains to a great size, and is then formidable to man. Mr. Waterton 
mentions a case when one of these creatures was seen to rush out of the water, seize a 
man and carry him away in spite of his cries and struggles. The beast plunged into the 
river with his prey, and neither Alligator nor man were afterwards seen. 

The JACAEE, or YACARE (Jacare sclerops}, also belongs to this family. It inhabits 
Brazil and is not ^^ncommon. It may be known by the ridge across the face between 
the eyes, the scarcely-webbed hind feet and the fleshy eyelids. On account of the aspect 
of its eyes it is sometimes called the Spectacled Cayman. It is said that although this 
reptile attains a very large size, it will not attack a man even in the water, provided that 
he always keeps in motion They pass the night in the water and the day on the shore, 
where they lie sleeping on the sand, dashing into the water if alarmed. 

WE now leave the crocodiles and alligators, and proceed to another order of reptiles 
These creatures are termed Amphisbsenidse, from two Greek words signifying to go both 
ways, in allusion to the shape of the animal, which looks as if it had a head at each 
extremity. In former times indeed, it was thought that not only could these reptile' 
creep backward and forward with equal ease, but that they absolutely possessed two 
veritable heads. None of these reptiles are of great size. They are divided into four 
families, three of which are without external feet, and the members of the other family 
only possess the front pair of legs very slightly developed. Their eyes are very minute 
and entirely covered with skin, so that their sight must be of the most limited character. 
As in the case of the mole, however, this deprivation of sight does not interfere with the 
welfare of the animal, for it lives mostly beneath the earth, where eyes would be useless. 

The SOOTY AMPHISB^ENA is a native of Southern America, being found most 
plentifully in Brazil and Cayenne. It lives almost wholly underground, boring its way 
through the soft earth like the common worm, and traversing the soil with considerable 
address. It feeds upon animal substances, and is very fond of ants, termites and their 
young. Indeed, it is no extraordinary occurrence on breaking down a termite's nest, to 
find an Amphisbeena within, luxuriously curled up in the midst of plenty. Ant's nests 
below the ground are often penetrated and ransacked by this reptile. 

^eing too small to injure man by sheer force, and being devoid of poisonous teeth, this 
creature is quite harmless except to the insects on which it feeds. It is able to crawl in 
either direction with nearly equal ease and rapidity, and on account of the bluntness of 
its tail and the almost imperceptible eyes, affords some reason for the popular idea of its 
possessing two heads. 

SOOTY AMPHISB^BNA. Amfhisbcna AmerteaiM. 

In speaking of this reptile, Stedman has the following remarks. " This is the snake 
which, supposed blind, and vulgarly said to be fed by the large ants, is in this country 
honoured with the name of King of the Emmets. The flesh of the Amphisbsena, dried 
and reduced to a fine powder, is confidently administered as a sovereign and infallible 
remedy in all cases of dislocation and broken bones, it being very naturally inferred that 
an animal which has the power of healing an entire amputation in its own case, should at 
least be able to cure a simple fracture in the case of another." 

This process of reasoning alludes to a curious popular error respecting the Amphisbasna, 
The people of the countries which it inhabits believe that if one of these reptiles is cut 
in two, each half, being furnished with a separate head, hastens to its fellow part, and 
neatly fitting the severed surfaces, repairs the breach and is soon restored to its original 

It is rather a dull and sluggish animal when exposed to light, crawling slowly upon the 
ground, twisting itself lazily about, and opening its mouth in a purposeless kind of fashion 
without any definite intention of biting or escaping. 

The colour of the Sooty Amphisbasna is rather variable, but consists of black and 
white. Its length is about three feet. There are several species of this genus in the 
British Museum, one of which, the White Amphisbsena (Amphisbcena alba) is of a white 
colour, and remarkable for a little pellucid dot in the front edge of each scale. 

CLOSELY allied to this creature is another reptile, very appropriately called the 
CHETEOTES, or HAND-EARED LIZARD (Chetrotes lumbricoides). This is a native of Brazil, 
and as far as is known, is of subterranean habits, like the amphisbaena. 

The Cheirotes is the only example of all the amphisbasnas that possesses external 
limbs, and even in this instance, they are small and but slightly developed. There are no 
hind legs, but the two fore legs are set just behind the head ; nearly in the place where 
the ears might be expected to be seen. They are very short, rather flat and strong, and are 
terminated with five toes, four of which are armed with a tolerably strong claw. The 
fifth toe is very small and without a claw. 

The head of this creature is no larger than the body, the teeth are conical, moderately 
strong and slightly curved backwards, the muzzle is arched, the tongue horny at the tip, 
the tall is short, and there is a row of small pores on the under side of the abdomen. Its 
length is about eight or ten inches, and its colour is yellow, spotted with brown above, and 
whitish below. This species is the sole representative of its family. The other two 

D 2 

WHITE-THROATED REGENIA Regtnia aj^ul&rit. 

families, namely the Trigonophidse and the Lepidosternidae, may easily be distinguished oy 
the fact that in the former the teeth are set in the margin of the jaws instead of on their 
inner side as in the other families, and that in the latter, the scales on the chest are larger 
and of different shapes, whereas in the other two families they are all squared. Moreover 
the pores under the abdomen are absent. 

WE now leave the shielded reptiles and proceed to the Scaled Lizards. These 
creatures for ma very large and important group, and may be distinguished from the 
previous section by the covering of the body, which is formed of scales either granular or 
overlapping each other, instead of the straight-edged plates which cover the bodies of the 
tortoise and crocodiles. The tongue of these animals is rather long, nicked at the tip, and 
often capable of extension. The young are produced from eggs, sometimes hatched before 
being deposited, but generally after they have been laid in some suitable spot. The eggs 
are covered with a rather soft, leathery shell. 

The true LIZAEDS have four limbs, generally visible, but in a few instances hidden 
under the skin. Their body is long and rounded, and the tail is tapering and mostly 
covered with scales set in regular circles or " whorls." The mouth cannot be dilated as 
in the snakes, because the under jawbones are firmly united in front instead of being 
separable as in the serpents. The ear has a very singular appearance, the drum or 
" tympanum " being mostly distinct and exposed. 

There are twenty-four families of true Lizards, and passing by several anatomical and 
structural distinctions, which will be found at the end of the volume, we will proceed at 
once to the first family, called the MONITORS. In all these creatures the head is covered 
with very little, many-sided scales ; the tongue is long, slender, and capable of being 
withdrawn into a sheath at its base ; the scales are small, rounded, and arranged in cross 
rings, those of the side resembling those of the back ; the legs are four in number, and 
each foot has five toes. They are all inhabitants of the Old World, and are seldom if ever 
found far from water. 

remarkably fine and powerful species of Lizard, inhabiting Southern Africa. A rather 
full and accurate description of this Lizard is given by Dr. Smith. 

NILOTIC MONITOR. Monit or NiUticua*. 

" It is usually discovered in rocky precipices or on low stony hills, and when surprised 
seeks concealment in the chinks of the former o? the irregular cavities of the latter, and 
where any irregularities exist on the surface of the stones or rocks, it clasps them so 
firmly with its toes that it becomes a task of no small difficulty to dislodge it, even 
though it be easily reached. Under such circumstances the strength of no one man is able 
to withdraw a full-grown individual, and I have seen two persons required to pull a 
specimen out of a position it had attained, even with the assistance of a rope tied in front 
of its hinder legs. The moment it was dislodged it flew with fury at its enemies, who by 
flight only saved themselves from being bitten. After it was killed, it was discovered 
that the points of all the nails had been previously broken or at the moment it lost its hold. 

It feeds upon crabs, frogs, and small quadrupeds, and from its partiality to the two 
former, it is often found among rocks near running streams, which fact having been 
observed by the natives, has led them to regard it as sacred, and not to be injured without 
danger of drought." 

This fine Lizard has large, oblique nostrils, a shortish tail with a double keel on its 
upper surface, and the scales are oblong and have a blunt ridge or keel. The head is 
short and the scales of the body are large, convex, and surrounded with granulations. 
The length of the full-grown Regenia is nearly five feet, and its colour is dark brown, 
above variegated with large white spots, and paler beneath, especially under the throat. 

The NILOTIC MONITOR, or VAEAN or THE NILE, as it is sometimes called, is, as its 
name imports, a native of those parts of Africa through which the Nile, its favourite 
river flows. 


The natives have a curious idea that this reptile is hatched from crocodile's eggs 
that have been laid in hot elevated spots, and that in process of time it becomes a 
crocodile. This odd belief is analogous to the notion so firmly implanted in the minds of 
our own sea-side population, that the little hermit crab, which is found so plentifully in 
periwinkle shells, is the young of the lobster before it is big and hard enough to have 
a shell of its own. 

It is almost always found in the water, though it sometimes makes excursions on land 
in search of prey. To the natives it is a most useful creature, being one of the appointed 
means for keeping the numbers of the crocodile within due bounds. It not only searches 
on land for the eggs of the crocodile, and thus destroys great numbers before they are 
hatched, but chases the young in the water, through which it swims with great speed and 
agility, and devours them unless they can take refuge under the adult of their own 
species, from whose protection the Monitor will not venture to take them. 

When full grown, the Nilotic Monitor attains a length of five or six feet. The colour 
of this species is olive-grey above, with blackish mottlings. The head is grey, and, in the 
young animal, is marked with concentric rows of white spots. Upon the back of the 
neck is a series of whitish yellow bands, of a horse-shoe, or semilunar shape, set cross- 
wise, which, together with the equal-sized scales over the eyes, serve as marks which readily 
distinguish it from many other species. The under parts are grey, with cross bands of 
black, and marked with white spots when young. 

Specimens belonging to this genus are scattered over the greater part of the world. 
For example, the INDIAN MONITOE (Monitor dracoena) is found in the country from which 
it takes its name. It is rather a prettily marked animal, being brown with black spots 
when old, and yellow eye-like marks when young. Another species, GOULD'S MONITOR 
(Monitor Gould ii), inhabits Australia, being most commonly found on the western side of 
that land. 

WE now arrive at another family of Lizards, called, from the typical species, the 
Teguexins. In these reptiles, the head is covered with large, regular, many-sided shields, 
the sides are flat, and the throat has a double collar. 

Our first example is the TEGUEXIN, or VARIEGATED LIZARD, so called on account of 
the contrasting colours with which it is decorated. It is also known by the name of 
SAFEGUARD, a title which has been given to it because it is thought to give notice, by 
hissing, of the approach of the alligator. The monitors derive their name from a similar 
belief, they being thought to warn human beings of the approach of poisonous serpents. 

Several species of Tcguexin are known, all inhabiting the warmer portions of America, 
and possessing similar habits. It is said that, although strong and agile, they do not 
ascend trees, but range at will the hot sandy plains or the dense damp underwood on the 
margins of lakes and rivers, into which they plunge if alarmed, and remain below the 
surface until the danger has passed away, their capacious lungs and imperfect circulation 
permitting them to endure a very long immersion without inconvenience. 

The Teguexin is a large and powerful Lizard, exceeding five feet in length when full 
grown, and extremely active. It feeds mostly, if not entirely, upon animal food, and 
makes great havoc among snakes, frogs, toads, and other semi-aquatic creatures. It 
often indulges in diet of a higher nature, and when it can find an opportunity, devours 
poultry, or breaks and eats their eggs. Sometimes it has been known to eat Lizards of a 
closely allied species, a fact which has been proved by finding some bones, and other 
portions of the Ameiva lizard within the stomach of a Teguexin that had been killed. 
Together with these relics were found the shelly wing-cases of beetles, and the skins of 
sundry caterpillars. 

The teeth of this species are strong, and the reptile can bite with great force. It is a 
bold and determined combatant when attacked, and if it succeeds in grasping a foe, retains 
its hold with the pertinacity of the bulldog. The flesh of the Teguexin is eaten, and 
thought to be excellent. According to Azara, the skin of its tail, when separated into 
rings, is considered to be a safeguard against paralysis, and worn for that purpose, as well 
as to remove tumours, another healing power which it is .supposed to possess. 


tEGUEXIN. Terus Tegruxim. 

The general colouring of the Teguexin is as follows. The upper parts are deep blackj 
with bold mottlings of yellow or green. On the upper part of each side there are twc 
series of white spots, and the under parts are mostly yellow, with black bands. The 
colouring is, however, extremely variable. 

THE curious little AMEIVA, which has just been mentioned as falling a victim to the 
previous species, is closely allied to the Teguexin. It is rather a pretty Lizard, with a very 
long whip-like tail, and peculiarly elongated toes on the hinder feet. The long tail is 
covered with a series of scales, arranged in rings, of which about one hundred and twenty 
have been counted in a perfect specimen. The colour of the Ameiva is dark olive, 
speckled with black on the nape of the neck and front of the back. On the sides are 
rows or bands of white spots edged with black, from which peculiarity it is sometimes 
called the Spotted Lizard. There are many species of Ameiva, inhabiting either Central 
America, or the West Indian Islands. 

The SIX-LINED TAEAGUIEA also belongs to the Teguexins. This pretty little Lizard, 
with its dark green body, and yellow streaks, inhabits North America. Mr. Holbrook 
makes the following remarks respecting its habits. " This is a very lively, active animal, 
choosing dry and sandy places for its residence, and is frequently met with in the 
neighbourhood of plantations, or near fences and hedges. Most usually it is seen on the 
ground in search of insects ; its motions are remarkably quick, and it runs with great 
speed. It is very timid. It feeds on insects, and generally seeks its food towards the 
close of the day, when they may be seen in corn fields, far from their usual retreat ; and 
not unfrequently I have met male and female in company." 

SIX-LINED TARAGUINA. Cnemiduplwrua sex-line&tus. 

The colour of this little reptile is dark brown, with a perceptible purple gloss on the 
back, diversified with six narrow streaks of yellow, one line on each side reaching from the 
eye to the middle of the tail. The abdomen is bluish white, with a silvery lustre, and 
the throat is silvery white. The length of this species is from nine to eleven inches. 

A brief notice must also be given of two curious species, also belonging to the same 
family. The first is the SPUERED CENTEOPYX, or SPUERED LIZARD (Cintropyx cakdtus}, 
so called from two pair of small, sharp, horny spikes, which are set at each side of the 
base of the tail. The colour of this species is olive-green above, with three streaks of a 
paler hue, and a double series of black spots on the back. Below it is greenish white. 

The other species is the GREAT DRAGON (Ada Guianensis}, a native of tropical America. 
This fine Lizard is generally from four to nearly six feet in length, and is strong and 
nimble. It does not appear to be so good a swimmer as some of the preceding species, 
but runs fast, and can climb trees with great agility. It is generally found among the 
marshy and low-lying lands, though it spends more time on the land than in the water. 

It is a desperate fighter when attacked, and as it has a habit of hiding itself in a deep 
burrow, and bites fiercely at the hand that is thrust forward to seize it, is not easily 
captured. It is, however, much sought after, as its flesh is very good, and the eggs are 
thought to be great delicacies. There are usually from thirty to forty eggs. The general 
colour of this reptile is olive, yellow beneath, and mottled with brown. 

THE true LIZARDS, or Lacertinidee, now come before our notice. The tongue of these 
reptiles is long, flat, can be thrust out to some distance, and very deeply forked. The 
teeth are hollow at their roots, the scales are keeled, and the sides are flat. They are 
scattered over the greater part of the globe. 

England possesses at least two examples of this family, one of which, the SCALY 
LIZARD, is extremely common. 

This pretty little reptile is extremely plentiful upon heaths, banks, and commons, 
where it may be seen darting about in its own quick, lively manner, flitting among the 
grass stalks with a series of sharp, twisting springs, snapping up the unsuspecting flies as 
they rest on the grass blades, and ever and anon slipping under shelter of a gorse bush, 
or heather tuft, only to emerge in another moment brisk and lively as ever. 

These little creatures are so quick and sharp sighted, that it is not very easy to catch 
them, especially if they are among gorse bushes, for they twist about so adroitly, that a 
very smart movement of the hand is required to follow them, and the prickly points of 


SCALY LIZARD. Zootoca vivipara. 

the gorse are always lurking among the grass, to the detriment of a tender skin. They 
can swim tolerably if thrown into the water, but do not seem to seek that element 
voluntarily. I have generally found that when flung into water, they lie for a short time 
quite motionless, with their limbs 
extended, and tail straight, as if be- 
wildered with the sudden change. 
They soon, however, get their head 
towards shore, and then, with a 
serpentine movement of the tail, 
scull themselves to land. . 

This is one of the reptiles that 
produces living young, the eggs 
being hatched just before the 
young Lizards are born. With 
reptiles, the general plan is to 
place the eggs in some spot where 
they are exposed to the heat of 
the sunbeams ; but this Lizard, 
together with the viper, is in the 
habit of lying on a sunny bank 
before her young ones are born, 
apparently for the purpose of 
gaining sufficient heat to hatch 
the eggs. This process is aided 
by the thinness of the membrane 
covering the eggs. 

The colour of this little Lizard 

is extremely variable, but in general, the upper parts are olive-brown, with a dark brown 
line along the middle of the back, this line being often broken here and there. Along 
each side runs a broader band, 
and between these bands are sun- 
dry black spots and splashes. The 
under parts are orange, spotted 
with black in the male, and olive- 
grey in the female. The total 
length of the Scaly Lizard is 
about six inches. 

THE beautiful EYED LIZAED, 
as it is sometimes called, from 
the colours with which it is de- 
corated, is a native of Southern 
Europe, and various other warm 
portions of the world, being found 
in Algiers, Senegal, and parts of . 

This creature inhabits dry 
spots, where the sun has most 
power, and may be seen among 
hedges, underwood, or loose stones, 
running about in search of food, 
and displaying the gem-like bril- 
liancy of its clothing, as it darts from spot to spot with the agility which characterizes aD 
the species of this genus. 

It is of rather a fierce nature, having little fear, and boldly attacking any antagonist 

BTED LIZARD. oce-ta ocella'a. 


GREEN LIZARD. Laeerta viridit. 

that may assail it. If it be irritated with a stick, it will turn sharply upon the offending 
weapon, and bite it smartly, and if a dog attempts to seize it, the courageous little 
creature will spring upon its muzzle, and maintain its hold with such pertinacity, that it 
will suffer itself to be killed rather than relinquish its grasp. In consequence of this 
combative character, it is greatly respected by the inhabitants of the country where it 
dwells, and being thought to be poisonous as well as ferocious, is dreaded with a fear quite 
as keen, though not so reasonable, as would be inspired by a rattlesnake or cobra. 

The home of this species is generally made under the roots of trees if the soil be 
sufficiently dry and sandy to suit its habits. Otherwise it will excavate a tunnel in the 
side of a bank or under a hedge, always choosing a southern aspect so as to ensure the 
warmth which its nature seems to demand. Sometimes it settles upon a soft sandstone 
rock for its domicile, and hollows out a deep burrow in the softest part of the rock, mostly 
choosing the loose sandy layers that often occur between two tolerably broad strata of 
rock. Like the rest of the Lizards it feeds on insects and similar creatures, darting on 
them with great speed and certainty of aim. 

The colour of this Lizard is very beautiful, rendering it one of the most lovely of its tribe. 
The ground colour of the body is bright glittering green as if covered with an armour of 
emeralds, upon which are set along the sides some rather large eye-like spots of rich azure. 
A kind of network of black is also spread over the body, sometimes running in well- 
defined lines, and sometimes composed of rows of black dots. The temples of the Eyed 
Lizard are covered with unequal many-sided scales, rather convex in their form. Its 
length when full grown is about fifteen or sixteen inches, but it is very variable in size 
as well as in colour. 

A VEKY beautiful species of this genus is common in Jersey and many parts of 
Europe, Asia, and Africa. This is the GREEN LIZARD, sometimes called the JERSEY 
LIZARD. As its name imports, this reptile is of a green colour, and with the exception 
of the preceding species, is as beautiful a creature as can be seen. 

Like the eyed Lizard, it haunts sunny spots, and may be found in orchards, gardens, 
shrubberies, copses and similar localities, where it can find plenty of food and obtain 
concealment when alarmed. Old ruins, too, are greatly haunted by this beautiful Lizard, 
which flits among the moss-covered stones with singular activity, lying at one moment 
as if asleep in the sunbeams, or crawling slowly as if unable to proceed at any smarter 
pace, and then, when the hand is thrust towards it, disappearing with a rapidity that 
looks like magic. 

Since the great demand for ferneries and vivaria of different descriptions has arisen, 
this Lizard has been brought over to England in great numbers, as it is a beautiful ornament 



to a glass fern-case, and is sufficiently hardy to be kept alive with a very little care. It 
seems to revel in the sunshine, and there are few objects more beautiful than the emerald 
green hues of this Lizard as the sunbeams flash and glitter on its resplendent surface. 

It is susceptible of kindness, and can soon be tamed by those who choose to take the 
trouble of familiarizing themselves with their bright and lively favourite. Although 
sufficiently bold and apt to bite if it fancies itself aggrieved, it can be so thoroughly tamed 
that it will come and take flies out of the hand. In France and other countries this pretty 
harmless little creature is greatly dreaded, the popular belief attributing to it sundry 
destructive powers of the same nature as those which our rustic population believe to be 
exercised by the common newt. 

The colour of this beautiful creature is rich shining green above, a little blue some- 
times appearing upon the head, and the quality of the green being rather variable in 
different individuals. A multitude of little golden spots are also perceptible on the back, 
and similar dots of black are not unfrequently sprinkled over the surface. Underneath, 
the green fades into a yellower hue. 

UNTIL comparatively later years, the SAND LIZARD was confounded with the scaly 
Lizard, which has recently been described. 

This reptile is extremely variable in size and colouring, so variable, indeed, that it has 
often been separated into several species. Two varieties seem to be tolerably permanent, 
the brown and the green ; the former, as it is believed, being found upon sandy heaths 
where the brown hues of the. ground assimilate with those of the reptile, and the green 
variety on grass and more verdant situations, where the colours of the vegetation agree with 
those of the body. 

Though quick and lively in its movements, it is not so dashingly active as the scaly 
Lizard, having a touch of deliberation as it runs from one spot to another, while the scaly 
Lizard seems almost to be acted 
upon by hidden springs. It does 
not bear confinement well, and in 
spite of its diminutive size and 
feeble powers, will attempt to bite 
the hand which disturb? it in a 
place whence it cannot escape. 
When it find, itself hopelessly 
imprisoned, it loses all appetite 
for its food, hides itself in the 
darkest corner of its strange do- 
micile, and before many days have 
passed, is generally found lying 
dead on the ground. 

Unlike the scaly Lizard, this 
species lays its eggs in a con- 
venient spot and then leaves 
them to be hatched by the warm 
sunbeams. Sandy banks with a 
southern aspect are the favoured 
resorts of this reptile, which 
scoops out certain shallow pits 
in the sand, deposits her eggs, 
covers them up, and then leaves 
them to their fate. Mr. Bell, who 

has paid great attention to this subject, has remarked that the eggs are probably laid for 
a considerable period before the young are hatched from them. 

As has been already remarked, the colouring of this creature is exceedingly variable in 
different individuals. Generally it is sandy brown above, with some faint bands of a 
darker brown with rows of black spots, which sometimes have a whitish dot ia their cen tre. 

\ N 

SAND LIZAltD. Lacerta agiles. 


CAPE SPINE-FOOT. Acanthodactylu*. 

The sides have a tinge of green more or less distinct, and the under surface is white. In 
some individuals the green is very distinct, and Mr. Bell thinks with some reason that the 
many written accounts of discovering the green or Jersey Lizard in England, may be 
referred to the green variety of this species, which shone with peculiar lustre in consequence 
of the sunbeams being reflected from the shining sides. I know of one instance where the 
true Lacerta viridis was captured and killed near Oxford, but I believe that it must have 
been a wanderer from one of the numerous fern-cases that are to be seen in so many 
houses. The average length of the Sand Lizard is about seven inches or a little more. 

PASSING by a series of genera affording but few interesting points, we come to the 
curious animal called the CAPE SPINE-FOOT. The generic name Acanthodactylus, signifies 
Thorn, or Spine-toed, and is very appropriately given to this animal and the other species of 
the same genus. All the Spine-foot Lizards are inhabitants of Africa, and most of them 
are found towards the northern portion of that continent. 

According to Dr. Smith, " this Lizard is found on the sandy districts of Great Namaqua- 
land, and where the surface of the country is irregular it is generally met on the highest 
spots. Where small sand-hills occur, it resorts to them in preference to the other localities, 
aad from the peculiar assistance it derives from the serrated fringes which edge its toes, it 
runs over the loose sand on the steep surfaces of those slopes with great activity. It feeds 
on insects." 

The colour of this Lizard is a very peculiar brown above, changing from yellow-brown 
to a much warmer hue, partaking of the orange. The top of the head is mottled with 
dark brown, and the back is freckled with the same hue. From the eyes run two whitish 
bands on each side, the lower terminating at the hind leg and the upper reaching some 
distance along the tail. Between and about these bands are bold brown mottlings in the 
male, and an orange wash in the female. The upper part of the legs are also mottled with 
dark brown. The toes are very long, especially those of the hind foot, and are edged with 
a fringe composed of sharply pointed scales. The female is larger and more clumsily made 
than the male. 

ANOTHER pretty species of Lizard, termed the NAMAQTJA EEEMIAS, is found in the 
portion of Africa from which it derives its name. The name Eremias signifies a dweller in a 
wilderness, and is given to this and several other species because it is always found in hot 
and arid situations, the sandy flats between Cape Town and Little Namaqua-land being 
its most favoured localities. 

NAMAQUA EREMIAS. Eremias Namaquensis. 

It is chiefly remarkable for the great length and slenderness of its tail, which measures 
five and a half inches in length, although the head and body together are only two inches 
long. The colour of the back and upper parts is delicate brown mottled with a deeper hue, 
and along the back are drawn four narrow lines of light reddish orange. ' The sides are 
cream-yellow, the upper portions of the legs are olive-brown, and the under surface of the 
animal is yellowish white. There is a trifling variation in the colouring according to the 
age of the individual. Thirteen or fourteen species of this genus are known to zoologists, 
most of them being natives of Africa. 

OUR last example of the true Lizards or Lacertinidse is the curious little creature 
termed the ELEGANT OPHIOPS. Two species are known as belonging to this genus, and 
they can at once be separated from the true Lizards by the character of the eyelids, which 
are only rudimentary and hardly visible, so as to have gained for their owners the generic 
title of Ophiops, or Serpent-eyed Lizards. 

The Elegant Ophiops inhabits the south-eastern portions of Europe, and the neigh- 
bouring parts of Asia. The shores of the Mediterranean appear to be favourite localities 
of the Ophiops, and in those places it is not at all uncommon. It is lively and active in 
character, and, like the rest of the same family, feeds on insects, which it catches by 
suddenly springing on them as they repose from their aerial excursions or crawl along 
the ground. Like most Lizards, it is rather variable in colouring, but the general tints 
are as follows. The back and upper parts are olive, sometimes deepening into bronze. 
Along each side run two bands of pale yellow, and between the bands are sundry black 
spots, also arranged in lines, but varying in form, size, and number according to the age 
of the individual. The under parts are white. 

Quitting the true Lizards, we come to another family of reptiles, called the Zonuridae, 
or Band-tailed Lizards, because the scales of the tail are arranged in regular series or 
rings, and by their overlapping cause the edges to stand out boldly in whorls. Along the 
sides of these reptiles runs a distinct longitudinal fold, covered with little granular scales, 
and the eyes are furnished with two valvular lids. 

The COMMON ZONTJKUS, or EOTJGH-SCALED COEDYLE, is a native of Southern Africa, 
and very plentiful at the Cape, where it may be seen among the rocks or in sunny 
localities flitting from spot to spot with some speed, though not exhibiting the singular 
activity which is possessed by many of the smaller Lizards. It is chiefly remarkable for 
the curious aspect of the tail, with its whorls of spike-tipped scales, which looks as if 

ELEGANT OPH1OPS. Ophu>ts elegun*. 

a number of thimbles had been deeply notched round their edges and then thrust into 
one another. 

There is a somewhat similar reptile called the COMMON COEDYLE (Cordylus poly- 
gonus), but it may be distinguished by a peculiarity of structure which has caused it to 
be placed in a different genus. In the members of the genus Zonurus, the eyelids are 
opaque, as is generally the case, but in the genus Cordylus there is a smooth transparent 
spot in the centre of the lower eyelid. 

The form of the Eough-scaled Cordyle is rather stout and flattened, as accords with 
the comparative slowness of its movements. In colour it is variable, but the usual tints 
are orange-yellow on the back, sides, and tail, fading into yellow on the head and white 
on the under parts. This species may be distinguished from the other Cordyles by the 
omooth shields of the head and the rhomboidal-shaped scales of the back, which are 
larger in the centre than on the sides and decidedly keeled. On the flanks the keels are 
so long as to become spines, and the sides of the neck are covered with sharp spine- 
like scales. 

THE second species in the illustration is the FALSE COEDYLE, which is placed in a 
separate genus on account of the shape and size of the scales upon the back and sides. 
Instead of being large and tolerably even in size, as in the preceding genus, they are very 
small and granular, alternating with bands of larger scales, which are three-sided, convex, 
and slightly keeled. These scales are largest on the sides of the back. The generic 
name Microlepidotus signifies small-scaled, and is given to these creatures in allusion to 
the minute scales of the back and sides. 

The habits of this reptile are much like those of the previous species. Dr. A. Smith 
writes as follows respecting this creature, after describing the singular variations of colour 
to which it is subject : 

" Each of the varieties appeared to be restricted to its own localities, and, so far as my 
observations extend, no specimens of two varieties are ever found in the same localities. 
All the varieties inhabit rocky situations, and when they have a choice they invariably 
prefer precipices and the stony walls of difficultly accessible ravines. In this situation 
they wander carelessly in search of food or warmth, unless alarmed by whart they may 
regard as enemies. On being closely approached in their retreats they are with difficulty 
captured, as by aid of the prominences on the hinder edge of each temple, they hold on 
with a tenacity which is quite surprising, and by them they occasionally offer such an 

ROUGH-SCALED COBDYLE. Zonurus Cordylus. 

FALSE COKDYLE. I'seudocurdylus micrutepidotVi. 

effectual resistance to the force applied from behind, that the tail breaks off from the 
body before the reptile is secured." 

As, in Dr. Smith's work, the description of the different varieties occupy nearly five 
quarto pages of letterpress, it is evidently impossible to give more than a general 
description in this volume. Suffice it to say, that in one variety, found on the Table 
Mountain and about Cape Town, the colour is ochry yellow above banded with dark 
brown ; in another, which inhabits the rocks about Algoa Bay, it is yellow, with bold 
black bars along the back ; another, which lives on the banks of the Orange Kiver, is 
brown above, warming into bright chestnut in the male and olive-green mottled with 
dusky black in the female ; and a fourth variety, which is found in the high mountainous 
regions about Natal, is bright green, with ah olive-green stripe and short bars of the same 
tint across the back. The tail is also banded with two shades of green, one a deep olive, 
and the other having a much yellower hue. The female of this variety is without the 
bands, and is only mottled with dark olive and spotted with the same hue along the sides. 
The length of the False Cordyle is about eighteen inches. 

A SMALL group of reptiles is collected under the generic title of Gerrhosauri, or 
Basket-Lizards, because the arrangement of their scales and colouring has an effect as 
if the body had been covered with delicate wicker-work, such as is employed to protect 
glass flasks from injury. 

These Lizards are natives of Southern Africa, where they are far from uncommon. 
They are all rather pretty in form and colouring, but the most pleasing in general 
appearance is BIBKON'S GEEKHOSAUKUS (GerrhosaurusBibroni}. This animal is found near 
the Orange Kiver, and may be seen slipping about among the rocky sides of the dark 
ravines that are so plentiful in that neighbourhood. It is a very shy and timid creature, and 
if it fancies itself watched by an unfriendly eye, or suspects the least shadow of danger, 
it quietly glides under the heap of dead wood and dried leaves which collect in abundance 
in such localities, and will not venture out again until it is tolerably sure that the dangei 
has passed away. 

SAUROPHIS. Sfiurophis tetraddctylut. 

As is the case with most of these Lizards, there is considerable variation of colouring, 
but in general the upper surface is dark brown, and the sides of the head, the throat and 
front of the fore limbs are bright scarlet. Along the back run four yellow lines, of which 
the two central only extend as far as the hind legs, whereas the two outer streaks are 
continued to the extremity of the tail. It is not a large species, being about ten or 
eleven inches in length. 

THE generic name SAUKOPHIS, which is given to the reptile next in order, is of Greek 
origin and signifies Lizard-Snake, in allusion to the very serpentine aspect of its body. 

This singular creature inhabits Southern Africa, and at first sight might be easily 
mistaken for a serpent as it crawls about the ground, its four tiny limbs being far too weak 
to render it any great assistance in progression, which is achieved, as in the serpents, by 
continual movement of the projecting edges of the scales. Very little is known of 
its habits. 

The head of this reptile is of a somewhat pyramidal shape and covered with shields, 
as are both temples. The scales of the back are slightly grooved and a small keel runs 
across their length ; they are regularly arranged in fourteen series. On the abdomen, the 
shields are in six rows. There are four very small and feeble limbs, each of which is 
furnished with four little short and compressed toes, with rather long claws at their 
extremities. The body is long and cylindrical, and a decided groove runs along each side. 
Its colour is tawny brown, each scale being of a deeper hue at its edge, so as to give a 
slightly mottled appearance to the creature. The legs and lower edge of the temple are 
white, spotted with little dots of black. 

ON account of the great rapidity of its movements, the reptile represented in the 
accompanying illustration has received the appropriate title of TACHYDKOME, a name 
derived from the Greek, and signifying a swift runner. 

This pretty little Lizard is an Asiatic animal, being mostly found in China, Cochin 
China, and Java. Although its limbs are much larger and more powerful in proportion 
to the size of the body than those of the preceding species, its tail is of such great 
comparative length and so slender in its proportions, that, quick as is the creature 
in all its movements, it has much of a serpentine aspect. The tail indeed is longer in 
proportion to the body than is the case with any other of the order, being three times the 
length of the body and head, and tapers from the body like the thong of a whip from 
its handle. 

TACHYDROME. Tactiydromus sexH-ftltus. 

The collar of this creature is covered with scales and decidedly toothed. The scales 
of the back are nearly square in form, slightly overlap each other, and are arranged in four 
longitudinal series. Each scale has a decided keel along its length. The scales of the 
sides are small and granular, and those of the abdomen and throat are larger, strongly 
keeled, and boldly overlap each other, a provision which is evidently intended for the 
purpose of aiding the creature in progression, and enabling it to hold itself firmly in any 
cleft into which it may have retreated. The scales of the common snake answer the 
same purpose, as any one may prove by taking a snake by the tail and drawing it 
backwards over a carpet, or by allowing itself to insinuate half of its body into a crevice 
in a rock or old wall, and then endeavouring to draw it out again by pulling at its tail. 

The colour of this pretty Lizard is dark olive above. On each side a bold white streak, 
edged on either side with black, runs from the base of the head to the insertion of the 
tail. On the sides of the body and neck are a multitude of little black dots, each having 
a white centre, and between these dots the colour is blue, glossed with golden yellow. 
The abdomen and under parts are pure shining white, and the tail is generally olive, 
though in some specimens it has something of a metallic or iridescent lustre, and gleams 
with golden or coppery reflections. Between the nostril and the eye runs a short black 
line, and on the temples are two similar lines, with a white streak between them. The 
total length of the Tachydrome is about one foot. 

IN the curious snake-like Lizard called the SCHELTOPUSIC, or PSEUDOPUS, the limbs are 
almost entirely absent, the front pair being altogether wanting, and not even exhibiting 
a trace of their locality, while the hind pair of legs are only indicated by two slight 
scale-like appendages at the junction of the tail with the body. It is often the case that 
with reptiles in which the limbs are externally wanting, their bones, although very small 
and delicate, are found beneath the skin. But in the Sclieltopusic, the only indication of 
legs is found in a pair of very tiny bones attached to the pelvis, and exhibiting the 
merest rudiment of the missing limb. 

Moreover, the pelvis itself is very small and slight, and is itself scarcely more than 
rudimentary in its form, though affording one of the needful transition links between the 
quadrupedal Lizards and the footle'ss snakes, some of which, indeed, possess the rudiments 
of limbs even in a more doubtful state than is found in the Scheltopusic. In consequence 
of the absence of limbs, the movements of this reptile are completely those of a serpen^, 
and so snake-like is it in all its gestures, that in the countries where it resides, it is 
popularly considered as a serpent, as is the case with the blindworm of England. 
3. ' E 


The ScheLtopusic is a native of the coast of Northern Africa, and is also found in 
Dalmatia, the Morea, and parts of Siberia, where it is called by the title under which it is 
now generally known. It seems to be rather a timid creature, and very mistrustful of 
strange sights or sounds, always remaining within the vicinity of some familiar spot, 
whither it seeks an immediate retreat if disturbed. 

Thickly wooded valleys, where the underwood is dark and dense, and the vegetation is 
rank and heavy, are favourite localities of this harmless and weaponless reptile, which has 
no mode of defence if attacked, and can only retreat from the approach of danger by 
gliding silently under the brushwood and insinuating itself in some dark crevice, where it 
lies secure. So watchful is this creature, that although its movements are rather slow, it is 
not very easily captured, mostly gliding away in so silent a manner that it has reached its 
haven of safety before its presence is even suspected. 

Even if it be seen and followed, it is not readily captured after once it has succeeded 
in burying itself among the brushwood, for its colour is sufficiently sombre to harmonize 
so well with the dark soil and dead sticks and leaves among which it resides, that its 
outline can with difficulty be discerned, even by a practised eye. As is the case with . 
most reptiles, it loves to emerge from its retreat and crawl to some spot where the 
sunbeams have thoroughly warmed the ground, and there to lie basking in the genial 
heat. While thus occupied, it is not so wary as at other times, and may be approached 
and secured before it can make good its retreat. 

The whole aspect of this reptile is so serpentine that it has been attacked and killed 
under the impression that it was a poisonous snake, and great has been the surprise of its 
slayers to find that they had destroyed, not a venomous serpent, but a harmless Lizard. 
This creature has been often captured alive and kept in confinement. In its wild state it 
feeds mostly on insects, the smaller reptiles, and similar creatures, sometimes gliding into 
a nest of newly hatched birds and swallowing them. This propensity was once exhibited 
by a captive Scheltopusic ; it had fed very contentedly on hard-boiled eggs, until one 
day it contrived to gain access to a nest full of very young birds, and swallowed the 
whole brood. 

GLASS SNAKE. -.'K.'-i>w/rvs vin/rfC.1*. 

The jaw-teeth of this reptile, although not of a venomous character, are strong, and 
those of the palate, although small, are probably useful in aiding the creature to secure and 
swallow its prey. The tongue is thin and covered with little papillae of various sizes. 
Along each side runs a rather deep groove or furrow, which, on a closer inspection, is 
found to be double. The scales of the back are rather shining and closely set, and there 
is a slight keel running along the centre of each scale, which is shown more distinctly 
on the tail than on the body. The keel is shown more distinctly in the young than in 
the adult. 

The colour of this reptile is rather variable, but in general the ground colour of the 
body is chestnut, profusely dotted with blackish spots, caused by the dark edges or spots 
of each scale. These scales are arranged in a regular series of thirteen longitudinal rows. 
The eye is bright golden green, and has a very beautiful appearance, as it contrasts well 
with the chestnut and black of the body and head. The young Scheltopusic is very 
different from its parent in the colouring, being grey above, with rather obscure bands of 
greyish brown, and the under sur r ace is grey, with a whitish lustre. The length of the 
Scheltopusic is about eighteen in ,hes, the tail occupying about three-fifths of the whole 

THE curious reptile which is appropriately called the GLASS SNAKE is a native of 
North America. 

In this creature there is not even a vestige of limbs, so that it is even more snake-like 
than the preceding species. The generic title of Ophisaurus is of Greek origin, signifying 
Snake-lizard, and is given to the reptile on account of its serpentine aspect. The reader 
may remember that on page 48 there is an account of the saurophis, a name which is 
exactly the same as that of the present species, except that the one is called the lizard- 
snake, and the other the snake-lizard, a distinction which, in the present case, is without a 
difference, so that the two reptiles might exchange titles and yet be appropriately named. 

The Glass Snake is indeed so singularly like a serpent that it can only be distinguished 
from those reptiles by certain anatomical marks, such as the presence of eyelids, which 



are wanting in true serpents, the tongue not sheathed at the base, and the solid jawbones, 
which in the serpents are so loosely put together that the parts become widely separated 
when the mouth of the creature is dilated in the act of swallowing its prey. 

The Glass Snake is one of the earliest of the reptile tribe to make its appearance in the 
spring, shaking off its lethargy and coming out of its home to bask in the sunbeams and 
look after the early insects, long before the true snakes show themselves. It is generally 
found in spots where vegetation is abundant, probably because in such localities it finds a 
plentiful supply of the insects, small reptiles, and other creatures on which it feeds. 

It is fond of frequenting the plantations of sweet potato ( Convolvulus batatas), and 
during harvest-time is often dug up together with that vegetable. The home of this 
reptile is made in some very dry locality, and it generally chooses some spot where it can 
be sheltered by the roots of an old tree, or a crevice in a convenient bank. It moves with 
tolerable rapidity, and its pursuer must exercise considerable quickness before he can 
secure it. 

To catch a perfect specimen of the Glass Snake is a very difficult business, for when 
alarmed, it has a remarkable habit of contracting the muscles of its tail with such exceeding 
force that the member snaps off from the body at a slight touch, and sometimes will break 
into two or more pieces if struck slightly with a switch, thus earning for itself the 
appropriate title of Glass Snake. Our common blindworm, which will be described in a 
future page, possesses a similar capacity, and often uses it in a rather perplexing fashion. 
Catesby remarks that this separation of the tail into fragments is caused by the construction 
of the joints, "the muscles being articulated in a singular manner quite through the 
vertebrae." The tail is more than twice the length of the body, from which it can only be 
distinguished by a rather close inspection. 

The head of the Glass Snake is small in proportion to the body, rather pyramidal in 
shape. Along each side of the body runs a rather deep d uble groove. The colouring of 
this creature is extremely variable, but is generally as follows : The head is mottled above 
and at the sides with black and green, and the jaws are edged with yellow. The upper 
part of the body is marked with multitudinous lines of black, green, and yellow, and the 
abdomen is bright yellow along its length. In the tail there are about one hundred and 
forty rings of scales. Sometimes the upper surface is black on the sides and neck, and 
brown on the back, the head being marbled with yellow and black ; another variety is 
chestnut above, with white spots edged with black, and the under parts pale orange ; while 
a third variety is grey mottled with black. The total length of this reptile is from two to 
three feet. 

FOUK small families now follow, containing but very few individuals. The first of these 
is called the CHALCID^E. These reptiles have long cylindrical bodies, with a slight granular 
groove on the front of each side, and four very short rudimentary limbs. The typical 
species of this family is the CHALCJS ( Chalets flavescens), a native of tropical America, 
Guiana, and the neighbouring parts. The fore feet have three toes, but the hind feet are 
undivided, so as to form a single toe. The scales are squared, and arranged in twenty 
longitudinal series on the back, and six series on the abdomen. 

THE next family, the ANADIAD^E, contains, as far as is known, only one species, the 
EYED ANADIA (Anadia ocellata), thought to inhabit tropical America. In this creature 
the lower eyelids are pellucid, the scales of the back and sides six-sided and not over- 
lapping each other, while those of the abdomen are squared. The limbs are four in 
number, and there are five unequal and rather flattened toes on each foot. The colour of 
this species is pale brown, with a bronze gloss, deepening on the sides and having some 
white spots edged with black towards the front. Beneath it is shining white. 

IN the family of the CHIEOCOLID^E there is likewise only one species, called the 
CHIKOCOLE (Heterodactylus imbricatus), a native of Brazil. This creature has a double 
collar, and the ears are hidden beneath the skin. The scales of the back, the sides and the 
tail, are six-sided, rather sharp, arranged in regular rings, and furnished with keels. Those 



of the abdomen are squared and arranged longitudinally in six rows. There are four short 
legs, with five toes on each foot, the thumb of the fore limbs being only rudimentary. The 
colour of the Chirocole is brown, with a pale streak on each side. 

THE fourth family is the CERCOSAURIDJS, containing two genera. These animals have 
the ears distinct, the throat with a double series of shields, and the collar distinct. On the 
back and upper part of the tail the scales are large, boldly keeled, and arranged into a 
regular longitudinal series. The scales of the under portions are squared and flat. There 
are four limbs, each with five unequal toes. A good type of this family is afforded by the 
EYED CERCOSAURUS (Cercosaura ocellatd). The body of this creature is long and rather 
cylindrical. Its colour is black with four white streaks, the head and the under parts are 
yellowish, and the sides are sprinkled with green, and variegated with eight or nine white 
spots edged with black. 

ANGUINE LIZARD. Chamrsaura j.n<jmna 

OUR last example of the Cyclosaurian reptiles is the ANGUINE LIZARD, or CHAALESAURA, 
the only representative of its family. 

The Anguine Lizard is a native of Southern Africa, and is obtained from the Cape of 
Good Hope ; of its habits there is but little known. It is a curious-looking creature, 
exceedingly snake-like in general appearance, its four limbs being of the most rudimentary 
character, small, delicate, feeble, not even separated into toes at the extremity, but ending 
in a single claw as if the whole limb were only composed of one small joint. These 
imperfect limbs are wholly useless for progression, those of the anterior extremity being 
hardly larger than the long narrow scales with which the body is covered, and the hinder 
pair exhibiting but very little more development. 

So perfectly serpentine is the form of this creature that the mark of separation between 
the tail and body is so slightly defined that the precise line of junction is almost invisible, 
whereas in the common blindworm, itself a most snake-like reptile, the line of demarcation 
is plainly shown by a decided diminution in the diameter. The tail is very long and 
slender, measuring more than twice the length of the body. 

The head of the Anguine Lizard is covered with regular many-sided shields, and the 
temples and the whole of the body and tail are clothed with scales, their edges projecting 
boldly, and arranged in a series of regular rings or "whorls." Along the back there are 
six rows of broad scales, and on the sides and abdomen the scales are long, narrow, and 
with a decided keel running along their central line. There is no groove along the sides, 


which are rounded. Upon the head the plates are rather long, keeled, and project very 
slightly over each other. The ears are distinct. The colour of the Anguine Lizard is 
brown, and along each side runs a long yellow streak. 

A SECOND tribe of Lizards now conies before our notice. These are the GEISSOSAURI, 
a title derived from two Greek words, the former signifying the eaves of a house, and the 
latter a Lizard. As in this tribe there are many families, and more than eighty genera, it 
will be impossible to give more than a very slight account of these reptiles, or even to 
mention more than a small number selected as types of the large or small groups which 
they represent. 

Indeed, the lower we descend in the scale of creation, the more numerous the species 
seem to become, and the more perplexing is the task of selecting those species which arc 
worthy of mention on account of their scientific characteristics, and yet possess sufficient 
individuality to interest the general reader. 

To watch the greater number of reptiles in their wild state, is a task simply impossible 
for any human being to achieve. Many reptiles live in dry and thirsty lands, where no 
creatures but the white ant and the Lizard seem to acquire moisture, and through which 
the traveller can only pass with hasty steps, dieading the delay of each minute lest his 
precious store of water should fail, and leave him to perish by the most terrible of deaths. 

Others reside on the sides of precipitous rocks, over which the enterprising traveller 
can only pass at hazard of life and limb, and in any case would not be able to watch the 
proceedings of the shy and timid Lizards that find their home among these craggy recesses, 
and retreat into them on the slightest alarm. But the chief residence of the reptile race is 
to be found in hot climates, and in low, swampy ground, where the morasses are ever 
filled with decaying vegetable matter, and exhale a soft, thick miasma, as deadly to the 
white man as the fumes of arsenic, and injurious even to the dark-skinned native, who can 
breathe unharmed a fetid atmosphere that would smite down his white master as quickly 
and surely as if he were struck with a bullet, and who only attains his fullest develop- 
ment under these conditions. 

In these dread regions, their seething putridity concealed by all the luxuriant vegetation 
of tropical climes, like a royal mantle flung over a festering corpse, the reptile race abound, 
the poisoned air being to these creatures the very breath of life, and the surrounding 
decay the sustaining power of their existence. Indeed, the object of their lives seems 
to be, by individual transmutation of poisons into living flesh, to destroy by slow but 
certain degrees the mass of decaying vegetation, and so to prepare an abiding place for 
beings of a higher order than themselves. 

On placing ourselves even in imagination amid such scenes, we seem to be transported 
back into the former ages of our earth, when man could find no resting-place for his foot, 
and no atmosphere which he could breathe and live ; when the greater part of the soil was 
little more than soft mud, the air thick, dank, heavy, and overcharged with decomposition, 
and the multitude of strange reptiles that bored their slimy way through the deep ooze, 
crawled lazily upon the slowly hardening banks, or urged their devious course through 
the turbid waters, were the physically ruling though morally subservient powers of the 

Little is wanting to complete the illusion except to give to every object an increase of 
dimensions, for the vegetation of those days was rank and luxuriant to a degree that is 
now well indicated, though on a smaller scale, by the foliage of the tropics, and the huge 
forms of the ancient and now extinct reptile race are closely reproduced by the more 
familiar inhabitants of the swamp before us. 

As the expanse of putrefaction was greater in those epochs, so the miasma destroyers 
were larger. Frogs and toads as big as calves, reptilian quadrupeds as large as elephants, 
and reptilian bats expanding leatherywings as wide as those of the pelican, were fit inha- 
bitants of the atmosphere which they breathed, and in which their mission was consum- 
mated. Now that the marshy districts are smaller and less poisonous, the reptile race 
that inhabits them is of smaller dimensions. 

The earth has now been so far purified by successive generations and regenerations of 

I'YGOPUS. Fygnpus 

life and death, added to human ingenuity and industry, that its harmful districts occupy 
but a comparatively small portion of its surface, the greater part of the world beine; 
suitable for human habitations, the black man settling as a pioneer, a hewer of wood and 
drawer of water, where the white man cannot yet abide. But in all those localities 
where the miasmatic exhalations impall the land with their pestilential mantle, and scatter 
the seeds of death on every breeze, the reptiles may be found luxuriating amid the deadly 
elements, and thriving in spots where the foot of man dares not tread, and his inquiring 
eye ventures not to penetrate. 

THE first family of this tribe is distinguished by the apparent absence of eyelids, those 
organs being only rudimentary and scarcely visible, so as to give to the eyes a superficial 
resemblance to those of the serpents. On account of this peculiarity, the reptiles belonging 
to this family are termed the Gape-eyed Skinks. Their bodies are spindle-shaped, their 
tongues are scaly, nicked at the tip, their teeth are conical, and their limbs are four in 
number, and very feeble. 

These creatures are found in various parts of the globe, but Australia seems to be their 
favourite home. The PETE or AUSTEALIAN TILIQUA (CrytobUpharus Boutonii) is a good 
example of the Gape-eyed Skinks or GYMNOPHTHALMID^E, a long name derived from two 
Greek words signifying naked-eyed. As its name imports, this reptile is a native of 
Western Australia, but it is also found in other parts of the world, specimens having been 
taken in Timor and the Mauritius. The colour of the Pete is olive, sometimes with a 
wash of bronze, mottled with brown, and variegated with little black streaks. Sometimes 
there is a bright yellow streak on each side. Its eyelid is circular and scaly, and the three 
upper scales are the largest. 

THE next family is well represented by the PYGOPUS, or NEW HOLLAND SCHELTOPUSIC, 
a curious reptile that inhabits Australia. 

This creature might easily be mistaken for the snake-like Lizard called the Schelto- 
pusic, which has already been described on page 49, as the two fore legs are entirely 
absent, and the hinder pair are very small, rudimentary, and set so closely against the 


body that they would escape a casual glance. They are flattish, covered with scales, and 
are not even divided into joints or toes, so that they are wholly useless for progression, 
the Pygopus creeping along after the ordinary fashion of snakes. 

If the creature be turned on its back, a curious arrangement of scales is seen. Between 
the bases of the lower limbs, several large shield-like scales are seen, and just above them 
is a row of rather long and arched scales, extending in a semicircular form from one limb 
to the other, and looking much like the stones that are set upon the summit of an 
arched doorway. Each of these scales is pierced with a circular pore, so that the general 
effect is very striking. The whole body of this reptile is very long in proportion to its 
width, and it has altogether a very serpentine aspect. 

The head of the Pygopus is rather short, and is covered above with some rather large 
shields, that upon the top of the head being equal to any two others in size. The scales 
of the back are keeled, and its colour is coppery grey, with five rows of rather oblong white 
spots with black centres, and a few black streaks drawn obliquely upon the sides of the 

The DELMA (Delma Fraseri) is very like the pygopus, but may be distinguished from 
it by the scales of the back, which are smooth and without keels, by the shorter hinder 
limbs, the absence of the pores, and the elliptical shape of the pupil of the eye, that of the 
pygopus being circular. 

Two more small families of reptiles are worthy of a passing notice. The first is that 
which is represented by a single species, the APEASIA (Aprasia pulchelld), and remarkable 
for being destitute of limbs, and having none of the pores which have just been mentioned. 
The body is lengthened, and covered with six-sided scales on the upper surface and flanks. 
The scales are quite smooth, and their colour is pale brown, with a dot of dark hue in 
the centre of each scale, giving a sort of variegated aspect. Along the flanks these dots 
become longer, so that they almost join each other, and form imperfect streaks on the 
sides. The lips are yellow. This reptile inhabits Western Australia. 

THE next family only contains one genus, which, like the preceding creature, inhabits 
Australia. In these reptiles the head is long and flattened, the pupil of the eye elliptical 
and upright, the scales are oval, smooth, and overlap each other, and the curious pores are 
present, each set in the front edge of a scale. BUKTON'S LIALIS (Lialis Burtoni} may be 
taken as an example of this family. The colour is olive above, with five imperfect 
brown streaks, and grey below, with large whitish spots. 

THE large and important family of the Skinks contains between forty and fifty genera, 
nearly each of which possesses one or more species, concerning which there is something 
worthy of notice. In these reptiles the head is rather squared than rounded, and covered 
regularly with horny shields. The body is mostly spindle-shaped, though sometimes of a 
cylindrical form, and very much elongated, in which case the legs are generally rudi- 
mentary, and sometimes altogether wanting externally. Our common blindworm is a 
familiar example of this structure. The tail suits the form of the body, being cylindrical 
in the long-bodied species, and tapering in those of a more spindle-like shape. 

The genus in which the COMMON, or OFFICINAL SKINK is placed, is now so restricted, 
that it only contains a single species ; but in the earlier times of zoological science, its 
rules were so greatly relaxed, that many species were admitted within its limits. 

In this genus the muzzle is wedge-shaped, the scales are thin and smooth, and the tail 
conical and pointed. The toes are rather flattened, and fringed on the side. The eyes are 
guarded by distinct eyelids, the lower of which is covered with scales. The palate is 
furnished with teeth, and has a longitudinal groove, and the ears are small, and toothed in 
front. There are four short and rather stout limbs, tolerably strong, and enabling the 
creature to make its escape from its enemies by rapidly sinking below the sandy soil on 
which it is usually found. 

The Skink is a native of Northern Africa, and is very common in some localities 

COMMON SKINK. Scincus officimilis. 

Specimens are said to have been found in some portions of Asia, and it seems to he clearly 
proved to inhabit Syria and several parts of India. 

It is a tolerably active little Lizard, not running fast or far, but contenting itself with 
hanging about the same locality, and feeling itself more secure on the sandy soil of its 
native districts, than if wandering at large on the plains. Indeed, unless it is alarmed, or 
except when it is aroused to short exertions by the presence of its prey, the Skink seldom 
troubles itself to hurry its pace beyond a slow crawl ; and not even when most startled, 
does it attempt to seek safety in flight. No sooner does it perceive the approach of danger, 
than it slips below the sand with such singular speed and adroitness, that those who 
have witnessed this performance, say that it seems rather to be gliding into some hole 
already excavated, than to be engaged in the labour of sinking a tunnel for the purpose 
of aiding its escape. Several travellers have seen the Slunk thus bury itself, and have 
all carried away the same opinion of its powers. 

If quietly approached, it may often be detected sleeping in the hot sunbeams, lying 
stretched at length upon the stones or rocks, and so far steeped in slumber, that it may be 
approached quite closely without taking alarm. 

The name of Officinal Skink has been given to this reptile on account of the high 
place which it formerly held among the medical profession, and the extreme value which 
it was thought to possess when dried, pounded, made up neatly into draughts or boluses, 
and used as a medicine. There is hardly a disease to which the human race is liable, 
which was not thought curable by the prepared body of this reptile, certainly not the least 
repulsive of all the disgusting substances which the early physicians delighted to 
choose from the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdom, to fill their multitudinous boxes 
and bottles, and to inflict upon their patients. Sometimes a physician would even evince 
his belief in the efficacy of his medicine by taking it himself, and would swallow, with full 
belief in its healing powers, the burnt liver of a hysena, the moss from a dead man's skull, 
the grated flesh of a mummy, or the remains of a pounded lizard, together with many 
other substances too revolting to mention. 


Did a warrior receive a wound from a poisoned arrow, or was a woodman bitten by a 
venomous snake, there was nothing so effectual for the cure as the dried flesh of the Skink, 
sometimes called El Adda, and sometimes known by the name of Dhab. He who provided 
himself with this all-powerful medicine was secure against fits of all kinds, which never 
attacked the system fortified by a dose of powdered Skink, or were speedily driven away if 
the sufferer had not previously partaken of this panacea. All skin diseases were cured by 
the Skink, and even the fearful elephantiasis yielded to its potent sway. 

Were the system too inexcitable and lethargic, and did the blood course too slowly 
through the veins, a little Skink powder would restore the natural powers to their full 
vigour. Or, on the contrary, if the patient happened to be feverish, restless, with a 
burning forehead, a parched skin, and a hurried pulse, a dose of the same useful medicine 
would cool the system, cure the headache, and bring the pulse to its normal state. It is 
an infallible remedy for worms, eradicates cancer, and removes cataract. In fine, a satis- 
factory estimate of its valuable properties may be gained by perusing, in the daily 
journals, any advertisement of any patent medicine, together with the list of maladies for 
which it is a certain remedy. 

Even in the present day, this medicine is in great vogue among the sages of the East. 
Should the reader happen to travel into eastern lands, and fall sick of a fever, be afflicted 
with a sunstroke, find himself suddenly smarting with a nettle-rash, catch a cold, or suffer 
from sand-blindness, the remedy which will, in all probability, be offered to him, will 
consist of this universal panacea. In the time of the ancients, the Skink was in much 
favour as a medicine, and was imported largely to Rome, ready prepared in white wine. 
The heads and feet were considered the most efficient portions of the animal, and 
were relied upon as infallible renovators of a constitution broken by age, or shattered 
by excess. 

Wherever modern civilization has most penetrated, the Skink has, happily for itself, 
fallen greatly in medical estimation, and in some places is entirely rejected from the 
pharmacopeia ; though there are not wanting some European physicians who assert that 
the creature really does possess some valuable properties, but that it has fallen into 
disrepute through the over-estimate which had been formed of its powers, and which 
naturally created a reaction in the opposite direction. 

In Southern Egypt it still commands the firm belief of the people, and is hunted down 
with the greatest zeal, as it not only can be applied to the personal ailings of the captors, 
but can be quickly dried in the burning sunbeams, and sent to Cairo and Alexandria, 
where it commands a ready sale. 

In its habits, this Skink much resembles the generality of terrestrial Lizards of its size 
and locality. As it seeks for safety below the sand, it is generally to be seen upon the 
hillocks of fine loose sand which are collected by the south wind, at the foot of any tree 
which may manage to survive in so ungenial a soil, or are blown against the hedges of 
the more cultivated land. It generally lies quietly upon the sand, but occasionally starts 
into vigorous action when it perceives an insect passing within easy reach, makes a 
sudden rush, captures its prey, and subsides again into its former inactive repose. Beetles 
are its favourite food, and of these insects it will eat a considerable quantity, but can 
preserve life for a lengthened period without taking any food at all. 

Should it be disturbed, it instantly sinks below the sand, with almost magical quick- 
ness ; and according to M. Lefebvre, who collected a great number of these Lizards in the 
year 1828, a few seconds suffice it for constructing and retiring into a burrow several feet 
in depth. Although armed with tolerably strong teeth and claws, it does not attempt to 
bite when captured, and any scratch inflicted on the hand of the captor is merely caused 
by its struggles while endeavouring to effect its escape. 

The general colour of the Officinal Skink is reddish dun, crossed with bands of a 
darker hue above. Below and upon both the flanks, it is of a silvery whiteness. It is, 
however, liable to considerable variations, of which the most important may be briefly 
denoted as follows : In one variety, the upper parts are yellow, or silver-grey, with seven or 
eight large brown spots on the sides. In another, the head is yellow, the upper parts are 
chestnut-brown, profusely sprinkled with little white spots, each scale having two, or even 

- *' 
, - 

BUG AD-HEADED PLB8TIODON. PltstiMloii laticen 

three, white dots upon the surface. The back is marked with a series of broad white bands, 
generally five or six in number, and having a black patch at either extremity of each 
band. In another variety, the upper parts are silvery grey, splashed with pure white, and 
variegated with irregular brown spots. But however great may be the variations, they are 
all confined to the upper surface, the abdomen, flanks, and under surface retaining their 
beautiful silvery whiteness. The banded variety is the most common. The Officinal 
Skink is by no means a large reptile, seldom exceeding eight inches in length, and being 
generally about six or seven inches long. 

PASSING by one or two genera of considerable extent, such as Hinulia and Mocoa, the 
members of which are mostly found in Australia, though there are species which inhabit 
China, Java, the Philippines and New Zealand, we come to a reptile very well known by 
the popular title of the SCOEPION LIZAED, and called more scientifically, as well as more 

In spite of the rather alarming name which the terrors of the ignorant have caused 
them to bestow upon it, the Scorpion Lizard is one of the most harmless, as well as one of 
the most useful little creatures that inhabit the earth. 

It is a native of Northern America, and is spread over a very large tract of country. 
This curious Lizard is one of the species that delights in trees, and of which we shall see 
more in a future page. It generally resides in some tree buried in the depths of the forest, 
and remains at a considerable elevation above the ground, never liking to make its home 
less than thirty or forty feet above the earth, and often placing itself at a much greater 

The domicile in which this reptile most delights is the deserted home of a woodpecker, 
which has brought up her little family, and forsaken the burrow which had taken such 
time and trouble to hollow from the decaying wood. Here the Scorpion Lizard takes up 
its residence, and here it remains snugly concealed unless it is alarmed by an enemy at 
the gate of its wooden fortress, when it runs nimbly to the entrance, and pokes out its red 
head with so threatening a gesture, that its intending assailant, thinking it must possess 


a store of poison to assume so resolute an aspect, retreats from the spot and leaves the 
reptile in quiet possession of its abode. 

Happily for the Lizard, the belief in its venomous propensities is widely diffused and 
deeply engrained in the popular mind, so that without having a single dangerous property 
except that of undaunted courage when driven to bay, it has established a reputation for 
ability to avenge itself when injured, which is of no less service to reptiles than men. Not 
that it is wholly destitute of offensive weapons, for its teeth are strong and sharp, its feet 
powerful, and its claws are sufficiently pointed to scratch rather deeply. 

The Scorpion Lizard is naturally a very timid and retiring creature, and on the 
approach of danger slips quietly out of the way, wisely preferring flight to combat. But if 
seized, the captor will have no small straggle before he can fairly secure his small but 
determined quarry, for the creature bites so fiercely with its sharp teeth, retains its hold 
with such bull-dog tenacity, and kicks and scratches with such hearty goodwill, that 
the non-zoological populace may well be excused for thinking it to be venomous in 
tooth as well as in temper. The bite, indeed, is so severe, and the creature has such power 
of jaw, that the wounds inflicted are always exceedingly painful for an hour or two, and 
might give rise to the idea that the teeth were poisonous like those of the rattlesnake. 

The Scorpion Lizard is seldom seen except upon trees, where it can mostly find 
a sufficiency of food among the insects that always haunt the branches of trees, and of 
drink in the dew-drops that collect at morning and evening. When, however, it needs a 
more abundant diet, it descends to the ground for a short visit, but after satisfying its 
wants, it returns to its tree, runs easily up the trunk, and again establishes itself in its 

The head of the Scorpion Lizard is very broad at the base, and narrows rather suddenly 
to the snout, which is slightly elongated. The upper part of the head is of a bright red 
colour. The body is olive-brown above, and the throat, abdomen, and whole of the under 
parts, are yellowish white. Just in front of the ear is a series of oblong tubercles, and the 
temples are smooth and covered with rather large shields. The feet are large in proportion 
to the size of the body, and the toes are rather compressed and exceedingly delicate, in 
fact almost thread-like in form. The length of the Scorpion Lizard is generally about 
eleven or twelve inches. 

THEKE is a closely allied species, also common in North America, popularly called the 
BLUE-TAIL and scientifically the FIVE-LINED PLESTIODON (Plestiodon quinquelinedtum}. 

Like the preceding species, the Blue-Tail inhabits the deepest forests, but is not one of 
the arboreal reptiles, being always found upon the earth, usually remaining within a short 
distance of its home, which is made in one of the numerous decaying tree-stumps which 
are found in these vast forests. Its food consists of insects, which it catches principally 
upon the ground. 

The head of this Lizard is red like that of the scorpion, but of a much paler quality. 
The body is olive, with five longitudinal white streaks, the central stripe being forked in 
front, and with two black bands. The tail is brownish, with a decided wash of blue during 
the life of the animal, a colouring which has earned for it the popular name of Blue-Tail. 
It is, however, subject to slight variations in the colour and shape of the markings. There 
are several little lobes in front of the ears. The length of the Blue-Tail is about eight or 
ten inches. 

A REPTILE which bears some resemblance to the scorpion Lizard is found in Jamaica 
and the West Indian islands, where it seems to take the place of that creature, and to 
enjoy a reputation almost as bad, with as little cause. The negroes call it by the name of 
MABOUYA (Mabouya dgilis), but as they apply that term to anything which is, or which 
they consider to be venomous, and as there are very many really poisonous creatures in 
those countries, and many more which are falsely thought to be so, the word is rather 
vague in its application. 

The Mabouya is a good climber, running up trees with perfect facility, and having a 
tendency to traverse the huts of the negroes, much to the consternation of the inmates. 



Its usual habitation, however, is made in the holes of old decaying trees, and except during 
the very hot weather, it mostly remains at home. There is another reptile, inhabiting the 
same country and to which the same title is applied, and which will be mentioned in a 
future page. 

The lower eyelid of the Mabouya is remarkable for a little transparent disc in the 
centre, the palate is without teeth, and the scales are smooth. Along the back run four 
black streaks, the two central stripes extending only to the middle of the body, while the 
two external lines are prolonged nearlv to the insertion of the hinder limbs. 

[!LI XPTVORM . A nfiuis frrisiiiix. 

THE great family of the Skiuks rinds a familiar representative in the common BLIND- 
WORM or SLOW-WOEM of England, which, from its snake-like form and extreme fragility, 
might well deserve the title of the English glass snake. In this reptile there is no external 
trace of limbs, the body being uniformly smooth as that of a serpent, and even more so 
than in some of the snakes, where the presence of the hinder pair of limbs is indicated by 
a couple of little hook-like appendages. Under the skin, however, the traces of limbs may 
be discovered, but the bones of the shoulders, the breast, and the pelvis are very small 
and quite rudimentary. 

This elegant little reptile is very common throughout England, and is spread over the 
greater part of Europe and portions of Asia, not, however, being found in the extreme 
north of Europe. In this country it is plentiful along hedgerows, heaths, forest lands, 
and similar situations, where it can find immediate shelter from its few enemies, and be 
abundantly supplied with food. It may often be seen crawling leisurely over a beaten 
footpath, and I have once captured it while crossing a wide turnpike road near Oxford. 

Why the name of the Blindworm should have been given to this creature I cannot 
even conjecture, for it has a pair of conspicuous though not very large eyes, which shine 
as brightly as those of any animal, and are capable of good service. Indeed, all animals 
which prey upon insects, and similar moving things, must of necessity possess well-deve- 
loped eyes, unless they are gifted with the means of attracting their prey within reach, as 
is the case with some well-known fishes, or chase it by the senses of hearing and touch, as 
is done by the mole. Moreover, the chief food of the Blindworm consists of slugs, 
which glide so noiselessly that the creature needs the use of its eyes to detect the soft 
mollusc as it slides over the ground on its slimy course. Speed is not needful for such a 
chase, and the Blindworm accordingly is slow and deliberate in all its movements except 


when very young, when it twists and wriggles about in a singular fashion as often as it is 

The great fragility of the Blindworm is well known. By a rather curious structure of 
the muscles and bones of the spine, the reptile is able to stiffen itself to such a degree, that 
on a slight pressure, or trifling blow, or even by the voluntary contraction of the body, the 
tail is snapped away from the body, and on account of its proportionate length, looks just 
as if the creature had been broken in half. The object of this curious property seems to 
be to insure the safety of the animal. The severed tail retains, or rather acquires, an 
extraordinary amount of irritability, and for several minutes after its amputation, leaps 
and twists about with such violence, that the attention of the foe is drawn to its singular 
vagaries, and the Blindworm itself creeps quietly away to some place of shelter. 

Even after the movements have ceased, they may be again excited by touching the tail 
with a stick, or even with the finger, when it will jump about with a vigour apparently 
undiminished. On frequently repeating the process, however, the movements become 
perceptibly less active, and after a while the only sign of movement will be a slight 
convulsive shiver. Half an hour is, as far as my own experience goes, the limit to which 
this irritability endures. 

I well remember meeting with an incident of this nature near Dover, where I came 
suddenly upon a reptile among the rank grass and underwood, that I at first took for a 
viper, and at which I aimed a thrust with a little twig of decaying wood, which broke at 
once. Immediately after the thrust, something began to hop and plunge about most 
violently just by my feet, and having a very wholesome dread of a viper's fangs, I jumped 
back a step or two, to the great indignation of a swarm of bees, which had settled them- 
selves in the ruins of an old wooden hut close to the spot. They at once intimated their 
displeasure in that wing-language so expressive to all bee-owners, so, hastily tossing the 
writhing object to a distance with the shattered remnant of the stick, I got away from 
the bees, and experimented for some time on the tail of the Blindworm, as it proved to 
be. Even the flight through the air, and the heavy fall, seemed to have little or no 
effect upon the irritability of the severed member, and when I reached it after its fall, I 
found it hopping about quite merrily. 

When the tail of the Blindworm is thus snapped off, the scales of the body project all 
round the fractured portion, forming a kind of hollow into which the broken end of the 
tail can be slipped. 

According to popular notions, the Blindworm is a terribly poisonous creature, and by 
many persons is thought to be even more venomous than the viper, whereas it is perfectly 
harmless, having neither the will nor the ability to bite, its temper being as quiet as its 
movements, and its teeth as innocuous as its jaws are weak. I fancy that the origin of 
this opinion may be found in the habit of constantly thrusting out its broad, black, flat 
tongue with its slightly forked tip ; for the popular mind considers the tongue to be the 
sting, imagining it to be both the source of the venom, and the weapon by which it is 
injected into the body, and so logically classes all creatures with forked tongues under the 
common denomination of poisonous animals. 

It is said that this reptile will bite when handled, but that its minute teeth and feeble 
jaws can make no impression upon the skin ; and also that when it has thus fastened on 
the hand of its captor, it will not release its hold unless its jaws be forced open. For my 
own part, and I have handled very many of these reptiles, I never knew them attempt to 
bite, or even to assume a threatening attitude. They will suddenly curl themselves up 
tightly, and snap off their tails, but to use their jaws in self-defence is an idea that seldom 
appears to occur to them. 

The pertinacity with which the notion of the Blindworm's venomous properties is 
implanted in the rustic mind is really absurd. During the summer of this year, I passed 
some little time in the New Forest, and having gone round to the farms in the neigh- 
bourhood, as distances of several miles are euphuistically called, begged to have all 
reptiles brought to me that were discovered during the haymaking. In consequence, the 
supply of vipers and snakes was very large, and on one occasion a labourer came to the 
house, bare-headed, his red face beaming with delight, and his manner evincing a proud 


consciousness of deserving valour. Between his hands he held his felt hat tightly 
crumpled together, and within the hat was discovered, after much careful manoeuvring, 
the head of a Blindworm emerging from one of its folds. 

As I put out my hand to remove the creature, the man fairly screamed with horror, 
and even when I took it in my hand, and allowed it to play its tongue over the fingers, 
he could not believe that it was not poisonous. No argument could persuade that worthy 
man that the reptile was harmless, and nothing could induce him to lay a finger upon it ; 
the prominent idea in his mind being evidently, not that the Blindworm had no poison, 
but that I was poison-proof. To add to his alarm, the creature had snapped off its tail 
during the rough handling to which it had been subjected, a proceeding which, by his 
peculiar process of reasoning, only corroborated its venomous properties. 

In its wild state the Blindworm feeds mostly on slugs, but will also eat worms and 
various insects. Some persons assert that it devours mice and reptiles, but that it should 
do so is a physical impossibility, owing to the very small dimensions of the mouth, and 
the structure of the jaw, the bones of which are firmly knitted together, and cannot 
be separated while the prey is being swallowed, as is the case with the snakes. 

In captivity it seems to reject almost any food except slugs, but these molluscs it will 
eat quite freely. The specimen from which the illustration was drawn, has been in my 
possession for about four months, and has proved a very interesting creature. After 
keeping it for a fortnight, I procured six or seven white garden slugs, and placed them 
in the glass vessel together with the Blindworm. 

The reptile instantly saw its prey, but did not move from its place, merely following 
with a slow movement of the head the course of one of the nlugs that crawled within an 
inch or two of its nose. Presently it raised its head very deliberately, and hovered over 
the slug as it glided along, and after following it for an inch or two, quickly opened its 
mouth to the full extent, lowered its head, and grasped the slug just behind the head, 
squeezing it with some force, and causing a great commotion among the muscles of the foot. 

Presently it relaxed its hold a little, again opened its mouth and took a fresh grasp, 
and after three or four of these movements, it contrived how I cannot comprehend, 
though I have watched the creature over and over again to get the head of the slug 
down its throat. The process of swallowing was then very easy, and after a few more 
efforts, the whole of the mollusc had disappeared. After resting for a few minutes, it 
attacked another slug precisely in the same manner ; but I have seldom seen it eat more 
than two or three at one meal. By degrees it caught and ate all the slugs, and will finish 
a dozen in a week or ten days. 

Upon the 12th of September my Blindworm unexpectedly became the mother of a 
numerous progeny, nine little Blindworms having made their appearance in the world 
during the night. They are remarkably pretty little creatures, and so unlike their parent 
that few persons would attribute them to the same species. They are much more 
serpentine in their general aspect, their heads being considerably wider than their necks, 
whereas in the adult the head and neck are as nearly as possible of the same width. 

Their colour is shining creamy yellow above, and jetty black below, the line of 
demarcation running along the flanks, and being very sharply defined. Along the back 
runs a narrow black line, which upon the head is expanded, and then divides so as to 
form a letter Y. Just above the nose is another forked black mark, looking like an 
inverted V, and both these letters have a, notable circular enlargement at the angle. As 
the creature grows, the V mark becomes gradually uncertain, and finally disappears, but 
the black line down the back, and its Y-like termination, retain their position through 
life, though they are not so conspicuous as in the young, owing to the darker colouring of 
the surface. 

How these little things feed I cannot make out. They were born on the 12th of 
September, as has already been mentioned, and though they have now lived for about five 
weeks, have grown considerably, and have always been very lively, they have taken no 
food so far as I can discover. For the first three weeks of their life, they lived in a glass 
jar closed at the top, and with an inch or so of dry earth at the bottom, in which there 
could be no nourishment. A little milk was poured on the mould now and then, a 


they perhaps may have licked the moistened earth, and so have obtained some little 
nourishment, though they were never seen to do so, and indeed appeared perfectly 
indifferent to the milk. 

When I introduced the slugs, the odd little reptiles acted just as their mother was 
doing, followed the slugs about with their heads, hovered over them, made believe to eat 
them, and then were quietly walked over by their intended prey, which being nearly 
twice as big as themselves, proceeded on its course without paying the least regard to 
the tiny reptiles, whose bodies were not larger than ordinary knitting needles, and easily 
glided over them, or put them to ignominious flight. 

After they had been in the jar for some time, I fitted up an old aquarium in a manner 
intended to imitate as far as possible their natural home, building a bank of earth and 
stones at either end, laying turf in the middle, and planting ferns upon the banks, with 
. moss round their roots. They enjoyed the change very greatly, immediately proceeded to 
burrow in all directions through the earth and among the stones, until they established a 
whole series of tunnels through which they can glide at will, and seem to take great 
pleasure in permeating their establishment at all hours, especially delighting in pushing 
their way through the moss and then retreating into their burrows. 

On a cold day they bury themselves below the mould, but the first gleam of sun- 
shine that plays among the green fern-leaves brings them from their recesses, and causes 
them to glide about the moss and turf most merrily. Sometimes, when they are coil;;d 
asleep within their home, their bodies are pressed against the glass, and it is curious to 
see how immovable they will lie in spite of tapping the glass, but how soon they wake 
up and brisk they become when the glass is warmed. Even a few warm breaths upon the 
glass suffice to awake them. 

I think that I have discovered another kind of subsistence for the young, but that has 
only been possible since they have been placed in the aquarium, or rather, the fernery, as 
it is now. Sundry very minute insects of the dipterous order may be seen flitting about 
within the glass, probably having been introduced with the turf and ferns, and it is possible 
that the young Blind worms may contrive to catch and eat these creatures, and derive some 
nutriment from them in spite of their diminutive size. 

When wild, the Blindworm generally retires to its winter quarters towards the end of 
August, or even sooner, should the weather be chilly. The localities which it chooses 
for this purpose are generally dry and warm spots, where the dried leaves and dead twigs 
of decayed branches have congregated into heaps, so as to afford it a safe refuge. Some- 
times it bores its way iuto masses of rotten wood; and on heathery soils, where the ground 
slopes considerably, it selects a spot where it will be well sheltered from the winter's rains 
and snows, and burrows deeply into the dry loose soil. 

It is singular to see the creature emerging from the ground when the least touch will 
soil the fingers, and to see how totally free from earth-stains is the bright glittering skin 
of the reptile, upon which not a particle of mud can cling. I once detected upon the head 
of my specimen a projection which I thought was a little lump of mud, I having just 
watered the ferns and turf, greatly to the discomfiture of the Blindworms, both old and 
young ; but upon close examination I found it was only a little pebble which had lodged 
upon the head, as the reptile came hastily out of its burrow to avoid the water. So quietly 
did the Blindworm move, that the stone retained its place upon the head for several 
minutes, and did not fall off until I startled the creature, and caused it to turn its head 
rather sharply. 

The Blindworm would be a most useful inhabitant of a garden, not at all repulsive, 
and, indeed, very seldom seen, its instinct teaching it to remain within some dark recess 
during the day, and only to come out at night when the slugs leave their earthy hiding- 
places, and commence feeding. Moreover, it is very prolific, and needs no special 
appliances, as is the case with the frog and toad, which require the presence of water to 
produce and hatch their young, and for the little reptiles to come to maturity. Sometimes 
the number of young is twelve or thirteen, and sometimes there are only seven or eight. 
The usual average is, however, nine or ten ; and they are very hardy little things, requiring 
no care whatever. 


Being one of the earliest to retire into its winter quarters, the Blind-worm is one of the 
first reptiles to leave them, appearing before either the snake or the viper. The reason for 
this early appearance is simple enough. Neither creature can venture into action when it 
can find no food, the active powers of the body causing a waste which must be restored 
with nutriment. The snake feeds upon frogs, and therefore cannot leave its winter's home 
until it finds the frogs ready for it. The frogs, again, which feed upon insects, must wait 
until the vegetation has attained sufficient luxuriance to afford food for their insect prey ; 
but the Blindworm, which finds its nourishment among the molluscs which devour the 
earliest leaves, is able to leave its winter quarters as soon as the vegetation begins fairly 
to sprout, and the slugs to devour it. 

Even during the winter, a warmer sunbeam than usual will tempt the Blindworm to 
come to the mouth of its burrow, poke out its head, and enjoy the temporary, but 
cheering warmth. My own specimens have not yet made any preparations towards 
retiring to winter quarters, though the usual time has passed away nearly two months 
ago, a circumstance which is probably due to the warmth of their home, and the occa- 
sional supply of slugs which I now and then put into the case. 

Like the snakes, the Blindworm casts its skin at regular intervals, seeming to effect 
its object in various modes, sometimes pulling it off in pieces, but usually stripping it 
away, like the snakes, by turning it inside out, just as an eel is skinned. Some persons, 
who have witnessed the process, state that this eversion is only extended to the base of 
the tail, and that the entire tail is drawn out of the skin like a hand out of a glove. 
Mr. G. Daniel mentions, that a Blindworm in his possession cast its skin in so many 
pieces, that the largest portion was only two inches in length. The process began by a 
split along the abdomen, and the head was the last part extricated from the rejected 
integument. This mode of shedding the skin was, however, owing, in all probability, to 
some weakness in the individual, or to the want of the usual aids, such as the stems of 
grass, heather, and other vegetation, against which the reptile contrives to rub itself, so as 
to assist its efforts in peeling off the cuticle. The colour of the Blindworm is rather 
variable. In my own specimen, now crawling over the paper on which I write, and 
blotting it sadly, the colour is dark olive-brown above, with a shining silvery lustre, and 
diversified with a narrow black line along the back, and a broader black line down each 
side. The flanks are greyish white, mottled with black, and the under parts are nearly 
black, variegated with a little grey. The Y-like mark on the head is still apparent, but 
there is no trace of the inverted V. On the sides of the head, the inottlings of grey and 
black are very bold, and round the neck runs a collar of black. This mark, however, may 
have been caused by the stupidity of the captor, who was so frightened at the contortions 
of the reptile, that he tied a string round its neck to form a safe handle with which to 
carry it. 

Mr. Bell, in his volume on the British reptiles, states that the tail is obtuse, and in 
the illustration gives it much too short an aspect, though he states that it rather varies in 
length, in some cases being not more than half the length of the body, while in others it 
nearly equals the head and body together. In my own specimen, the tail is by no means 
obtuse, but very slender and well pointed, and can be so tightly curled at its extremity as 
not to be removable without damage to the creature. While held in the hand, it generally 
twists the tip of the tail firmly round one of the fingers, not in a spiral position, but so 
as to make one complete circle, the extremity of the tail just touching the spot where the 
circle commences. The total length of this specimen now lying flat against a two-foot 
rule, towards which I have just succeeded in coaxing it by a judicious arrangement of 
light and shade, and an occasional touch with the finger, is thirteen inches and a half. 
The body and head occupy precisely six inches, and the remaining seven inches and a 
half are given to the tail. The spot where the body ends and the tail begins is very 
evident, the diameter of the body diminishing slightly but suddenly. 

THE family of the Skinks contains so many interesting creatures, that it is difficult 
to make a satisfactory selection, and impossible to avoid a feeling of regret at the 
necessity for passing so many species without even a cursory notice. Before, however, 
3. F 


proceeding to the next family, we must give a short notice of one or two rather 
conspicuous species. 

The first is the SPINE-BACKED LIZAED of New Guinea (Tribolonotus NOVCB Guinece), a 
very remarkable creature, notable for the singular formation of the scales which cover the 
l>ack, and in allusion to which the creature has been placed under the generic name 
Tribolonotus. This long word is of Greek origin, signifying calthrop-backed : calthrops 
being certain horrible instruments thrown on the ground to check the advance of cavalry, 
and consisting of four iron spikes, set round a ball in such a manner, that when flung on 
the ground, three points rest on the earth, and the other projects perpendicularly into 
the air. 

Though really harmless, the Spine-backed Lizard is a most formidable looking 
creature, the whole of the back being covered with long and sharply pointed spikes, 
formed by a modification of the scales, that project boldly in all directions, and fully 
justify the generic name. Even on the tail the scales, which are arranged in whorls, are 
long, pointed, and project over each other, so as to give a very formidable aspect to this 
member. Even the head is armed with these pointed scales, which become larger and 
larger as they approach the neck. The colour of this Lizard is brown above, and greyish 
white below. 

ANOTHER notable member of this family is the well-known GALLIWASP (Celestus 

This reptile is a native of the West Indian Islands, and is very common in Jamaica, 
where it is held in great, but groundless dread, by the inhabitants, and especially by the 
negroes. It generally haunts damp situations, and is mostly found in marshy lands, 
near water, or hidden under rocks where moisture is retained by the nature of the 
ground. It is thought that when the Galliwasp is irritated, its bite is as venomous 
as that of a poisonous snake, and causes immediate death. On account of the dread 
in which it is held, the negroes call it by the name of Mabouya, in common with the 
reptile which has already been described on page 60. 

The colour of the Galliwasp is brown of various tones, diversified with cross bands 
of blackish brown. It is about one foot in length. There are several species belonging 
to this genus, all being found in Jamaica. 

The last example of the Skinks which can be mentioned in these pages is SAGRA'S 

This reptile is a native of Cuba, and is found in localities where the air is cool, and 
the soil light and moist. It is an active little creature, and moves from place to place 
with much agility. In this reptile the tongue is rather large, covered with little scale- 
like papillae in front, becoming more thread-like behind. The colour is grey, with a 
bronzy lustre, and a black streak runs along each side. 

THE next family of Lizards contains only one species, the OPHIOMORE (Ophiomorus 
militiris), and is separated from the skinks and the sepsidse on account of a formation of 
the scales of the head, which seems to place it in an intermediate position between those 
two families. There are no external limbs, and the whole body and tail are long 
cylindrical, tapering, and serpentine in aspect. The colour of the Ophioinore is brown above, 
covered with numerous tiny black dots arranged in regular lines along the body, and being 
larger upon the sides. The under parts are white, and the sides are grey. It is a native 
of Northern Africa, and has been brought from Algiers. 

IN the SEPSIDSE, a family which contains seven genera, there are always external limbs, 
mostly four in number, .but in one genus, Scelotes, the front pair of legs are wanting, and 
the hinder pair are small and divided at the extremity into two toes only. 

The typical species of this family is the common SEPS, or CICIGNA, a curious snake-like 
Lizard, found in various parts of the world, and not uncommon in many portions of 
Europe. Specimens have been taken in the south of France, in Italy, Sardinia, Syria, and 
the north of Africa. The name of Seps is of Greek origin, and signifies corruption From 

SEPS, OR CIC1GNJL Seps triddciyltu. 

Ancient times to the present day, this harmless little reptile has been held in great dread 
by the natives of the country wherein it dwells, being considered as a deadly enemy to 
cattle, biting them at night during their sleep, and filling their veins with corruption. 
Horses, and especially mares, were thought to be the most frequent sufferers from the bite 
of this reptile. 

The legs of the Seps are very weak, and set far apart, so that the creature trusts but 
little to the limbs for its powers of locomotion, and wriggles itself along after the fashion 
of the snakes. The food of the Seps consists of worms, small snails, slugs, insects, spiders, 
and similar creatures, its general habits seeming to resemble those of the blindworm. 
Like the lizard, when the winter approaches, it burrows deeply in the loose soil, and 
remains hidden until the succeeding spring. 

The teeth of the Seps are small, conical, and simple, and there are no teeth on the 
palate, which is grooved longitudinally. The eyelids are scaly, and the lower has a 
transparent disc. The toes are three in number on each foot, and very feeble ; the tail is 
conical and pointed. The colour of the common Seps is grey, with four longitudinal brown 
streaks, which, on a closer inspection, are found to consist of a succession of brown dots. 

Two members of the Sepsidse deserve a passing notice before we pass to the next 
family. The first is the CAPISTEATED SPH^ENOPS (Sphcenops sepsoides). 

This reptile is a native of Northern Africa, but seems to have a rather restricted range, 
being seldom if ever found out of Egypt. In some parts of that country it is very plentiful, 
being found in the rice grounds, under hedges, and on the roads where the wheels of passing 
vehicles have worn deep ruts. Indeed, it appears to have a predilection for ridged ground, 
over which it passes with considerable speed, and is not to be captured without the exercise 
of some agility. It is quite harmless, and even when caught, struggles with all its might 
to escape, but does not attempt to bite the hand that holds it. Like many other 
reptiles of similar form, it burrows in the ground, but makes its tunnel so near the surface 
of the ground, and in so horizontal a direction, that the foot of a traveller will often lay 
open the superficial retreat and render its inmate homeless for a time. 

F 2 

ACONT1AS. Acontia* mtledgrii. 

The ancient Egyptians seem to have held this little reptile in religious veneration, as 
there are several known instances where it has been honoured with the ceremony of 
embalming, and placed in the sacred tombs, together wtth other creatures formerly 
reverenced as types of divinity. 

The Sphsenops has four legs, moderately well shaped, but rather weakly formed, and 
the feet are divided into four toes, each of which is furnished at the extremity with a claw. 
The head is wedge-shaped, rounded in front, the palate is without teeth, and the lower 
eyelid is transparent. The general colour of the Sphsenops is pale brown, with a longi- 
tudinal series of black dots, and a black streak on each side of the muzzle. 

OUR last example of this' family is the TTLIGUGU (Gongylus ocelldtus], or EYED TILIQUA. 
another of the numerous reptiles classed under the common title of Mabouya by the 
ignorant and fearful. 

It inhabits the countries bordering the Mediterranean, and is found in Sardinia, Malta, 
Egypt, and even in Teneriffe. Like the preceding species, it is quick and active in its 
movements, and when seized does not attempt to bite. It is a lover of dry and elevated 
spots, where the sand is loose, and there are plenty of stones under which it may hide 
itself. The food of this reptile consists of insects. Beside the names which have already 
been mentioned, it is also called LACEPEDE'S GALLIWASP and the OCELLATED SKINK. 

In colouring it is one of the most variable of reptiles, but the general tints are grey 
with a bronze gloss, diversified by a number of white spots edged with black. It has four 
legs, the toes are five on each foot, the head is conical, with a rounded muzzle, and the 
lower eyelid has a transparent disc. 

The ACONTIAD^E form the next family, which contains three genera. The head is 
small, the upper eyelid is either very small or altogether absent, the body is cylindrical, 
and the limbs, when present, are very weak and small. In two of the genera, Nessia and 
Evesia, there are four limbs, in the former with three toes, and in the latter with the feet 
small, imperfect, and not divided into toes. The upper eyelid is distinct though small. 


In the ACONTIAS or JAVELIN SNAKE the limbs are absent externally, and the upper 
eyelid is rudimentary. The body of this reptile is elongated and "cylindrical, not unlike 
that of the common blindworm of England. The name Acontias is derived from a Greek 
*vord signifying a javelin, and has been given to this creature on account of the shape of 
the head, which bears some resemblance to the point of a spear. Some writers think that 
the name is given in allusion to its quick movements when seizing its prey. As in shape, 
so in habits it resembles the blindworm, and like that reptile is very common in the fields 
and under hedges. It is a South African reptile, and is found abundantly at the Cape of 
Good Hope. 

In its colouring this is a very handsome little creature, being sometimes called the Painted 
Acontias (by the French writers La Peintade), in allusion to the variegated tints with which 
it is bedecked. Like many other reptiles, especially those which are lightly coloured, it 
is susceptible of much variation. Generally, however, it is rich chestnut-brown above, 
profusely dotted with bright yellow, the spots being arranged in series of varying number, 
one specimen having eight rows of spots, while another has only six. The scales are 
smooth, the teeth are conical and rather blunt, the eyes are very small, and the tail is short 
and rather rounded at the tip. 

ANOTHER curious family of reptiles possesses only two limbs at the most, the front 
pair being always, and the hinder pair sometimes, wanting. There is a curious cup-like 
shield on the chin, the body and tail are cylindrical, and both eyes and ears are apparently 
absent, but may be found hidden under the skin, where the greater part, if not the whole, 
of their functions must be in abeyance. In consequence of this remarkable privation they 
are classed together under the very appropriate name of Typhlinidse, a term derived from 
the Greek, and which signifies blindness. 

In the typical species, the TYPHLINE, or BLIND ACONTIAS (Typhline Cuvieri), as it 
is sometimes, but rather erroneously, called, the limbs are entirely absent, and the 
creature looks about as helpless a being as can well be imagined, having no apparent 
legs, feet, eyes nor ears. The Typhline inhabits Southern Africa, and is found at the 
Cape of Good Hope. In its colouring it is rather variable, being generally of a 
brownish hue with spots of purple upon the hinder part of the scales of the back, 
and sometimes of a yellowish tint with violet spots. 

THERE are so many reptiles scattered over the world, and they are divided by modern 
systematic zoologists into so many families, that it is only possible to give a short 
description of one or two examples of each family, while to supply illustrations would be 
wholly impracticable without nearly doubling the amount of space that can be allotted 
to them. 

The next family in the catalogue of the British Museum is called by the name of 
Typhlopsida?, or Blind Eeptiles, a title which has been given to them because their eyes 
are either very small or altogether wanting externally. In all these animals the head is 
broad, rather flattened, and has a large erect plate near the muzzle. The mouth is small, 
semilunar in shape, and placed under the muzzle in a manner somewhat resembling that 
of the sharks. The tail is cylindrical, and has a large shield or plate at the tip, sometimes 
conical and sometimes spine-shaped. 

In the TYPHLOPS, the typical species, the head is nearly covered by a single, very large 
shield, which is rather bent downwards in front. The tail is very short and tapers suddenly, 
and the scales of the body are small and uniform. It inhabits India, where it is not 
uncommon, though, in consequence of its earth-loving habits, it is not very often seen 
except by those who know its localities, and search purposely for the hidden reptile. It 
moves over the ground with some rapidity, and burrows easily, penetrating to a depth of 
three or four feet during the rainy season. At other times it is mostly content with the 
shelter of large stones and similar places of refuge. 

Owing to the small size and the rather remarkable position of the mouth, the Typhlops 
is unable to act on the offensive, and when captured, although it attempts to glide through 
the fingers, does not even offer to bite. It is wonderfully tenacious of life, and according 


to Dr. Eussell, will live for some time even when immersed in spirits of wine. The 
general colour of the Typhlops is yellowish white. 

This family contains also the Clawed-snake (Ontfchophis) so called because the bony 
shield on the muzzle is erect, keeled, and bent over into a claw-like shape and the Silver 
Snakes (Argyrophis), a small group of reptiles, deriving their popular name from the silvery 
lustre of their scales. 

THE last family of the sub-order LeptoglossaB, or Slender-tongued Lizards, is the group 
of reptiles termed the Eough-tailed Lizards, or UEOPELTID^E. In these Lizards the head is 
rather compressed, flat above and sharp towards the muzzle. The eyes are of moderate 
size, and without eyelids, a bony scale answering the purpose. The body is cylindrical 
and covered with regular six-sided scales, sometimes ridged, but mostly smooth. The tail 
is also cylindrical, and abruptly terminated, as if cut off obliquely. There are no external 
limbs, and by most systematic naturalists the Rough-tails have been placed among the 
serpents, which they very closely resemble, except in the arrangement of certain scales, 
and the short, abruptly truncated tail. 

According the elaborate catalogue of the British Museum, the Eough-tailed Lizards are 
divided into three genera, separated from each other by the formation of the scales that 
cover the tail. While moving, the Eough-tails aid themselves by pressing the truncated 
tail against the ground. As a typical species, we may select the PHILIPPINE SHIELD-TAIL 
(Uropeltis Philippinus), a reptile which, as its name imports, inhabits the Philippine 
Islands. In this creature the tail is rather flattened, and covered above with a curious 
" flat, roundish, radiating, granular shield." On the lower side of the tail the scales are 
arranged in six rows. The colour of the Philippine Shield-tail is brown above and white 
beneath, the line of demarcation being very distinct, and regularly waved. 

A NEW sub-order now comes before our notice, the members of which are distinguished 
by the formation of their tongues, which, instead of being flat and comparatively slender, 
as in the preceding Lizards, are thick, convex, and have a slight nick at the end. On 
account of this structure, the species of this sub-order are termed PACHYGLOSS^E, or Thick- 
tongued Lizards. 

These reptiles are divided into sundry groups, the first of which is termed the 
NYCTISAUEA, or Nocturnal Lizards. These creatures have eyes formed for seeing in the 
dusk, circular eyelids which, however, cannot meet over the eye-ball, and in almost every 
case the pupil is a long narrow slit like that of the cat. The body is always flattened. 
The limbs are four in number, tolerably powerful, and are used in progression. 

Of these Lizards, the first family is the GECKOTID^E, or Geckos, a very curious group 
>f reptiles, common in many hot countries, and looked upon with dread or adoration by the 
natives, sometimes with both, where the genius of the nation leads them to reverence the 
object of their fears, and to form no other conception of supreme power than the capability 
of doing harm. 

The FAN-FOOT, or HOUSE GECKO, is a native of Northern Africa, and is very common 
in Egypt, and is found, as its name imports, in houses, traversing the floor and walls with 
astonishing address, in search of its food, which consists of worms, insects, and similar 
creatures. The natives have a very great dread of this creature, asserting that it is 
extremely poisonous the poison not being injected by the teeth, but exuding from the 
lobules of the toes. The generic title Ptyodactylus, or Toe-spitter, is given to the reptile 
in allusion to this idea. It is said by Hasselquist, that if a Gecko is taken in the hand, the 
poisonous matter which is immediately shed over the skin from the feet of the captive, 
causes an instantaneous eruption, similar to that produced by the sting of a nettle. The 
same traveller proceeds to relate an incident which is hardly so much in accordance with 

COMMON GECKO. Gecko wrw. 

FAX-FOOT.Ptyoddctylus ueoko. 

probability, namely, that two women and a girl were lying at the point of death from 
having eaten some cheese over which one of these reptiles had walked. 

So great is the dread inspired by this creature, that in Cairo it is popularly termed 
Abou-burs, or father of the leprosy. The people fancy that it purposely poisons their 
provisions, and that it is especially fond of communicating the venom to salted meat of all 
kinds. In former times the Fan-foot was endowed with even greater powers of offence, its 
teeth being added to its weapons, and asserted to be capable of leaving their impression 
even on steel, though in point of fact, the jaws of the Geckos are rather feeble, and their 
teeth very small, and hardly able to pierce even the human skin. 

The Geckos are indebted for their power of traversing perpendicular walls to the 
formation of their feet, which, although greatly varied in the different genera, have the 
same essential qualities in all. In this genus the toes are expanded at their extremities, 
into a round disc, and furnished with claws which are sheathed in a notch cut in the front 
of the disc. The colour of the Fan-foot is reddish brown spotted with white. 

THE COMMON GECKO, or RINGED GECKO, is an Asiatic species, being as common iu 
India as the preceding species in North Africa. It may be easily known from thu 
fan-foot by the large tubercles upon the back. 

This reptile has much the same habits as the fan-foot, and possesses equally the 
ability to run over a perpendicular wall. During the day-time it conceals itself in some 
chink or dark crevice, but in the evening it leaves its retreat, moving rapidly and with 
such perfectly silent tread that the ignorant natives may well be excused for classing 
it among supernatural beings. The Gecko occasionally utters a curious cry, which h:i. 


been compared to that peculiar clucking sound employed by riders to stimulate their 
horses, and in some species the cry is very distinct and said to resemble the word Geck-o, 
the last syllable being given smartly and sharply. On account of this cry, the Geckos 
are variously called Spitters, Postilions, and Claqueurs. 

During the cold months of the year the Geckos retire to winter quarters, and are 
thought to retain their condition during this foodless season by means of two fatty masses 
at the base of the abdomen, which are supposed to nourish them as the camel is nourished 
by the hump. The male is smaller than the female, and the eggs are very spherical, and 
covered with a brittle chalky shell. The colour of the Gecko is reddish grey with white 
spots. The scales of the back are flat and smooth, and there is also a series of rather 
large tubercular projections arranged in twelve rather distinct rows. 

CLOSELY allied to these two reptiles is the SPOTTED GECKO, or SPOTTED HEMIDACTYLE, 
a rather pretty species of Gecko found in various parts of Asia, and tolerably common in 
India, China, and Ceylon. Sir Emerson Tennent, in his valuable work on Ceylon, gives 
a very interesting account of this little creature, and relates two curious anecdotes, 
exhibiting the readiness with which even a Gecko can be tamed by kind treatment. 

" In a boudoir where the ladies of my family spent their evenings, one of these 
familiar and amusing little creatures had its hiding place behind a gilt picture-frame, and 
punctually as the candles were lighted, it made its appearance on the wall to be fed with 
its accustomed crumb ; and if neglected, it reiterated its sharp quick call of chic-chic-chit, 
till attended to. It was of a delicate grey colour, tinged with pink, and having by 
accident fallen on a work-table, it fled, leaving its tail behind it, which, however, it 
reproduced within less than a month. This faculty of reproduction is doubtless designed 
to enable the creature to escape from its assailants ; the detaching of the limb is evidently 
its own act. 

In an officer's quarters in the fort of Colombo, a Gecko had been taught to come daily 
to the dinner-table, and always made its appearance along with the dessert. The family 
were absent for some months, during which the house underwent extensive repairs, the roof 
having been raised, the walls stuccoed, and ceilings whitened. It was naturally surmised 
that so long a suspension of its accustomed habits would have led to the disappearance 
of the little Lizard, but on the return of its old friends, at their first dinner it made 
its entrance as ^^sual the instant the cloth had been removed." 

ANOTHER rather curious species is the TURNIP-TAILED GECKO (Thecaddctylus rapi* 
caudus), so called from the odd shape of its tail, which, when reproduced, is very 
much swollen at the base, and, with its little conical extremity, has an almost absurd 
resemblance to a young turnip. It is worthy of mention, that all the Geckos possess the 
faculty of reproducing their tails when those members have been lost by some accident, 
and that the second tail is mostly very unlike the original. Before the creature has 
suffered (if it does suffer) this mutilation, the tail is covered with scales of the same 
structure and form as those of the back ; but when the tail is reproduced, it is generally 
supplied with little squared scales arranged in cross series. In examining a Gecko 
therefore, it is necessary to ascertain whether the tail be in its normal condition or only 
a second and altered edition of that member. 

The colour of the Turnip- tailed Gecko is brown, mottled boldly with a darker tint, 
and speckled with tiny dots of dark brown. The scales of the back are six-sided, and on 
each side of the base of the tail there is a prominent conical tubercle. This species 
inhabits Tropical America. 

THE very remarkable reptile which is figured in the accompanying illustration, is a 
native of Java. 

The FRINGED TREE GECKO, or SMOOTH-HEADED GECKO, is especially worthy of notice 
on account of the broad membranous expansions which fringe the sides of the head, 
back, limbs, and tail. On the body this membrane is covered with scales, and waved on 
its edges, but on the tail the waves become suddenly deepened, so as to form bold 

FRINGED TREE GECKO. Ptychottim. liomaloctphc\a 

scollops. The toes are webbed to the tips, and, with the exception of the thumb-joint, 
are furnished with claws at the swollen extremity. The scales of the back are smooth 
and flat, and even the membranous fringes are covered with scales. 

Formerly this creature was thought to be aquatic in its habits, but it is now known to 
live on trees, and to employ the membranous expansions in aiding it in its passage from 
branch to branch, much after the well-known fashion of the flying squirrels. The generic 
title, Ptychozoon, is composed of two Greek words, the former signifying a fold of a 
garment, and the latter a living being. The general colour of the Fringed Tree Gecko 
is brown above, with a slight yellowish tinge along the spine, and crossed with small 
dark brown lines, very narrow and deeply waved. A line of similar appearance and of 
a bold zig-zag form encircles the top of the head, looking as if a dark brown string had 
been tied at the ends, formed into a rude circle and then pinched at intervals so as to 
cause deep indentations. Below it is of a whitish grey colour. 

THE curious and rather interesting little Lizard called the CAPE TARENTOLA, is an 
inhabitant, as its name signifies, of the Cape of Good Hope, and is found spread over a 
considerable portion of Southern Africa. 

This reptile is of slower habits than the generality of the Geckos, and moves along 
with deliberate and apparently purposeless steps. It is almost invariably seen upon or 
near decayed wood, and is frequently found under the bark of dead trees, clinging tightly 
to the trunk, and shielded by the bark from the unwelcome glare of daylight. In all 
probability, it finds abundance of food in the same locality, for the space between the 
bark and wood of a decaying or dead tree, is generally filled with insects of various kinds 
and in their different states of existence, beside being the chosen home of millipedes, 
spiders, and similar creatures. 

Although a slow mover, the Cape Tarentola can, after the manner of its kin, ascend 
smooth and perpendicular objects with perfect ease and noiseless motions, and can even 
traverse and cling to a ceiling or a cross-beam without difficulty, and there remain 
motionless for hours. like the generality of the Gecko family, it detests the daylight. 



and the bright beams of the sun are a torture to this dweller in darkness, which, if over- 
taken by daylight while out of its refuge, crawls away to the nearest cranny and there 
buries itself "until the evening hours bring with them the desired shades, and restore the 
animal to its wonted activity. It is extremely shy, and even in the dusk it will avoid the 
dangerous approach of an intruder by silently slipping under the cover of the loose bark, 

or hiding itself among the decay- 
ing wood. 

It is quite a little creature, 
rarely measuring more than four 
inches in length, and often not 
reaching even those moderate di- 
mensions. As is the case with 
many Lizards, it is liable to cer- 
tain variations in colouring, but 
its general tints are as follows : 
The back and upper portions of 
the body are yellowish brown 
with a decided yellow wash, and 
banded with several dark brown 
bars, rather curved. Scattered 
over the body are certain pro- 
tuberant scales of a lighter hue. 
The tail is a pale brownish purple 
with a reddish gloss, and speckled 
with warm chestnut-brown. The 
abdomen, and the under portions 
of the body and limbs are ochry 
yellow and the eyes are, although 
devoid of expression and of a 
passionless brightness like po- 
lished stone, very shining and 
of a bright orange-brown. The 
whole form of this Lizard is rather 
thick and clumsy. 

As this family contains at least 
forty genera, it is manifestly im- 
possible to mention more than a 
few species, which can be accepted 
as types of the family, and serve 
as links to render the chain of 
nature complete. Passing, there- 
fore, several series of genera., we 
will give a short time to one or 
two species of Gecko before pro- 
ceeding to the next family. 

The WOODSLAVE, as the reptile is popularly termed by the natives of the country 
where it resides, or the BANDED SPH^EODACTYLE (Sphceroddctylus sputdtor), as it is more 
scientifically called by British zoologists, is a small species of Gecko found in most of the 
American islands, and is spread over many portions of South America ; and is held in 
great dread by the white and dark population. It is generally supposed to possess a store 
of venomous saliva, causing the part of the body on which it falls to swell grievously, 
and to eject this poisonous substance from some distance upon those who chance to vex 
its irascible temper. The specific term sputator signifies a spitter, and has been given to 
the reptile on account of this supposed propensity. The poisonous saliva is said to 
be black. 



The Woodslave has no claws on its toes, the pupil of the eye is round, and the eyelid 
circular. The back and tail are covered with small scales. The colour is generally black 
and yellow, arranged in cross bands, and there is a white streak on each side of the head. 
There are several species belonging to this genus, all inhabiting similar localities. 

THE reader will remember that in the turnip-tailed Gecko, mentioned on page 72, the 
tail is curiously swollen at the base after its reproduction. In the LEAF-TAILED GECKO, 
otherwise called WHITE'S PHYLLURE, (Phylltirus plat'forus), the tail is always rather long, 
flattened considerably, very broad, with a deep notch at its junction with the body, and 
a shallower double notch in the centre. Along the middle there also runs a shallow 
groove, and the entire aspect is so quaint, not to say ludicrous, that on seeing a specimen 
of this odd-looking Lizard, the first impression on the mind is that the tail has been 
cleverly manufactured and attached to the body by artificial means. This Gecko is a 
native of New Holland. 

Both the scientific names of the Leaf-tailed Gecko refer to the singular formation of 
its tail, the one signifying Leaf-tail, and the other Broad-tail. The head of this reptile is 
very broad at the base, very sharp at the snout, and the skin adheres so closely to the 
bone as to exhibit the form of the skull through its substance. The toes are long, 
slender, and rather compressed. Along the sides runs a fold of skin, very slight, but 
sufficiently conspicuous. The tail is very thin and leaf-like ; along the edge runs a series 
of spiny scales, and its surface is covered with rather long conical tubercles arranged in 
cross rows. The colour is brown, and a number of little spiny tubercles are scattered 
over the back. 

In taking leave of the Geckos, we must cast a hasty glance at their feet. In many of 
their movements the Geckos bear a curious likeness to the common fly, and when one 
of these reptiles is seen gliding along a perpendicular wall with noiseless step, or clinging 
with perfect ease to an overhanging beam, quite regardless of the fact that it is hanging 
with its back downwards, the resemblance is irresistible. And on inspecting the foot 
and its structure, the resemblance which this member bears in many species to the well- 
known foot of the fly, is remarkably close and worthy of attention. 

WE now arrive at an important tribe of Lizards, called by the name of Strobilosaura, 
a title derived from two Greek words, one signifying a fir-cone and the other a lizard, and 
given to these creatures because the scales that cover their tails are set in regular whorls, 
and bear some resemblance to the projecting scales of the fir-cone. In all these reptiles 
the tongue is thick, short, and very slightly nicked at the tip. The eyes have circular 
pupils, and are formed for -day use. 

THE first family of these Lizards consists of those creatures which are grouped 
together under the general title of IGUANA. This word is employed extremely loosely, 
as the name of Iguana is applied to many species of Lizards, such as the monitors and 
the varans, which in reality have little in common with the true Iguanas. These reptiles 
can mostly be distinguished from the rest of their tribe by the formation of their teeth, 
which are round at the roots, swollen and rather compressed at the tip, and notched on 
the edge. There are generally some teeth on the palate. All the true Iguanas inhabit 
the New World. As the family of Iguanas is extremely large, and contains more than 
fifty genera, we can only examine a few of the most interesting species, the first of which 

This conspicuous, and in spite of its rather repulsive shape, really handsome Lizard, 
is a native of Brazil, Cayenne, the Bahamas, and neighbouring localities, and was at 
one time very common in Jamaica, from which, however, it seems to be in process of 
gradual extirpation. 


In common with those members of the family which have their body rather com- 
pressed, and covered with squared scales, the Iguana is a percher on trees, living almost 
wholly among the branches, to which it clings with its powerful feet, and on which it 
finds the greater part of its food. It is almost always to be found on the trees that 
are in the vicinity of water, and especially favours those that grow upon the banks 
of a river, where the branches overhang the stream. 

Though not one of the aquatic Lizards, the Iguana is quite at home in the water, and 
if alarmed, will often plunge into the stream, and either dive or swim rapidly away. 
While swimming, it lays its fore legs against the sides, so as to afford the smallest 
possible resistance to the water, stretches out the hinder legs, and by a rapid serpentine 
movement of its long and flexible tail, passes swiftly through the waves. It has 
considerable power of enduring immersion, as indeed is the case with nearly all reptiles, 
aud has been known to remain under water for an entire hour, and at the end of that 
time to emerge in perfect vigour. 

From the aspect of this long-tailed, dewlapped, scaly, spiny Lizard, most persons 
would rather recoil than feel attracted, and the idea of eating the flesh of so repulsive 
a creature would not be likely to occur to them. Yet in truth, the flesh of the Iguana is 
justly reckoned among one of the delicacies of the country where it resides, being tender, 
and of a peculiarly delicate flavour, not unlike the breast of a spring chicken. There are 
various modes of cooking the Iguana, roasting and boiling being the most common. 
Making it into a fricassee, however, is the mode which has met the largest general 
approval, and a dish of Iguana cutlets, when properly dressed, takes a very high place 
among the delicacies of a well-spread table. 

The eggs too, of which the female Iguana lays from four to six dozen, are very well 
flavoured and in high repute. It is rather curious that they contain very little albumen, 
the yellow filling almost the entire shell. As is the case with the eggs of the turtle, they 
never harden by boiling, and only assume a little thicker consistence. Some persons of 
peculiar constitutions cannot eat either the flesh or the eggs of the Iguana, and it is said 
that this diet is very injurious to some diseases. The eggs are hid by the female Iguana 
in sandy soil near rivers, lakes, or the sea-coast, and after covering them with sand, she 
leaves them to be hatched by the heat of the sun. 

In consequence of the excellence of the flesh and eggs, the Iguana is greatly 
persecuted by mankind, and its numbers considerably thinned. Those who hunt the 
animal for sport or merely to supply their own homes, generally employ a noose for the 
purpose, which they cast dexterously round the neck of the reptile as it sits on a branch, 
and then by a sudden and sharp jerk loosen its hold, and secure it. The creature is 
very bold, having but little idea of running away, and in general is so confident of its 
capability of frightening away its antagonist by puffing up its long dewlap, and looking 
ferocious, that it is captured before it discovers its mistake. Even when caught, it has no 
notion of yielding without a struggle, but bites so fiercely with its sharp leaf-like teeth, 
and lashes so vigorously with its long whip-like tail, that it is not secured without some 
trouble and risk It is also very tenacious of life, and does not readily die even from 
repeated blows with heavy sticks, so that the spear or the pistol are often employed to 
kill it. 

Those, however, who hunt the Iguana for sale, are obliged to have recourse to other 
expedients, such as nets, and dogs, the latter being trained to secure the Iguana without 
killing it. Many persons set out on regular expeditions of tnis sort, embarking in a 
little vessel and. visiting numbers of different islands and inlets in chase of the Iguana. 
Those which they can succeed in taking alive, have their mouths carefully secured to 
prevent them from biting, and are then stowed away in the hold, where they will live for 
a considerable time without requiring any nourishment. Those which are killed, they 
either eat on the spot, or salt them down in barrels for winter consumption. Were the 
Iguanas quick of foot, they would seldom be captured, but, fortunately for the hunters, 
they cannot run fast, and according to the quaint lai.guage of Catesby, who visited the 
Bahamas about 1 740, " their holes are a greater security to them than their heels." 

The food of the Iguana seems to consist almost entirely of fruits, fungi, and other 

IGUANA. Iguana tuberculdta. 

NAKED-Js'ECgED IGUANA. Iguana deJlcatiMima. 

vegetable substances, and it is known that in captivity it feeds upon various leaves and 
flowers. Yet it has been said by some persons who have seen the Iguana in its native 
state, that it eats eggs, insects, and various animal substances. Perhaps these creatures 
were not the true Iguanas, but belonged to the monitors, varans, or similar carnivorous 


The Iguana is capable of domestication, and can be tamed without much difficulty by 
those who are kind to it and accustom it to their presence. It will even permit itself to 
be carried about in its owner's arms, though it will not permit a stranger to approach. 

The general aspect of the Iguana is most remarkable, and can perhaps be better under- 
stood by reference to the illustration than by any lengthened description. Suffice it to say 
that the head is rather large, and covered above with large scales. The mouth is enor- 
mously \vide, and studded around the edge with those singularly shaped teeth which have 
already been described. About the angles of the jaw there are generally some large, 
solitary, rounded scales. The chin is furnished with a kind of dewlap, large, baggy, and 
capable of being ^nflated at the will of the animal, scaly, and edged in front with a TOW of 
bold, tooth-like projections. The sides of the neck are covered with tubercles. The tail 
is extremely long, and very thin and tapering. The usual colour of the Iguana is dark 
olive-green, but is rather variable even in the same individual, being affected by change of 
weather, or locality, or temper. On the sides a few brown bands are generally seen, and 
the tail is marked with brown and green of various tones, the two colours being arranged 
in alternate rings. The average length of the Iguana is about four feet, but it often 
attains a much greater size, reaching a length of six feet or a little more. 

The NAKED-NECKED IGUANA was long confounded with the preceding species, bearing 
a great resemblance to that reptile in colour, form, and habit, and being found in the same 
localities. It can, however, be readily distinguished from the common Iguana by the 
absence of tubercles upon the sides of the neck. Along each side of the lower jaw runs a 
series of large strong scales. The general colour of this species is bluish green, darker on 
the back than on the abdomen. Its flesh is esteemed equally with that of the preceding 

BESIDES these Iguanas, there are one or two which deseiTe a short notice, although our 
limited space does not permit of a lengthened description. One of these animals is the 
MAKBLED IGUANA or CAMALEAO (Pblychrus marmordtus), also a native of Brazil and 
Central America. This species has the throat compressed into a small dewlap, and the 
scales of the back and sides equal. There is no crest upon the back and tail. Its colour 
is brown, mottled with bold marblings and diverging lines of a darker hue, and sometimes 
having a slight purple gloss. 

The APLONOTE (Alopon6tus Ricardi) is another species of Iguana, having its head 
covered with small equal many-sided plates, and its throat dilated into a small pouch 
without the toothed projections in front. A shallow crest runs along the back and tail, 
and the back is without scales, but covered with multitudinous granular tubercles of a 
very small size. The tail is compressed. The colour of this species is blackish brown, 
variegated with many spots of tawny brown. 

Another curious species is appropriately called the HOENED IGUANA (Metopoceros 
corntitus}, deriving its name from the horn-like projections upon its head. Upon the fore- 
head there is a large horn-like tubercle, and two pairs of large horny plates between the 
nostrils. There is a crest upon the back, but it is veiy low between the shoulders, and 
upon the loins it is not continuous. It inhabits St. Domingo. 

IT has already been mentioned that the Iguana possesses the power of swimming to a 
large extent, and that it is capable of sustaining a long submersion without suffering any 

There is a curious species of Iguana, the MAEINE OEEOCEPHALE, which exists upon the 
seashore, and passes a considerable portion of its time in the water. This creature was 
first made known to science by Mr. Darwin, who found it on the coasts of the Galapagos 
islands, and describes its habits in the following words : 

" It is a hideous-looking creature, of a dirty black colour, stupid and sluggish in its 
movements. The usual length o-f a full-grown one is about a yard, but there are some 
even four feet long. I have seen a large one which weighed twenty pounds. These 
lizards are occasionally seen some hundred yards from the shore swimming about, and 

MARINE OREOOEPHALE. Oreocephalus cristdtui 

Captain Collnett in his voyage says that they go out to sea in shoals to catch fish. With 
respect to the object I believe he is mistaken, but the facts stated on such good authority 
cannot be doubted. 

"When in the water, the animal swims with perfect ease and quickness by a serpentine 
movement of its body and flattened tail, the legs during this time being perfectly motion- 
less and closely collapsed on its sides. A seaman on board sunk one with a heavy weight 
attached to it, thinking thus to kill it directly, but when, an hour afterwards, he drew up 
the line, the lizard was quite active. Their limbs and strong claws are admirably adapted 
for crawling over the rugged and fissured masses of lava which everywhere form the 
coast. In such situations, a group of six or seven of these hideous reptiles may often- 
times be seen on the black rocks, a few feet above the surf, basking in the sun with 
outstretched legs." 

In this reptile the throat is not formed into a pendent pouch, but the skin is much 
crumpled, so that the animal can dilate it at will. The whole body is covered with sharp, 
rough, tubercular scales, and a crest of longer scales runs along the back. The teeth are 
sharp and three-lobed, and although, when the wide mouth is opened, they present a very 
formidable array of weapons, the creature is quite harmless, and feeds on vegetable diet, 
seaweeds forming the chief part of its subsistence. The middle toes are united by a strong 
web, and the claws are large. There is some difference in the aspect of the young and 
adult, this distinction being most obvious in the head, where the scales are rather convex 
in the young, but in the adult are enlarged into unequal and rather high tubercular 

BAS1LISC. Basiliscut Americ&nu* 

IN the earlier ages of science, when a few facts were struggling their way through the 
superincumbent mass of fiction that had so long caused Natural History to be little more 
than a collection of moral fables, the BASILISC was a creature upon whose wondrous 
properties the inventive pens of successive narrators were never tired of dilating. Crowned 
with a royal diadem, emblematical of its sovereign rule, the Basilisc held supreme sway over 
the reptile race, and derives its name of Basilisc, or kinglike, " because he seemeth to be 
the King of Serpents, not for his magnitude or greatnesse. For there are many serpents 
bigger than he, as there be many four-footed beasts bigger than the lyon, but because of 
his stately face and magnanimous minde." 

The Basilisc was thought to be an occasional lusus naturae, having during his life no 
companion of his own kind, and to derive his existence from an egg laid by a cock when 
he was very old, and sat upon by a snake. Some scientific writers, however, better 
informed than the more popular zoologists, said that the egg was not incubated by 
a snake, but by a toad. 

Before the Basilisc all living creatures but one were forced to fly, and even man would 
fail dead from the glance of the kingly reptile's eye. "This poyson," says Topsel, 
" infecteth the air, and the air so infected killeth all living things, and likewise all green 
things, fruits and plants of the earth : it burneth up the grasse whereupon it goeth or 
creepeth, and the fowls of the air fall down dead when they come near his den or lodging. 
Sometimes he biteth a man or beast, and by that wound the blood turneth into choler, and 
so the whole body becometh yellow or gold, presently killing all that touch it or come 
near it." Even a horseman who had taken into his hand a spear which had been thrust 
through a Basilisc, " did not only draw the poyson of it into his own body and so dyed, 
but also killed his horse thereby." 

The only creature that could stand before the Basilisc and live, was said to be the 
cock, whose shrill clarion the bird-reptile held in such terror, that on hearing the sound, it 
fled into the depths of the desert and there concealed itself. Travellers, therefore, who 
were forced to pass through the sandy deserts of Libya, were advised always to carry with 
them a supply of strong lively loud-voiced cocks, by whose vigorous crow'ugs they would 
be protected from the Basiliscs haunting those parts. 



There is an old proverb, " No smoke without fire," and. this saying is verified in the 
present case. In some parts of Tropical America there is a perfectly harmless Lizard of no 
great dimensions, belonging to the family of the Iguanas, and having a bold crest on the 
back of its head. It is probable that one of these reptiles was imported into the Old 
World at some time now forgotten, and that its rather odd shape and the crest on its head 
were seized upon by the first describers, and reported with continually increasing exagge- 
rations by succeeding writers. 

Like the rest of the Iguanas, this animal is a good climber of trees, it can swim well, 
and its food consists apparently of insects and the various little creatures which frequent 
the water and the foliage of its banks. 

Although quite innocuous, it certainly is rather forbidding, and when it obtains its 
greatest length of three feet, presents a sufficiently formidable appearance to warrant in 
some degree the wild and fabulous tales which were deduced from its strange shape. 
Along the back, instead of the row of pointed spines which generally cross the back of the 
Iguanas, runs a broad crest-like membrane, another broad membrane occupying the upper 
surface of the tail. These curious appendages are supported by a series of slender bones, 
formed by elongations of the vertebrae of the back and tail, so that the animal looks 
exactly as if the fins of a fish had been grafted on the body of a reptile. There is a slight 
pouch on the throat, and the palate is toothed. 


MANY species of the Lizard tribe are called by the name of Anolis, but are divided by 
systematic zoologists of the present day into several distinct genera. The CHESTED 
ANOLIS inhabits some of the hotter portions of America and the neighbouring islands. 

The chief point of interest in this Lizard is the curiously expansile throat, which, in 
common with others of the same genus, it is able to expand at will. When terrified, it 
tries to escape, but if it finds itself deprived of all means of eluding its antagonist, it turns 
to bay, and by puffing out the throat until it assumes a very great size, endeavours 
thereby to intimidate the foe. While thus engaged, the creature has the faculty of 
continually altering its colour; the hues of the body to a certain degree, but more 
especially those of the throat, changing with a rapidity that is said even to surpass the 
famed powers of the chameleon. 

It is an active little creature, traversing perpendicular objects with nearly as much 
ease as the Gecko, and to aid it in these movements the last joint but one of the toes is 
3. G 


swollen, so as to form a pad, and is covered below with cross ridges, so as to enable the 
creature to take a firm hold of the object to which it is clinging. The food of the Anolis 
consists chiefly of insects, which are captured by means of singular address on the part of 
the Lizard. The Anolis can run up and down trees, walls, or rocks, with such rapidity, 
and leap so boldly from one spot to and her, that at a little distance its movements might 
easily be mistaken for those of a bird. 

Though not aquatic in its habits, and apparently not taking willingly to the water, 
the Anolis is mostly to be found in the woods and thickets that are in the close neigh- 
bourhood of a stream or lake. It is a timid, yet a restlessly inquisitive animal ; for 
although it hides itself with instinctive caution on hearing the approach of a footstep, it is 
of so curious a nature that it must needs poke its head out of its hiding-place, and so 
betray itself in spite of its timidity. So absorbed, indeed, is the Anolis in gratifying 
its curiosity that it will allow itself to be captured in a noose, and often falls a victim to 
the rude and inartificial snares made by children. Its voice is a little sharp chirruping 
sound ; and by imitating these notes, the children decoy it within reach of the fatal noose. 

The usual resting-place of the Crested Anolis is within the hollow of some decaying 
tree, where also the female deposits her eggs. 

The colour of the Crested Anolis is dark ashen blue, a blackish spot being apparent 
on each side. Along the nape of the neck and the back runs a series of long compressed 
scales, forming a toothed crest, and on the basal half of the tail is a fin-like crest, 
strengthened by bony rays. The throat-pouch is extremely large, and when inflated 
gives to the reptile quite an ungainly appearance. The greatest known length of the 
Crested Anolis is about eighteen inches, but the other species are generally of much 
smaller dimensions. The name Xiphosurus is of Greek origin, and signifies Sword-tail. 

OF the restricted genus Anolius, we take two examples. In this genus the back and 
nape of the neck are either smooth, or have a low crest formed by two series of short 
scales. The scaly plate at end of the muzzle is erect. All these Lizards are very active, 
inhabiting trees, and jumping about from branch to branch with wonderful skill, and 
clinging even to the pendent leaves by means of their curiously formed feet. 

This GREEN CAROLINA ANOLIS is, as its name imports, a native of North America, 
where it is tolerably common. It is a pretty lively little creature, specially brisk and 
active in its movements. 

This Lizard is, according to Holbrook, " a bold and daring animal, haunting outhouses 
and garden fences, and in new settlements it even enters the houses, walking over the 
tables and other articles of furniture in search of flies. It is very active, climbing trees 
with great rapidity, and leaping with ease from branch to branch and from tree to tree, 
securing itself even on the leaves by means of the oval disks of the fingers and toes, which 
enable it also to walk easily on glass, and on the sides and ceilings of rooms. It feeds on 
insects, and destroys great numbers, seizing them suddenly and devouring them, unre- 
strained even by the presence of man." 

Towards the spring, the Green Anolis becomes quarrelsome, and is so exceedingly 
pugnacious, that the adult males hardly ever meet without a fight, the vanquished usually 
coming off with the loss of his tail a misfortune, however, that sometimes occurs to both 
the combatants. This Lizard is seldom seen in all its beauty except \vhen engaging in 
battle, for at the sight of its antagonist it remains stationary for a moment, nods its head 
up and down two or three times, as if to work itself into a proper state of fury, puffs out 
its dewlap, which then becomes of a light scarlet, and having gone through all these 
preliminaries, it leaps on its foe and the struggle begins. As the summer draws on, the 
irascibility of its temper diminishes, and during the whole summer and early autumn these 
pretty Lizards may be seen amicably associating together. They are fond of basking in 
the sun, and will then dilate their dewlaps, at the same time assuming the most brilliant 
emerald hues. 

The colour of this reptile is extremely variable, altering even in the same individual 
according to the season of the year, the temperature, the health, or even the present state 
of the creature's temper. Generally the whole upper surface is beautiful golden green, and 

RED-THROATED ANOLIS. Anolivs bullaris. 

GREEN CAROLINA ANOL1S. Anolitts principdlis. 

the abdomen white, with a tinge of green. The dewlap, or throat-pouch, is white, with a 
few little spots and five bars of red, which colour, when the pouch is inflated, spreads 
over its whole surface. The total length of this reptile is nearly seven inches. 

THE second species, the EED-THEOATED ANOLIS, is a native of America and the neigh- 
bouring isles. 

It is a brisk and lively little creature, darting about the ground, over rocks, among tho 
branches, or upon the leaves, with equal address. It is, perhaps, a little too fond of 
fighting, and terribly apt to quarrel with others of its own kind. Those who have 
witnessed a combat between two of these Lizards say that it is remarkable for ferocity, 
courage and endurance. They face each other with expanded throats and glaring eyes, 
their skin changing its lustrous colouring, and their whole being instinct with fury. 

As during each combat one or two females are generally spectators of the fight, it is 
probable they may be the cause of war, and that the victor may receive his reward from 
one of the female witnesses of his prowess. So furious do they become, that the conqueror 
is said to devour the vanquished, who, however, sometimes runs away as fast as he can, 
and escapes with the loss of his tail, which is left writhing in the victor's mouth and soon 
swallowed. Those who have thus lost their tails seem to be greatly affected by the 
mutilation, and are timid and languishing afterwards. 

The inflated throat part of the angry animal has a very curious effect, as it becomes of 
a bright cherry-red, due probably to the excited state of the creature. 

Mr. Bell, in his work on British reptiles, mentions a curious anecdote of one of these 
Lizards which was worsted in combat with a common garden-spider. " The activity of the 
smaller insectivorous Lizards, when in pursuit of their food, is exceedingly curious and 
interesting. They watch with all the caution of a cat, and dart upon their prey with the 
quickness of lightning. 

In the act of seizing their food, however, they must necessarily be exposed to some 
danger from the noxious qualities of the insects which they indiscriminately attack. The 
following fact would seem to indicate that even in our own temperate climate, an insect 
not generally recognised as poisonous may inflict a fatal injury on its saurian enemy. 

o 2 


Some years since, I had in my possession two living specimens of the beautiful little 
green Anolis of the West Indies, a Lizard about the size of our smallest species. I was in 
the habit of feeding them with flies and other insects, and having one day placed in the 
cage with them a very large garden-spider (Epeira diademd), one of the Lizards darted at 
it, but seized it only by the leg. The spider instantly ran round and round the creature's 
mouth, weaving a very thick web round both jaws, and then gave it a severe bite on the 
lip, just as this species of spider usually does with any large insect which it has taken. 
The Lizard was greatly distressed, and I removed the spider and rubbed off the web, the 
confinement of which appeared to give it great annoyance, but in a few days it died, 
though previously in as perfect health as its companion, which lived for a long time 

With regard to the injury produced by the bite of the spider, I can say from personal 
experience that even to human beings, especially those who are tender-skinned, the bite 
of the common garden-spider is extremely painful. I have suffered for some hours from 
the bite of one of these creatures, and I have seen the arm of a young lady flushed and 
swollen, because a garden-spider had bitten the back of her hand. The pain is something 
like that produced by the sting of a wasp, but more dull, and seeming to throb with the 

The colour of the Red -throated Anolis is greenish blue, excepting on the throat when 
the creature is excited. There is no crest on the nape and back, but the tail is slightly 
toothed above. When full grown it is about the size of our sand Lizard. 

CROWDED TAFAYAXIN. Phrynosoma Blainvillii 

OUR iast example of this large and interesting family is the CEOWNED TAPAYAXIN, one 
of the singular North American reptiles which are popularly known by the name of 
Horned Toads, their general form and mode of sitting being extremely toad-like. 

This animal is not at all uncommon in California, and is said when at liberty in its 
wild state to move with much rapidity over the ground in search of its insect prey. Its 
habits in confinement, however, do not carry out this statement, as it is then sluggish to 
a degree, remaining for many consecutive' hours in precisely the same attitude, heedless of 
the falling rain or the burning rays of the sun, and scarcely changing its position even 
when pushed with the finger. It is quite harmless, in spite of its very formidable looks, 
and does not attempt to avenge itself upon its captor, however roughly it may be handled. 

FRINGED DRAGON. Draco fimbri&tus. 

FLYING DRAGON. -Draco volant 

After a while it can be made to know its owner, and will even take flies and other insects 
out of his hand. Little red ants seem to be its favourite food, but it lives on beetles, and 
insects of various kinds. 

The head of this curious reptile is armed with long, pointed, conical spines, set around 
its edge and directed backward. Shorter and stouter spines, but of a triangular shape, are 
scattered over the back, and extend even over the odd, short, and pointed tail. Each edge 
of the tail is armed with a strong row of spines, giving it a regularly toothed appearance. 
The general colour of the Crowned Tapayaxin is grey, variegated with several irregular 
bands of rich chestnut-brown. The head is light brown blotched with a darker hue, and 
the under parts are ochry yellow, marked with sundry blotches of dark grey. 

THE family which comes next in order is that in which are included the AGAMAS, a group 
of Lizards which have been appropriately termed the Iguanas of the Old "World. In the 
members of this family the teeth are set upon the edge of the jaws, and not upon their 
inner side, as in the true Iguanas of the New World. Between thirty and forty genera 
are contained in this family, and some of the species are interesting as well as peculiar 

Perhaps the most curious of all this family, if not, indeed, the most curious of all the 
reptiles, is the little Lizard which is well known under the title of the FLYING DRAGON. 

This singular reptile is a native of Java, Borneo, the Philippines and neighbouring 
islands, and is tolerably common. Some writers believe that this creature was the original 
source from which the many fables respecting the formidable dragon of ancient and 
modern mythology were derived. Perhaps, however, the real due to the various fables 


that were once so common respecting the formidable dragon may be found in one of 
the huge saurians of the ancient days, which had survived its comrades, and preserved 
its existence upon the earth after man had been placed upon this planet. 

The most conspicuous characteristic of this reptile is the singularly developed membra- 
nous lobes on either side, which are strengthened by certain slender processes from the 
first six false ribs, and serve to support the animal during its bold leaps from branch to 
branch. Many of the previously mentioned Lizards are admirable leapers, but they are all 
outdone by the Dragon, which is able, by means of the membranous parachute with which 
it is furnished, to sweep through distances of thirty paces, the so-called flight being almost 
identical with that of the flying squirrels and flying fish. 

When the Dragon is at rest, or even when traversing the branches of trees, the para- 
chute lies in folds along the sides, but when it prepares to leap from one bough to another, 
it spreads its winged sides, launches boldly into the air, and sails easily, with a slight 
fluttering of the wings, towards the point on which it had fixed, looking almost like a stray 
leaf blown by the breeze. As if in order to make itself still more buoyant, it inflates the 
three membranous sacs that depend from its throat, suffering them to collapse again when 
it has settled upon the branch. It is a perfectly harmless creature, and can be handled 
with impunity. The food of the Flying Dragon consists of insects. 

The colour of this reptile is variable, but is usually as follows : The upper surface is 
grey with a tinge of olive, and daubed or mottled with brown. Several stripes of greyish 
white are sometimes seen upon the wings, which are also ornamented with an angular 
network of dark blackish brown. Sometimes the black is rather plentiful upon the wings, 
forming four or five oblique bands near the edge. It is a small creature, measuring only a 
few inches in length. 

The FRINGED DEACON is mostly found in Sumatra, where it seems to be tolerably 
common. In habits, and in general appearance, this reptile bears a great resemblance to 
the preceding species, from which, however, it may be known by the conspicuous black 
spots on its wings, each spot being surrounded with a ring of white. The head is greyish 
white, covered with an irregular network of dark brown, and on the throat are a number 
of circular specks covered witli granular scales. Upon the under parts of the male, the 
scales are rather large and keeled, and upon the wing are a number of rather short white 
dashes of a partly triangular shape. Along the sides runs a series of small triangular 
keeled scales. 

Besides these species there are several other flying Dragons, all inhabiting similar 
localities. They are divided into genera on account of the different structure of the ear 
and the position of the nostrils. The tail of all the Dragon Lizards is extremely long, and 
very slenderly formed. 

A VERY curious reptile of this family deserves a passing notice. This is the TIGER 
LIZARD, or GONYOCEPHALE ( Gonyocephalus chameleontina), a native of Java. This creature 
is remarkable for the high and deeply toothed crest which runs along the nape of the 
neck, like the crest of an ancient helmet, and far overtops the head, although the upper 
part of the skull is much raised by an enlargement of the orbits. A large but compressed 
Douch hangs from the lower ja\r and throat, and is prolonged so as to form an angular fold 
just before the shoulder. A toothed crest runs along the back, but is barely one quarter 
the height of that which passes over the nape, and the tail is long and compressed. The 
colour of this Lizard is green, with variable streaks and scribblings of black, and the legs 
are deeply banded. The Tiger Lizard sometimes attains a length of three feet 

The Lizards of this family are remarkable for the extraordinary modifications of form 
which they exhibit In one species, such as the tiger Lizard, a row of long spike-like 
scales is raised upon the neck, in the dragons the skin of the sides is dilated to an 
enormous extent, and even the ribs are drawn out like wire and turned out of their usual 
course to support the membranous expansion, and in the FRILLED LIZARD the neck is 
furnished with a large plaited membrane on each side, forming a most remarkable appen- 
dage to the animal without any apparent object. 

PRILLED LIZARD. Chlamydosaitrus Kingn. 

The Frilled Lizard is a native of Australia, and, like most of the family, is generally 
found on trees, which it can traverse with great address. It. seems to be a bold and 
courageous animal, trusting to its formidable teeth and generally ferocious aspect as a 
means of defence. "As we were pursuing our walk in the afternoon," writes Captain 
Grey, " we fell in with a specimen of the remarkable Frilled Lizard. It lives principally in 
trees, though it can run very swiftly along the ground. When not provoked or disturbed, 
it moves quietly about, with its frill lying back in plaits upon the body ; but it is very 
irascible, and directly it is frightened, it elevates the frill or ruff, and makes for a tree, 
where, if overtaken, it throws itself upon its stern, raising its head and chest as high as it 
can upon the fore legs ; then, doubling its tail underneath the body, and displaying a very 
formidable set of teeth from the concavity of its large frill, it boldly faces an opponent, 
biting furiously whatever is presented to it, and even venturing so far in its rage as to 
fairly make a charge at its enemy. 

We repeatedly tried the courage of this Lizard, and it certainly fought bravely when- 
ever attacked. From the animal making so much use of its frill as a covering and means 
of defence for its body, this is probably one of the uses to which nature intended the 
appendage should be applied." 

This remarkable Lizard was discovered by Mr. Allan Cunningham, who caught the 
first specimen as it was perching on the stem of a small decayed tree. 

The general colour of the Frilled Lizard is yellow -brown mottled with black, and it 
is remarkable that the tongue and the inside of the mouth are also yellow. The frill, 
which forms so conspicuous an ornament to this creature, is covered with scales, and 
toothed on the edge. It does not come to its full size until the animal has attained 
maturity, and increases in regular proportion to the age of its owner. In the young, the 
frill does not even reach the base of the fore limbs, while in the adult it extends well 
beyond them. The head is somewhat pyramidal in shape, and four-sided. There is no 
pouch on the throat. A small crest runs along the nape of the neck, but does not 
extend to the back. The tail is long and tapering, and like the back, is devoid of a crest 
The eyes are rather prominent during the life of the reptile, and the tongue is thick, 


short, and nicked at the end. It is rather a large species, measuring when full grown 
nearly a yard in total length. 

IN the genus Grammatophora, the head is three-sided, and rather flattened, with a 
sharpish muzzle. There is no throat^pouch, but the skin of the chest is folded into a 
kind of cross plait. The tail is long, conical, rather flattened at the base, and covered 
with overlapping keeled scales. All the members of this genus inhabit Australia.. 

The MUEICATED LIZARD, or GRAMMATOPHORE, is a native of New Holland. It is 
almost entirely arboreal in its habits, being seldom if ever seen except on trees, which it 
traverses with remarkable agility, being quick, sharp, and dashing in its movements. 
Tt feeds on insects, and is enabled to catch them as they settle oc the leaves or branches. 


It also eats the caterpillars, grubs, and other larvae, which it can find in profusion among 
the boughs. 

The colouring of this Lizard is rather variable. Generally the back is brownish grey, 
traversed by sundry brownish bars, running longitudinally on the body and transversely 
upon the legs and tail. Upon the nape of the neck and the back runs a crest composed 
of triangular compressed scales, having two or three, similar rows of pointed scales at 
each side. Upon the sides of the nape are rows of triangular keeled scales, and the sides 
are covered with little compressed scales intermixed with large keeled shields. The toes 
are long, and the two central ones are much longer than the others. This is a small 
Lizard, only measuring when full grown about fourteen inches. 

The STELLIO, sometimes called the HAKDIM by the Arabs, is a well-known Lizard 
inhabiting Northern Africa, Syria, and Greece. 

It is a very active little creature, haunting the ruins of ancient dwellings, heaps of 
stones, rocks, and similar localities, among which it flits from spot to spot with ceaseless 
activity. It has a curious habit of bending or nodding its head downwards, a movement 
which is greatly resented by the stricter Mahometans, who are pleased to consider the 
Lizard as offering an insult to their religion by imitating them in their peculiar actions 
of prayer. The more religious among them, therefore, take every opportunity of killing 
the Stellio, blending amusement, piety, and destructiveness with a happy appreciation of 
their several merits, earning a good position in Paradise on easy terms, and consoling 

EGYPTIAN MASTIGURB. Uroprastix spinipts. 

STELLIO OR HARDIM. Stellio Cordj)lf. 

themselves for the present dearth of infidel heads by slicing off those of the unbelieving 

The Stellio lives almost entirely on the various insects that flit about the sand, and 
its quick rapid movements are needed to secure its prey. A kind of cosmetic was 
anciently made from this reptile, and even at the present day, the Turks employ it in the 
offices of the toilet. 

The colour of the Stellio is olive-green above, clouded with black, and the under parts 
are yellow, sometimes tinged with green. There is no crest upon the nape of the neck, 
and the scales of the tail are rather large, and arranged in distinct whorls. There is no 
decided throat-pouch, but the skin of the throat is loose and plaited into a single cross 
fold towards its base. The body is rather flattened, and there is a longitudinal plait on 
each side. The tail is round and conical. 

IN the restricted genus AGAMA a word, by the way, which is not derived from any 
classical source, but is simply the popular name among the natives of Jamaica the 
scales of the back are flat and keeled, and the third and fourth toes are nearly equal in 
length. The throat is marked with one longitudinal fold, and one or sometimes two 
transverse folds towards its base. Upon the sides of the neck and near the ears are 
curious groups of spiny scales. There is a slight crest along the back, the body is rather 
flattened, and the tail is long, tapering, and is covered with whorls of boldly projecting 

In a very old work on natural history, it is stated that the Lizards which have their 
tails thus armed with sharp spiny scales, make use of them in a rather singular fashion. 
They feed, according to these old writers, on cattle and other animals, and judging that 
from their small size they cannot bring an ox or a cow home after they have killed it, they 
jump on its back, cling tightly there with their feet, and by judicious lashing of the sharp 
tail, guide the animal to their home, where they give the fatal bite. 

The SPINOSE AGAMA (Agama colonorum) is a well-known example of this genus, 
residing in Northern Africa, and plentiful in Egypt. The colour of this reptile is brown ; 

MOLOCH. K o\oc\ IJrridus. 

the scales on the sides of the neck are very long and sharp, and those of the back are 
broad, boldly keeled, and sharply pointed, so that the creature presents rather a formidable 
appearance. The tail is long and powerful 

THEEE is a very remarkable Lizard belonging to this family, called the EAKED MEGA- 
LOCHILE, or sometimes, though wrongly, the EAKED AGAMA. 

This curious creature is found in Eussia, several specimens from that country being in 
the collection of the British Museum. In this genus, containing, as far as is at present 
known, only one species, the head is flat and round, the eyes large, and the ears sunken 
and concealed under the skin. On the angle of the mouth at each side is placed a large 
membranous fold of skin, curved so as to bear a close resemblance to a large external 
ear, and boldly toothed on its edge. The neck is rather contracted, as if pinched, and has 
a cross fold below. The back has no crest, the tail is much flattened throughout its 
length, and the toes are long and very strongly toothed on the edge. The colour of this 
reptile is grey and brown, with a slight green wash upon the top of the head. 

The EGYPTIAN MASTIGUBE, or SPINE-FOOTED STELLIO, is a native of Northern Africa, 
and was said, though wrongly, to be the reptile spoken of by the ancients as the land- 
crocodile. A figure of this creature may be seen on page 89. 

This species attains a rather large size, a full-grown specimen sometimes measuring a 
yard in length. It is an inhabitant of desert spots, preferring old ruins, rocky ground, and 
similar localities, where it can obtain instant refuge in case of alarm. The colour of this 
reptile is bright grass-green during life, but, as is generally the case with all these animals, 
the brilliant colours fade soon after death, and change to dingy blackish brown if the skin 
be stuffed, or to mottled greys, browns, and blacks, if preserved in spirits. The head of 
this creature is rounded, the back without a crest, the skin of the throat so folded as partly 
to cover the ears, and the ears themselves are oblong, and toothed in front. The tail is 
rather flattened, and furnished with transverse rows of large scales, boldly keeled, and 
sharply pointed. A few conical spines are scattered upon the upper part of the thigh, the 
sides, and loins. 


THE last example of the Agamidse which can be figured in these pages is the most 
ferocious-looking of the whole family, and were its dimensions much enlarged, would be 
universally allowed to be the most terrible-looking creature on the face of the earth. Many 
reptiles are spiny in different parts of their bodies, but this creature, appropriately termed 
the MOLOCH, bristles like a hedgehog with sharp spikes, which project both above and below 
in such profusion, that this Lizard almost seems to have been formed for the purpose of 
testing' the number of effective spikes that can be planted on a given space. The creature 
is all spikes, and thorns, and projections. Upon the top of the head two very large spikes 
are seen, projecting from each eyebrow, and on the back of the neck is a large rounded 
protuberance, covered with little spiny scales, and having one long projecting spine on 
each side. On the back, the arrangement is very curious. A number of long spines are 
scattered at intervals over the surface, each of which is surrounded by a circle of lesser 
spines. It is worthy of notice that these large spines are hollow, and fit upon pro- 
tuberances of the skin much in the same way that a cow's horn is sheathed on its core. 
The whole head and limbs are covered with spines similar in formation, but smaller in 
size. The tail is covered with long, sharp, spiny scales, arranged in whorls, and boldly 
radiating from their centre ; and even the toes are covered as far as the long, sharp claws, 
with boldly keeled scales. The general colour of this reptile is palish yellow, spotted 
regularly with brown above and below, with dark red blotches edged with black. The 
Moloch is a native of Australia. 

THE last tribe of the Lizards contains but one genus" and very few species. From 
their habit of constantly living on trees, these creatures are called DENDEOSAUKA, 
or TEEE LIZARDS. In these, the scales of the whole body are small and granular, 
and arranged in circular bands. The tongue is very curious, being cylindrical and 
greatly extensile, reminding the observer of a common earthworm, and swollen at the 
tip. The eyes are as peculiar as the tongue, being very large, globular, and projecting, 
and the ball is closely covered with a circular lid, through which a little round hole is 
pierced, much like the wooden snow-spectacles of the Esquimaux. The body is rather 
compressed, the ears are concealed under the skin, and the toes are separated into two 
opposable groups, so that the creature can hold very firmly upon the boughs. All the 
Dendrosaura are inhabitants of the Old World. The tail is very long and prehensile, 
and is almost invariably seen coiled round the bough on which the reptile is standing. 

The most familiar example of the Dendrosaura is the common CHAMELEON, a reptile 
which is found both in Africa and Asia. 

This singular reptile has long been famous for its power of changing colour, a 
property, however, which has been greatly exaggerated, as will be presently seen. 
Nearly all the Lizards are constitutionally torpid, though some of them are gifted with 
great rapidity of movement during certain seasons of the year. The Chameleon, 
however, carries this sluggishness to an extreme, its only change being from total 
immobility to the slightest imaginable degree of activity. No one ever saw a Chameleon 
even walk, as we understand that word, while running is a feat that no Chameleon ever 
dreamed of. 

When it moves along the branch upon which it is clinging, the reptile first raises one 
foot very slowly indeed, and will sometimes remain foot in air for a considerable time, as 
if it had gone to sleep in the interim. It then puts the foot as slowly forward, and 
takes a good grasp of the branch. Having satisfied itself that it is firmly secured, it 
leisurely unwinds its tail, which has been tightly twisted round the branch, shifts it a 
little forward, coils it round again, and then rests for a while. With the same elaborate 
precaution, each foot is successively lifted and advanced, so that the forward movements 
seem but little faster than the hour-hand of a watch. 

The extreme slowness and general habits of this animal are well depicted in an 
account of a tame Chameleon, kindly presented to me by Captain Drayson, RA. 


" I once owned a Chameleon, which was a very quaint creature. He had been 
captured by some Kaffir boys, whom I found laughing immoderately at the animal, a 
practice which I found very common amongst these people whenever they saw one of 
these reptiles. For a trifle the creature became my property, and I carried him to a 
little wattle and daub house in which I then resided. Being anxious to watch the 
private habits of my visitor, I drove a stick into the wall, and placed him upon it. The 
stick was about four feet in length and half an inch in diameter, so that the locomotion 
of the Chameleon was rather limited. 

The first peculiarity I remarked about him was the very slow methodical way in 
which he moved. To turn to the right-about would occupy him several minutes, whilst 
to move from one end of the stick to the other was a recreation of which he was sparing, 
a whole day being devoted to this performance. There was something rather antique in 
his general appearance, both as regards his form and movements ; the long independent- 
moving, swivel eyes, giving him the characteristics of an Egyptian production, whilst the 
habit of puffing himself out occasionally, and of hissing, made him seem old-fashioned in 
the extreme. 

I was disappointed when I found how slight was the variation in his colour. I had 
been led to believe that if placed on a scarlet, blue, or black groundwork he would soon 
assume the same hue ; this I found was a delusion. His usual colour was a light 
yellowish green, and this he could alter to a dark blue or brown-green, and he could 
make several dark brown spots become very prominent on his skin. 

The method I used to adopt to make him show off, was to rub his side with my 
finger. He objected to this treatment, and used to puff away pompously, and vary his 
tints, as it appeared to me, by means of contracting or expanding his muscles under the 
skin. He looked very lantern-like, as though he were merely skin and ribs, and he was 
never found guilty of eating anything. Sometimes I saw flies settle upon him, a liberty 
which he did not resent. He merely turned one of his swivel eyes towards the delinquent 
and squinted calmly at it. Occasionally I put a fly in his mouth, and forced him to keep 
it there ; he took the affront very coolly, and the fly was seen no more. So hollow did he 
appear, that I frequently listened to hear if the flies were buzzing about inside him, but 
all was quiet. He stayed on the stick during two months. I then gave him a run out 
of doors, but having left him a few minutes, he took advantage of my absence and 
levanted, after which I saw him no more." 

The food of the Chameleon consists of insects, mostly flies, but, like many other 
reptiles, the Chameleon is able to live for some months without taking food at all. This 
capacity for fasting, together with the singular manner in which the reptile takes its prey, 
gave rise to the absurd fable that the Chameleon lived only upon air. To judge by 
external appearance, there never was an animal less fitted than the Chameleon for 
capturing the winged and active flies. But when we come to examine its structure, we 
find that it is even better fitted for this purpose than many of the more active insect- 
eating Lizards. 

The tongue is the instrument by which the fly is captured, being darted out with 
such singular velocity that it is hardly perceptible, and a fly seems to leap into the 
mouth of the reptile as if attracted by magnetism. This member is very muscular, and 
is furnished at the tip with a kind of viscid secretion which causes the fly to adhere to it. 
A lady who kept a Chameleon for some time, told me that her pet died, and when they 
came to examine it, they found that its tongue had in some strange way got down its 
throat, an accident which they took to be the cause of its death. Its mouth is well 
furnished with teeth, which are set firmly into its jaw, and enable it to bruise the insects 
after getting them into its mouth by means of the tongue. 

The eyes have a most singular appearance, and are worked quite independently of 
each other, one rolling backwards while the other is directed forwards or upwards. In 
connexion with this subject some very curious and valuable remarks will be found 
on page 94. There is not the least spark of expression in the eye of the Chameleon, 
which looks about as intellectual as a green pea with a dot of ink upon it. 

CHAMELEON. Chameleo vulgdris. 

LARGE-NAPED CHAiMELEON -CJuimeleo bifurcu*. 

Owing to the exceeding slowness of its movements, it has no way of escaping when 
once discovered, and as a French writer well says, "un Cameleon aper$u est un Came'le'on 
perdu." Great numbers of these creatures fall victims to enemies of every kind, and 
were it not that their colour assimilates so well with the foliage on which they dwell, 
and their movements are so slow as to give no aid to the searching eye of their foes, the 
race would soon be extinct. The Chameleon has an odd habit of puffing out its body for 
some unexplained reason, and inflating itself until it swells to nearly twice its usual size. 
In this curious state it will remain for several hours, sometimes allowing itself to collapse 
a little, and then reinflating its skin until it becomes as tense as a drum and looks as 
hollow as a balloon. 

The Chameleon is readily tamed, if such a word can be applied to the imperturbable 
nonchalance with which it behaves under every change of circumstance. It can be 
handled without danger, and although its teeth are strong, will not attempt to bite the 
hand that holds it. It is, however, rather quarrelsome with its own kind, and the only 
excitement under which it has been seen to labour is when it takes to fighting with a 
neighbour. Not that even then it hurries itself particularly or does much harm to its 
opponent, the combatants contenting themselves with knocking their tails together in a 
grave and systematic manner. 

A few words on the change of colour will not be out of place. The usual colour of the 
Chameleon when in its wild state is green, from which it passes through the shades of 
violet, blue and yellow, of which the green consists. In this country, however, it rarely 
retains the bright green hue, the colour fading into yellowish grey, or the kind of tint 
which is known asfeuitte-morte. One of the best and most philosophical disquisitions on 


this phenomenon is that of Dr. Weissenbaum, published in the " Magazine of Natural 
History" for 1838. The writer had a living Chameleon for some time, and gives the result 
of his observations in the following words : 

" The remote cause of the difference of colour in the two lateral folds of the body, may 
be distinctly referred to the manner in which the light acts upon the animal. The state- 
ment of Murray that the side turned towards the light is always of a darker colour, is 
perfectly true ; this rule holds good with reference to the direct and diffused light of the 
sun and moon as to artificial light. Even when the animal was moving in the walks of 
my garden, and happened to come near enough to the border to be shaded by the box 
edging, that side so shaded would instantly become less darkly coloured than the other. 

Now the light in this way seldom illumines exactly one half of the animal in a more 
powerful manner than the other, and as the middle line is constantly the line of demarca- 
tion between the two different shades of colour, we must evidently refer the different 
effects to two different centres, from which the nervous currents can only radiate, under 
such circumstances, towards the organs respectively situated on each side of the mesial 
line. Over these centres, without doubt, the organ of vision immediately presides ; and, 
indeed, we ought not to wonder that the action of light has such powerful effects on the 
highly irritable organization of the Chameleon, considering that the eye is most highly 
developed. The lungs are but secondarily affected, but they are likewise more strongly 
excited on the darker side, which is constantly more convex than the other. 

Many other circumstances may be brought forward in favour of the opinion that the 
nervous currents in one half of the Chameleon are going on independently of those in the 
other ; and that the animal has two lateral centres of perception, sensation and motion, 
besides the common one in which must reside the faculty of concentration. 

Notwithstanding the strictly symmetrical construction of the Chameleon as to its two 
halves, the eyes move independently of each other, and convey different impressions to 
their different centres of perception : the consequence is, that when the animal is agitated, 
its movements appear like those of two animals glued together. Each half wishes to move 
its own way, and there is no concordance of action. The Chameleon, therefore, is not able 
to swim like other animals ; it is so frightened if put into water, that the faculty of 
concentration is lost, and it tumbles about as if in a state of intoxication. 

On the other hand, when the creature is undisturbed, the eye which receives the 
strongest impression propagates it to the common centre, and prevails on the other eye to 
follow that impression, and direct itself to the same object. The Chameleon, moreover, 
may be asleep on one side and awake on the other. When cautiously approaching my 
specimen at night with a candle, so as not to awake the whole animal by the shaking of 
the room, the eye turned toward the flame would open and begin to move, and the 
corresponding side to change colour, whereas the other side would remain for several 
seconds longer in its torpid and changeable state, with its eye shut." 

It seems probable that the change of colour may be directly owing to the greater or 
less rapidity of the circulation, which may turn the Chameleon from green to yellow, just 
as in ourselves an emotion of the mind can tinge the cheek with scarlet, or leave it pallid 
and death -like. Mr. Milne Edwards thinks that it is due to two layers of pigment cells in 
the skin, arranged so as to be movable upon each other, and so produce the different 

The young of the Chameleon are produced from eggs, which are very spherical, white 
in colour, and covered with a chalky and very porous shell. They are placed on the 
ground under leaves, and there left to hatch by the heat of the sun, and the warmth 
produced by the decomposition of the leaves. The two sexes can be distinguished from 
each other by the shape of the tail, which in the male is thick and swollen at the base. 

THEBE are nearly twenty species of Chameleons known to zoologists at the present day, 
all presenting some peculiarity of form or structure. One of the most remarkable species 
is the LARGE-NAPED CHAMELEON or Fork-nosed Chameleon, as it is sometimes called. 

This creature inhabits Madagascar, that land which nourishes so many strange forms 


of animal life. It is also found in India, the Moluccas, and Australia. When full grown, 
the muzzle of the male is very deeply cleft, or forked, the two branches diverging from 
each other, and presenting the singular appearance shown in the illustration. The female 
has no horns, and in the male they are short and blunt while the creature is young, not 
obtaining their full length and sharpness until it has attained full age. These curious 
forked projections belong to the skull, and are not merely a pair of prolonged scales or 

THE large and important order at which we now arrive, consists of reptiles which are 
popularly known as SNAKES, or more scientifically as OPHIDIA, and to which all the true 
serpents are to be referred. 

Almost every order is bordered, so to speak, with creatures so equally balanced between 
the characteristics of the orders that precede and follow it, that they can be with difficulty 
referred to their right position. Such, indeed, is the case with the Ophidia, from which 
are excluded, by the most recent systematic zoologists, the amphisbsenians and many other 
footless reptiles, now classed among the lizards. The greater number of the Snakes are 
without any vestige of limbs, but in one or two species, such as the pythons, the hinder 
pair of limbs are represented by a pair of little horny spurs placed just at the base of the 
tail, and are supported by tiny bones that are the undeveloped commencements of hinder 
limbs. Indeed, several of the true lizards, the common blindworm, for example, are not 
so well supplied with limbs as these true Snakes. 

The movements of the serpent tribe are, in consequence, performed without the aid of 
limbs, and are, as a general rule, achieved by means of the ribs and the large cross scales 
that cover the lower surface. Each of these scales overlaps its successor, leaving a bold 
horny ridge whenever it is partially erected by the action of the muscles. The reader will 
easily see that a reptile so constructed can move with some rapidity by successively 
thrusting each scale a little forward, hitching the projecting edge on any rough substance, 
and drawing itself forward until it can repeat the process with the next scale. These 
movements are consequently very quiet and gliding, and the creature is able to pursue its 
way under circumstances of considerable difficulty. 

Oftentimes the Snake uses these scales in self-defence, offering a passive resistance to 
its foe when it is incapable of acting on the offensive. Any one may easily try this 
experiment by taking a common field Snake, letting it glide among the stubble or into 
the interstices of rocky ground, and then trying to pull it out by the tail. He will find 
that even if the reptile be only half concealed, it cannot be dragged backward without 
doing it considerable damage, for on feeling the grasp, it erects all the scales and opposes 
their edges so effectually to the pull that it mostly succeeds in gliding through from the 
hand that holds it. I have often lost Snakes by allowing them to insinuate themselves 
into crevices, and have been fain to let them escape rather than subject them to the 
pain, if not absolute damage, which they must have suffered in being dragged back by 
main force. 

The tongue of the Snakes is long, black, and deeply forked at its extremity, and 
when at rest is drawn into a sheath in the lower jaw. In these days it is perhaps hardly 
necessary to state that the tongue is perfectly harmless, even in a poisonous serpent, and 
that the popular idea of the "sting" is entirely erroneous. The Snakes all seem to 
employ the tongue largely as a feeler, and may be seen to touch gently with the forked 
extremities the objects over which they are about to crawl or which they desire to 
examine. The external organs of hearing are absent. 

The vertebral column is most wonderfully formed, and is constructed with a special 
view to the peculiar movements of the serpent tribe. Each vertebra is rather elongated, 


and is furnished at one end with a ball and at the other with a corresponding socket, into 
which the ball of the succeeding vertebra exactly fits, thus enabling the creature to 
writhe and twine in all directions without danger of dislocating its spine. This ball-and- 
socket principle extends even to the ribs, which are jointed to certain rounded projections 
of the vertebrae in a manner almost identical with the articulation of the vertebrae upon 
each other, and as they are moved by very powerful muscles, perform most important 
functions in the economy of the creature to which they belong. 

Sometimes the Snakes advance by a series of undulations, either vertical or horizontal, 
according to the species, and when they proceed through water, where the scales of the 
abdomen woiild have no hold of the yielding element, their movements are always of 
this undulatory description. The number of vertebrae, and consequently of ribs, varies 
much in different species, in some Snakes being about three hundred. 

The jaws of the serpents are very wonderful examples of animal mechanics, and may 
be cited among the innumerable instances where the existing construction of living beings 
has long preceded the inventions of man. We have already seen the invaluable mechanic 
invention of the ball-and-socket joint exhibited in the vertebrae of the Snakes, and it 
may be mentioned that in the spot where the limbs of almost all animals, man included, 
are joined to the trunk, the ball-and-socket principle is employed, though in a less perfect 
manner than in the Snakes. It is by means of this beautiful form of joint that posture- 
masters and mountebanks are able to contort their bodies and limbs into so many 
wonderful shapes, the muscles and tendons yielding by constant use and enabling the 
bones to work in their sockets without hindrance. Indeed, a master of the art of 
posturing is really an useful member of society, at all events to the eye of the physio- 
logist, as showing the perfection of the human form, and the wonderful capabilities of 
man, even when considered from the mere animal point of view. 

In the jaw of the serpents, we shall find more than one curious example of the 
manner in which human inventions have succeeded, if, indeed, they have not been 
borrowed from some animal structure. 

All the Snakes are well supplied with teeth ; but their number, form, and structure 
differ considerably in the various species. Those Snakes that are not possessed of 
venomous fangs have the bones of the palate as well as the jaws furnished with teeth, 
which are of moderate size, simple in form, and all point backward, so as to prevent any 
animal from escaping which has ever been grasped, and acting as valves which permit of 
motion in one direction only. 

The bones of the jaws are, as has already been mentioned, very loosely constructed, 
their different portions being separable, and giving way when the creature exerts its 
wonderful powers of swallowing. The great python Snakes are well known to swallow 
animals of great proportionate size, and any one may witness the singular process by 
taking a common field Snake, keeping it without food for a month or so, and then giving 
it a large frog. As it seizes its prey, the idea of getting so stout an animal down that 
slender neck and through those little jaws appears too absurd to be entertained for a 
moment, and even the leg which it has grasped appears to be several times too large to be 
passed through the throat. But by slow degrees the frog disappears, the mouth of the 
Snake gradually widening, until the bones separate from each other to some distance, and 
are only held by the ligaments, and the whole jaw becoming dislocated, until the head 
and neck of the Snake look as if the skin had been stripped from the reptile, spread thin 
and flat, and drawn like a glove over the frog. 

No sooner, however, has the frog fairly descended into the stomach, than the head 
begins to assume its former appearance ; the elastic ligaments contract and draw the bones 
into their places, the scales, which had been far separated from each other, resume their 
ordinary position, and no one would imagine, from looking at the reptile, to what extent 
the jaws and neck have recently been distended. As many of the Snakes swallow their 
prey alive the frog for example, having been heard to squeak while in the stomach of its 
destroyer the struggles of the internal victim would often cause its escape, were it not 
for the array of recurved teeth, which act so effectually, that even if the Snake wished to 
disgorge its prey it could not do so. Mr. Bell had in his collection a small Snake which 


had tried to swallow a mouse too large even for the expansile powers of a Snake's throat, 
iiiul which had literally burst through the skin and muscles of the neck. 

The lower jaw, moreover, is not jointed directly to the skull, but to a most singular 
development of the temporal bone, which throws out two elongated processes at right 
angles with each other, like the letter L, laid horizontally ""I, so that a curious double 
lever is obtained, precisely after the fashion of the well-known " throwing-stick " of the 
aboriginal Australians, which enables those savages to fling their spears with deadly 
effect to a distance of a hundred yards. 

The teeth of the venomous Serpents will be described in connexion with one of 
the species. 

The Serpents, in common with other reptiles, have their bodies covered by a delicate 
epidermis, popularly called the skin, which lies over the scales, and is renewed at 
tolerably regular intervals. Towards the time of changing its skin, the Snake becomes 
dull and sluggish, the eyes look white and blind, owing to the thickening of the epidermis 
that covers them, and the bright colours become dim and ill-defined. Presently, however, 
the skin splits upon the back, mostly near the head, and the Snake contrives to wriggle 
itself out of the old integument, usually turning it inside out in the process. This shed 
skin is transparent, having the shape of each scale impressed upon it, being fine and 
delicate as goldbeater's-skin, and being applicable to many of the same uses, such as 
shielding a small wound from the external air. In two very fine specimens of cast skins, 
formerly belonging to a viper and boa-constrictor, now lying before me, the structure of 
each scale is so well shown, that the characteristics of the two reptiles can be dis- 
tinguished as readily as if the creatures were present from whose bodies they were shed. 
Even the transparent scale that covers the eyes is drawn off entire, and the large 
elongated hexagonal scales that are arranged along the abdomen, and aid the animal in 
its progress, are exhibited so boldly that they will resist the movement of a finger drawn 
over them from tail to head. 

THE first sub-order of Snakes consists of those Serpents which are classed under the 
name of VIPEEINA. All these reptiles are devoid of teeth in the upper jaw except two 
long, poison-bearing fangs, set one at each side, and near the muzzle. The lower jaw is well 
furnished with teeth, and both jaws are feeble. The scales of the abdomen are bold, 
broad, and arranged like overlapping bands. The head is large in proportion to the neck, 
and very wide behind, so that the head of these Snakes has been well compared to an ace 
of spades. The hinder limbs are not seen. 

In the first family of the Viperine Snakes, called the CKOTALID.E, the face is marked 
with a large pit or depression on each side, between the eye and the nostril The 
celebrated and dreaded FEK-DE-LANCE belongs to this family. 

This terrible reptile is a native of Brazil, and in some parts is very common, owing to 
its exceeding fecundity and its habit of constant concealment. It has an especial liking 
for the sugar plantations, and a field of canes is seldom cut without the discovery of 
seventy or eighty of these venomous creatures. Martinique and St. Lucia are terribly 
haunted by this Snake, which is held in great dread by the natives and settlers. In 
general, the Serpents, even those of a poisonous character, avoid the presence of man, but 
the Fer-de-Lance frequently takes the initiative, and leaping from its concealment, fastens 
upon the passenger whose presence has disturbed its irritable temper, and inflicts a wound 
that is almost invariably fatal within a few hours. 

Even in those cases where the sufferer recovers for the time, the system is terribly 
injured, and the latent virulence of the poison can hardly be eliminated from the frame, 
even at the cost of painful boils and liberations which last for many years. The nervous 
system is also much affected, as giddiness and paralysis are among the usual consequences 
of the strong venom which this reptile extracts, by some inexplicable chemistry, from 
perfectly harmless food. Convulsions, severe pain at the heart, together with distressing 
nausea, are among the many symptoms produced by this poison. 

To escape this creature in its chosen haunts is a matter of very great difficulty, as it 
is either concealed under dead leaves, among the heavy foliage of parasitic plants, or 
3 H 

FER-DE-JjANCE. CniapedocephalMS 

coiled up in the nest of some poor bird whose eggs or young it has devoured, and from 
this spot' of vantage makes its stroke, swift and straight as a fencer's thrust, and without 
the least warning by hiss or rattle to indicate its purpose. 

All animals dread the Fer-de-Lance ; the horse prances and snorts in terror on 
approaching its hiding-place, his whole frame trembles with fear, and he cannot be 
induced by spur or whip to pass within striking distance of this formidable reptile. 
Birds of all kinds have a horror of its presence, and will pursue it from place to place, or 
hover near the spot on which it is resting, fluttering their wings, stretching their necks, 
and uttering hoarse cries of mingled rage and terror. The honey guide is especially 
fearfal of this Serpent, and has often guided a man, not as he supposed, to the vicinity 
of a hive of wild bees, but to the resting-place of this venomous Snake. The pig, when 
in good condition, is said to be the only animal that can resist the poison, the thick 
coating of fat which covers the body preventing the venom from mingling with the blood. 
It is said, indeed, that a fat hog cares nothing for Fer-de-Lance or rattlesnake, but 
receives their stroke with contemptuous indifference, charges at them fearlessly, tramples 
upon them until they are disabled, and then quietly eats them. 

Against the effects of this poison, there seems to be no certain remedy ; but the 
copious use of spirits has lately appeared to neutralize in some measure the full virulence 
of a Snake bite. The amount of strong spirits which can be drunk under such circum- 
stances is almost incredible, its whole force seeming to be employed in arming the nerves 
against the enfeebling power of the poison. Some recent and valuable experiments have 
shown, that if a man, bitten by a venomous Serpent, can be kept in a state of semi- 
intoxication through the use of spirituous liquors, this rather strange process will give 
him almost his only hope of escape. 

X"et nothing is made in vain, and terrible as is this creature to man, it is of no small 
use to him even in the localities where it is most dreaded. But for the presence of the 
Fer-de-Lance and one or two other Serpents closely allied to it, the sugar plantations 
would be devastated by the rats which crowd to such fertile spots, and on which this 
Snake chiefly feeds. 


As is the case with many Serpents, the colour of the Fer-de-Lance is rather variable. 
[ts usual tints are olive above with dark cross bands, and whitish grey below, covered 
with very minute dark dots. The head is brown. This reptile attains a considerable 
size, being generally five or six feet long, and occasionally reaching a length of seven or 
eight feet. The tail ends in a horny spine which scrapes harshly against rough objects, 
but does not rattle. 

CLOSELY allied to the fer-de-lance is another poisonous Serpent of Southern America, 
remarkable for the very large size to which it attains, and the glowing radiance of its 
fearful beauty. This is the CuRUCUCTJ, more familiarly known by the popular title of 
BUSHMASTER, (Ldchesis mutus). 

Mr. Waterton, who has incidentally mentioned this Snake in his " Wanderings," has 
kindly sent me the following information about this terrible creature. " The Bushmaster 
will sometimes reach fourteen feet in length. The Dutch gave it the name of Bush- 
master on account of its powers of destruction, and being the largest poisonous Snake 
discovered. It still continues to have the same name among the colonists of British 
Guiana. Its Indian name is CouANACOUCHi. It is a beautiful Serpent, displaying all the 
prismatic colours when alive, but they disappear after death. All these three species 
(the Bushmaster, Labarri, and Coulacanara) inhabit the trees as well as the ground, but 
as far as I could perceive, they never mount the trees with a full stomach." 

THE name of WATER VIPER is appropriately given to the creature now before us, in 
consequence of its water-loving habits. 

It is a native of many parts of America, and is never seen at any great distance from 
water, being found plentifully in the neighbourhood of rivers, marshes, and in swampy 
lands. It is a good climber of trees, and may be seen entwined in great numbers on the 
branches that overhang the water. On the least alarm, the reptile glides from the branch, 
drops into the water and wriggles its way into a place of safety. The object of climbing 
t*tie trees seems to be that the creature delights to bask in the sun, and takes that method 
of gratifying its inclination where the whole of the soil is wet and marshy. But in those 
localities where it can find dry banks and rising grounds, the Water Viper contents itself 
with ascending them and lying upon the dry surface enjoying the genial warmth. 

It is a most poisonous reptile, and is even more dreaded by the negroes than the 
rattlesnake, as like the fer-de-lance, it will make the first attack, erecting itself boldly, 
opening its mouth for a second or two, and then darting forward with a rapid spring. At 
all times it seems to be of an aggressive character, and has been known to chase and bite 
other Snakes put into the same cage, the poor creatures fleeing before it and endeavouring 
to escape by clinging to the sides of the cage. But when several other individuals of the 
same species were admitted, the very Snake that had before been so ferocious became 
quite calm, and a box containing four or five specimens has been sent on a journey of 
many miles without any quarrels ensuing among the inmates. 

The food of the Water Viper consists of fishes, which it can procure by its great 
rapidity of movement and excellent swimming powers, of reptiles and even of birds. 
Mr. T. W. Wood has favoured me with an account of the manner in which a Water Viper, 
m the collection of the Zoological Society, devoured the prey that was put before it 

" A short time ago I had the good fortune to be at the Zoological Gardens when the 
reptiles were fed. Some sparrows and titlarks were put into the apartment containing 
several specimens of the Water Viper. The sparrows seemed very much terrified, and 
soon huddled together in a corner, afraid, as I suppose, of the spectators. 

One of the titlarks, however, bolder than the rest, ran about as if at home. One of 
the Water Vipeis perceiving it quiet for a moment, seemed to fix its eye upon the poor 
little creature. The reptile commenced moving towards the bird slowly but surely, their 
eyes being intently fixed upon each other. When the Serpent had approached within 
about half an inch, it opened its mouth and seized the bird by the side, its left wing 
being grasped in the Snake's mouth. The ill-fated bird instantly gave two or three 
conviQsive struggles, the head then dropped, the eyes closed, and all was over ; a drop of 

H 2 

WATER VIPER. CencKrii pitcivonu. 

blood oozed slowly out of the bird's bill. The reptile did not release the bird after n was 
bitten, but began to swallow it almost immediately. 

Another titlark was then introduced by the keeper. This bird was, when I approached, 
lying on its side as if dead. Another Water Viper seized its head and commenced 
swallowing it, the bird struggling violently ; at each effort of deglutition the venomous 
fangs were seen to move forward. In this case the poison did not take such rapid effect, 
as the bird was evidently alive when it disappeared down the reptile's throat." 

The colour of the Water Viper is greenish brown, taking a yellowish tone along the 
sides, and banded with blackish brown. It seldom exceeds two feet in length. This 
serpent is also known by the popular names of COTTON-MOUTH and WATEE MOCASSIN 
SNAKE. The COPPER-HEAD SNAKE of the same country, (Cenchris contortrix) is closely 
allied to it. 

THE well-known and terrible RATTLESNAKE now comes before us. Two species of 
Serpents are popularly called by this name, both of which will be described. 

This dreaded reptile is a native of North America, and is remarkable for the singular 
termination to the tail, from which it derives its popular name. It has already been 
mentioned that the fer-de-lance has a long horny scale at the tip of its tail, and in the 
Rattlesnake this appendage is developed into a rather complicated apparatus of sound. 

At the extremity of the tail are a number of curious loose horny structures, formed 
of the same substance as the scales, and varying greatly in number according to the size 
of the individual. It is now generally considered that the number of joints on the 
"rattle " is an indication of the reptile's age, a fresh joint being gained each year 

RATTLESNAKE. Uropiophus durum*. 

immediately after it changes its skin and before it goes into winter quarters. There 
is, however, another opinion prevalent among the less educated, which gives to the 
Rattlesnake the vindictive spirit of the North American Indian, and asserts that it 
adds a new joint to its rattle whenever it has slain a human being, thus bearing on 
its tail the fearful trophies of its prowess, just as the Indians wear the scalps of their 
slain foes. 

The joints of this remarkable apparatus are arranged in a very curious manner, each 
being of a somewhat pyramidal shape, but rounded at the edges, and being slipped within 
its predecessor as far as a protuberant ring which runs round the edge. In fact, a very 
good idea of the structure of the rattle may be formed by slipping a number of thimbles 
loosely into each other. The last joint is smaller than the rest, and rounded. As was 
lately mentioned, the number of these joints is variable, but the average number is from 
five or six to fourteen or fifteen. There are occasional specimens found that possess more 
than twenty joints in the rattle, but such examples are very rare. 

When in repose, the Eattlesnake usually lies coiled in some suitable spot, with its head 
lying flat, and the tip of its tail elevated in the middle of the coil. Should it be irritatea 
by a passenger, or feel annoyed or alarmed, it instantly communicates a quivering move- 
ment to the tail, which causes the joints of the rattle to shake against each other, with a 
peculiar skirring ruffle, not easily described but never to be forgotten when once heard. 
All animals, even those which have never seen a Rattlesnake, tremble at this sound, and 
hy to get out of the way. Even a horse newly brought from Europe is just as frightened 
as the animal that has been bred in the same country with this dread Serpent, and at the 


sound of the rattle will prance, plunge, and snort in deadly fear, and cannot be induced to 
pass within striking distance of the angry Snake. 

It has already been mentioned that swine are comparatively indifferent to the Battle- 
snake, and will trample it to death and eat it afterwards. It is certain that they will 
eat a dead Rattlesnake, though almost any other animal will flee from the lifeless carcase 
nearly as swiftly as from the living reptile. Perhaps the thick coating of fat that clothes 
the body of the well-fed swine may neutralize the poison of the venomed teeth, and so 
enable the hog to receive the stroke with comparative impunity. The peccary is also said 
to kill and devour the Rattlesnake without injury, and deer are reported to jump upon it 
and kick its life out with their sharp hoofs. 

Fortunately for the human inhabitants of the same land, the Rattlesnake is slow and 
torpid in its movements, and seldom attempts to bite unless it is provoked, even suffering 
itself to be handled without avenging itself. Mr. Waterton tells me in connexion with 
these reptiles : " I never feared the bite of a Snake, relying entirely on my own movements. 
Thus, in presence of several professional gentlemen, I once transferred twenty-seven 
Rattlesnakes from one apartment to another, with my hand alone. They hissed and 
rattled when I meddled with them, but they did not offer to bite me." The fer-de-lance Snake 
is, as has already been mentioned, most fierce and irritable in character, taking the initiative, 
and attacking without reason. But the Rattlesnake always gives notice of its deadly 
intentions, and never strikes without going through the usual preliminaries. When about 
to inflict the fatal blow, the reptile seems to swell with anger, its throat dilating, and its 
whole body rising and sinking as if inflated by bellows. The tail is agitated with increasing 
vehemence, the rattle sounds its threatening war-note with sharper ruffle, the head becomes 
flattened as it is drawn back ready for the stroke, and the whole creature seems a very 
incarnation of deadly rage. Yet, even in such moments, if the intruder withdraw, the 
reptile will gradually lay aside its angry aspect, the coils settle down in their place, the 
flashing eyes lose their lustre, the rattle becomes stationary, and the Serpent sinks back 
into its previous state of lethargy. 

It is rather curious that the Rattlesnake varies much in its powers of venom and its 
irritability of temper according to the season of the year. During the months of spring it 
will seldom attempt to bite, and if it does strike a foe, the poison is comparatively mild 
in its effects. But after August, and before it seeks its winter quarters, the Rattlesnake is 
not only more fierce than at any other time of the year, but the venom seems to be of 
more fearful, intensity, inflicting wounds from which nothing escapes with life. 

The rapidity of the effects depends necessarily on the part which is bitten. Should 
the points of the teeth wound a moderately large vein or an artery, the venom courses 
swiftly through the blood, and the victim dies in a few minutes. But if, perchance, the 
tooth should pierce some fleshy and muscular part of the body, the poison does not have 
such rapid effect, and the injured person may be saved by the timely administration of 
powerful remedies. There seems, indeed, to be no one specific for the bite of this reptile, as 
the effects vary according to the individual who happens to be bitten, and the state of 
health in which the sufferer may be at the time. Immediate suction, however, and the 
unsparing use of the knife appear to be the most efficacious means of neutralizing the 
poison, and strong ammonia and oil have been employed with good results. Catesby, in 
writing about this reptile, remarks that he has known instances where death has occurred 
within two minutes after the infliction of the bite. 

The food of the Rattlesnake consists of rats, mice, reptiles, and small birds, the latter 
of which creatures it is said to obtain by the exercise of a mysterious power termed 
fascination, the victim being held, as it were, by the gaze of its destroyer, and compelled 
to remain in the same spot until the Serpent can approach sufficiently near to seize it. It 
is even said that the Rattlesnake can coil itself at the foot of a tree, and by the mere power 
of its gaze force a squirrel or bird to descend and fling itself into the open mouth waiting 
to receive it. 

These phenomena have been strongly asserted by persons who say that they have seen 
them, and are violently denied by other persons who have never witnessed the process, 
and therefore believe that the circumstances could not have happened. For my own part 


1 certainly incline to the theory of fascination, thinking that the power exists, and is 
occasionally employed, but under peculiar conditions. That any creature may be suddenly 
paralysed by fear at the sight of a deadly foe is too well known to require argument, and 
it is therefore highly probable that a bird or squirrel, which could easily escape from the 
Serpent's jaws by its superior agility, might be so struck with sudden dread on seeing its 
worst enemy that it would be unable to move until the reptile had seized it. 

Birds, especially, are most sensitive in their nature, and can be fascinated in a manner 
by any one who chooses to try the experiment. Let any bird be taken, laid on its back, 
and the finger pointed at its eyes. The whole frame of the creature will begin to stiffen, the 
legs will be drawn up, and if the hand be gently removed, the bird will lie motionless on 
its back for any length of time. I always employ this method of managing my canaries 
when I give them their periodical dressing of insect-destroying powder. I shake the 
powder well into their feathers, pour a small heap of it on a sheet of paper, lay the bird in 
the powder, hold my finger over its eyes for a moment, and leave it lying there while I 
catch and prepare another bird for the same process. There is another way of fascinating 
the bird, equally simple. Put it on a slate or dark board, draw a white chalk line on the 
board, set the bird longitudinally upon the line, put its beak on the white mark, and you 
may go away for hours, and when you return the bird will be found fixed in the same 
position, there held by some subtle and mysterious influence which is as yet unexplained. 

Thus far there is no difficulty in accepting the theory of fascination, but the idea of a 
moral compulsion on the part of the Snake, and a perforced obedience on the part of its 
victim, is so strange that it has met with very great incredulity. Still, although strange, 
it is not quite incredible. We all know how the immediate presence of danger causes a 
reckless desire to see and do the worst, regardless of the consequences, and heeding only 
the overpowering impulse that seems to move the body without the volition of the mind. 
There are many persons who cannot stand on any elevated spot without feeling so 
irresistible a desire of flinging themselves into the depths below, that they dare not even 
stand near an open window or walk near the edge of a cliff. It may be that the squirrel 
or bird, seeing its deadly enemy below, is so mentally overbalanced that it is forced to 
approach the foe against its own will, and is drawn nearer to those deadly fangs by the 
very same impulse that would urge a human being to jump over the edge of a precipice 
or from the top of a lofty building. 

Every squirrel or every bird may not succumb to the same influence, just as every 
human being does not yield to the insane desire of jumping from heights, and it is probable 
that a Eattlesnake may coil itself under a tree and look all day at the squirrels sporting 
upon the branches, or the birds flitting among the boughs, without inducing one of them 
to become an involuntary victim. Yet it is possible that out of the many hundreds that 
could see the Serpent, one would be weak-minded enough to yield to the subtle influence, 
and, instead of running away, find itself forced to approach nearer and nearer the fearful 

Some persons acknowledge the fact that the bird approaches the Snake, and is then 
snapped up, but explain it in a different manner. They say that the bird is engaged in 
mobbing or threatening the Snake, just as it might follow and buffet a hawk, an owl, or a 
raven, and in its eagerness approaches so closely that the Snake is able to secure it by a 
sudden dart. Such is very likely to be the case in many instances, as the little birds will 
often hover about a poisonous Snake, and, by their fluttering wings and shrieking cries, 
call attention to the venomous reptile. But the many descriptions of the fascinating 
process are too precise to allow of such a supposition in the particular instances which 
are mentioned. 

Even the common Snake of England can exercise a similar power. I have seen one 
of these Snakes in chase of a frog, and the intended victim, although a large and 
powerful specimen of its race, fully able to escape by a succession of leaps such as it 
would employ if chased by a human being, was only crawling slowly and painfully like 
a toad, its actions reminding one of those horrid visions of the night when the dreamer 
finds himself running or fighting for his life, and cannot move faster than a walk, or 


strike a blow that would break a cobweb. In such cases, the victim may bfe taken from 
the pursuer, but unless it is carried to a considerable distance, it will soon be in the jaws 
of the Serpent a second time. 

It is worthy of notice that in all such instances, a sudden sound will seem to break 
the spell and snap the invisible chain that binds the victim to its destroyer. If birds are 
spell-bound by finger or chalk line, as has already been described, a quick movement 01 
a heavy footstep will release them from their bonds, and a sudden shout will in a similar 
manner enable a. bird to break away from the Serpent into whose jaws it was on the point 
of falling. One of my friends when in Canada saw a little bird lying on the ground, 
fluttering about as if dusting itself, but in a rather strange manner, and on his nearer 
approach, a Snake glided from the spot, and the bird gathered its wings together and flew 
away. The Snake was one of the harmless kind, and being taken to the house of the 
person who had interrupted it in its meal, served to keep the premises clear of rats and 
mice. The Serpent is not the only creature to which this singular power is attributed, 
for the natives of Northern Africa assert that the lion is also gifted with this influence, 
and can induce certain hapless men and women to leave their homes and follow him into 
the woods. This, however, is only a popular tradition among the natives, and has met 
with no corroboration. 

The Rattlesnake retires to its winter quarters as soon as the increasing coldness of the 
weather gives it warning to seek a home where it can find protection against the frosts. 
Sometimes the Snake chooses a convenient hole or crevice for this purpose, but in general 
it prefers the neighbourhood of marshy ground, and harbours under the heavy masses of a 
certain long-stemmed moss (sphagnum palustre) which grows plentifully in such situations. 
In such localities the Rattlesnake may be found during the winter, either coiled up in 
masses containing six or seven individuals, or creeping slowly about beneath the 
protecting moss. Many of these fearful Snakes are killed during the cold mouths by 
persons who are acquainted with their habits, and surprise them in their winter quarters. 

The general colour of the Rattlesnake is pale brown. A dark streak runs along the 
temples from the back of the eye, and expands at the corner of the mouth into a large 
spot. A series of irregular dark brown bands are drawn across the back, a number of 
round spots of the same hue are scattered along the sides, upon the nape of the neck and 
back of the head. 

ANOTHER species of Rattlesnake which is known by the same title, is also common in 
North America. This is the CASCAVEL, or BANDED RATTLESNAKE (Ordtalus horridus), 
a reptile very similar in rattle and general habits to the preceding species, but dis- 
tinguishable by the colouring of the body. Like the common Rattlesnake, the ground 
colour of the body is brown, but there is a broad dark streak on each side of the neck, 
and the body is covered with oblique cross-bars which leave diamond-shaped spots. 

A THIRD species, the SMALL, or MILIARY RATTLESNAKE, (Crotalophorus milidris), is 
also well known in North America. 

This serpent is thought to be even more dangerous than either of the preceding 
reptiles, because its dimensions are so small that a passenger is liable to disturb it before 
he sees the deadly creature in his path, and the sound of the rattle is so feeble that it is 
inaudible at the distance of two or three paces, and can only be heard when special 
attention is paid to it. It is a prolific species, and still maintains its numbers, in spite 
of the constant persecution to which it is subjected. 

The food of the Miliary Rattlesnake consists of mice, frogs, insects, and similar 
creatures, which it mostly obtains by darting suddenly upon them as they pass near 
the spot where the reptile is lying. This serpent is fond of coiling itself on the 
fallen trunks of trees, decaying stumps, or similar situations. Fortunately, it is very 
easily killed, a smart blow dealing instant death even from a very small stick. The 
colour of this reptile is brownish olive, darker upon the cheeks, which are diversified by a 
narrow white streak from the back of the eye. A series of brown spots runs along the 
centre of the back, and the sides are ornamented with two rows of brown spots, each spot 
corresponding with a space in the other row. The abdomen is sooty black, marbled with 


a marker and rather more polished hue. An irregular dark brown band runs along each 
,/;ide of the nape and the crown of the head. 

/WE now come to the second great family of poisonous Serpents, namely the Vipers, or 
Viperidse. All the members of this family may be distinguished by the absence of the pit 
between the eyes and the nostrils. There are no teeth in the upper jaw except the two 

A rather celebrated species of these Snakes is the TIC-POLONGA or KATUKA (Ddboia 
elegans), a native of Asia, and perhaps of Brazil. This Serpent is much dreaded, its poison 
being of a very deadly character. A chicken that was bitten by a Tic-polonga died in 
thirty-six seconds, and a dog bitten by the same creature was dead in twenty-six minutes 
after receiving the injury. It is tolerably common in India and Ceylon, but is not so 
familiarly known as the cobra and other species, because it is not employed for public 
exhibition as is the case with those Serpents. 

Sir Emerson Tennent, in his well-known " Natural History of .Ceylon," writes thus of 
the Tic-polonga. "These formidable Serpents so infested the official residence of the 
District Judge of Trincomalie, in 1858, as to compel his family to abandon it. In another 
instance, a friend of mine, going hastily to take a supply of wafers from an open tin case 
which stood in his office, drew back his hand on fin ding the box occupied by a Tic-polonga 
coiled within it." 

The word Tic-polonga signifies Spotted-polonga, the latter word being a kind of generic 
title given by the natives to many Serpents, no less than eight species being classed under 
this common title. It is said that the Tic-polonga and the cobra bear a mortal hatred 
towards each other, and to say that two people hate each other like the Tic-polonga and 
cobra is equivalent to our proverb respecting the cat and dog. The Tic-polonga is said 
always to be the aggressor, to find the cobra in its hiding place, and to provoke it to fight. 
There are many native legends in Ceylon respecting the ferocity of this Snake. 

Its general colour is brown ; there are two dark brown spots on each side of the back 
of the head, and a yellow streak runs between them. Upon the bodv are three rows of 
oblong brown spots, edged with white. 

THE terrible PUFF ADDEE is closely allied to the preceding species. 

This reptile is a native of Southern Africa, and is one of the commonest, as well as one 
of the most deadly, of poisonous Snakes. It is slow and apparently torpid in all its 
movements, except when it is going to strike, and the colonists say that it is able to leap 
backwards so as to bite a person who is standing by its tail. Captain Drayson, E.A., who 
has seen much of this reptile and its habits, has kindly forwarded to me the following 
short account of this creature : 

"This formidable looking reptile is more dreaded than any other of the numerous 
poisonous Snakes in Africa, a fact which mainly results from its indolent nature. Whilst 
other and more active Snakes will move rapidly away upon the approach of man, the Puff 
Adder will frequently lie still, either too lazy to move, or dozing beneath the warm sun of 
the south. This reptile attains a length of four feet, or four feet six inches, and some 
specimens may be found even longer ; its circumference is as much as that of a man's arm. 
Its whole appearance is decidedly indicative of venom. Its broad ace-of-clubs-shaped 
head, its thick body, and suddenly tapered tail, and its chequered back, are all evidences 
of its poisonous nature. It derives its popular name from its practice of puffing out or 
swelling the body when irritated. 

^ In a country so infested with poisonous snakes as are some portions of South Africa, 
it is surprising that there are not more instances of lives having been lost by this means. 
It is, however, as rare to hear of a person having been bitten and dying from the bite of a 
poisonous Snake in South Africa as it is to hear of a death in England from the bite of a 
mad dog. The fact, however, is that all Snakes will, if possible, make their escape when 
man approaches them, and it is merely when they are trodden upon, or are oppressed by 
their own superabundant poison, that they are disposed to bite an animal unsuited for 
their food. 

PUFF AlJUfiK. Vlottw anelatut. 

An infuriated Puff Adder presents a very unprepossessing appearance. 1 once saw a 
female of this species in a most excited state. She had been disturbed in her retreat 
under an old stump by some Kaffirs, who were widening the highroad through the Berea 
bush at Natal. She had several young ones with her, and showed fight immediately she 
was discovered. The Kaffirs were determined to kill the whole family, but were fearful of 
approaching her. Happening to pass at the time of the discovery, I organized a ring, 
and, procuring some large stones, directed the Kaffirs to open fire. After a few minutes 
the excited lady was killed, and she and her young were carefully buried in a retired 
locality, lest some bare-footed Kaffir might tread upon her head, and thus meet 
his death." 

There is certainly in nature no more fearful an object than a full-grown Puff Adder 
The creature grovels on the sand, winding its body so as to bury itself almost wholly in 
the tawny soil, and just leaving its flat, cruel-looking head lying on the ground and free 
from sand. The steady, malignant, stony glare of those eyes is absolutely freezing as the 
creature lies motionless, confident in its deadly powers, and when roused by the approach 
of a passenger, merely exhibiting its annoyance by raising its head an inch or two, and 
uttering a sharp angry hiss. Even horses have been bitten by this reptile, and died within 
a few hours after the injury was inflicted. The peculiar attitude which is exhibited in 
the illustration is taken from life, one of the Puff Adders in the collection of the Zoological 
Society having been purposely irritated. In the background is seen another individual 
of the same species, as it usually lies, half-buried in the sandy soil. 

It is rather curious that the juice of tobacco is an instant poison to these creatures, even 
more suddenly deadly to them than their poison to the human beings who can absorb the 
tobacco juice with impunity. The Hottentots will often kill the Puff Adder by spitting in 
its face the juice of chewed tobacco, or making it bite the end of a stick which has been 
rubbed in the tobacco oil found in all pipes that have been long used without being 

The Bushmen are in the habit of procuring from the teeth of this serpent the poison 
with which they arm their tiny but most fearful arrows. In the capture of the Puff Adder 


they display very great courage and address. Taking advantage of the reptile's aluggish 
habits, they plant their bare feet upon its neck before it has quite made up its reptilian 
mind to action, and, holding it firmly down, cut off its head and extract the poison at their 
leisure. In order to make it adhesive to the arrow point, it is mixed with the glutinous 
juice of the amaryllis. 

There seems to be no certain remedies for the bite of the Puff Adder. Ammonia appears 
to be the least inefficacious substance for that purpose, and the natives occasionally attempt 
to heal the injury by splitting a living fowl across the breast, and applying the still- 
palpitating halves to the wound. There is a kind of seed called the " gentleman bean," 
which is said to have a beneficial effect. If one of these beans be placed on the recently 
inflicted wound, it adheres with great firmness, and is said to absorb the poison from the 
system, and to fall off as soon as this object is achieved. The Bushmen are in the habit 
of swallowing the poison whenever they kill a Puff Adder and do not need its venomous 
store for their arrows, hoping thereby to render themselves proof against its effects. When 
examined under the microscope, the poison resolves itself into minute crystalline spiculse, 
not unlike those of Epsom salts, which must be kept perfectly dry or they will soon vanish 
from the glass on which they are placed. 

The colour of the Puff Adder is brown, chequered with dark brown and white, and with 
a reddish band between the eyes. The under parts are paler than the upper. 

SEVEKAL other deadly serpents of the same country are closely allied to the puff 
adder. The first is the DAS ADDER or RIVER JACK (Clotho nasicornis) of the colonists, 
remarkable for the long curved horn or spine upon the nose, formed by the peculiar 
development of the scales over the nostril. This curious structure is only found in the 
male. In colour it is much darker than the puff adder, being black, marbled with a paler 
hue, and decorated with sundry lozenge-shaped spots along the back. 

The BERG ADDER (Clotho Atropos) is another of these fearful reptiles. As its name 
denotes, it is found more among the hills and stony ranges than on the plains, but is not 
unfrequently found upon the flats, and will sometimes intrude into very awkward positions, 
such as the floor of a hut, or even the bed upon which some wearied man is about to cast 
himself. It is not quite so poisonous as the puff adder, though its looks are quite as 
unprepossessing, and it never bites unless purposely irritated, or trodden upon. 

It is an ugly, thick-bodied, slow crawling creature, with a suddenly tapering tail and 
a most evil looking head. It is not a large reptile, its average length being about eighteen 
inches. Its colour is olive-grey, marbled on the sides, and decorated along the back with 
four rows of dark squared spots. 

YET one more species of this genus deserves a passing notice. This is the HORNED 
ADDER (Clotho cornuta], sometimes, but erroneously, called the Cerastes, a term that is 
rightly applied to another Serpent shortly to be described. It sometimes goes by the 
popular name of HORNSMAN. It derives its name of Horned Adder from the groups of 
little thread-like horns that are seen on the head, one group appearing above each eye. 
In some works of Natural History, it is called the PLUMED VIPER, in allusion to these 
curious groups. It is not very graceful in form, being decidedly short, squat, and puffy in 
shape, but is very prettily marked, its body being richly marbled with chestnut, covered 
with a multitude of minute dots, and variegated with four rows of dark spots along the 
back, two rows running on each side of the vertebral line. 

THE true CERASTES or HORNED VIPER is a native of Northern Africa, and divides with 
the cobra of the same country the questionable honour of being the "worm of Nile" to 
whose venomous tooth Cleopatra's death was due. 

The bite of this most ungainly looking Serpent is extremely dangerous, though, perhaps, 
not quite so deadly as that of the cobra, and the creature is therefore not quite so much 
dreaded as might be imagined. The Cerastes has a most curious appearance, owing to a 
rather large horn-like scale which projects over each eye, and which, according to the 



natives, is possessed of wonderful virtues. They fancy that one of the so-called horns 
contains the supply of poison for the teeth, and that the other, if pounded and the powder 
rubbed over the eyelids, will enable the fortunate experimenter to see all the wealth of the 
earth a privilege which, according to the peculiar cast of the Oriental mind, is of nearly 
as much value as the actual possession. The reader may remember a tale in the "Arabian 
Nights" in which a similar story is narrated. 

The Cerastes has, according to Bruce, an awkward habit of crawling until it is along- 
side of the creature whom it is about to attack, and then making a sidelong leap at its 
victim. He relates an instance where he saw a Cerastes perform a certainly curious feat. 
" I saw one of them at Cairo crawl up the side of a box in which there were many, and there 
lie still as if hiding himself, till one of the people who brought them to us came near him, 
and though in a very disadvantageous position, sticking, as it were, perpendicularly to the 
side of the box, he leaped near the distance of three feet, and fastened between the man's 
forefinger and thumb, so as to bring the blood." 


The man who was thus bitten happened to be one of the men who profess Serpent 
charming, and avow themselves to be proof against the bite of any poisonous Snake. In 
this instance no ill effects followed the hurt, although Bruce proved that the poison-fangs 
had not been extracted, by making the reptile bite a pelican, which died in about thirteen 
minutes. Some persons have suggested that in this, as well as in other similar instances, 
the man was a clever juggler, who substituted a really venomous specimen for a Snake 
whose poison-fangs had been extracted. But in any case it would be necessary to handle 
the really poisonous reptile for the purpose of effecting the exchange, and, in my opinion, 
the necessarily rough handling of the creature would be a matter of no small danger. 
Bruce enters into this subject at some length, and records the result of a long series of 
experiments in a form which, though very interesting, is now so familiar as to need 
no quotation. 

That in many instances the poison-teeth of venomous Serpents have been extracted, in 
order to allow the performer to play his tricks with them without harm, is very well 
known, but the fact of acknowledged and detected imposture does not invalidate the reality 
which is clumsily imitated by pretenders, any more than a forgery disproves the existence 
of a genuine document. More will be said on this subject when we come to the different 
species of cobra. 


The Cerastes usually lives in the driest and hottest parts of Northern Africa, and lies 
half-buried in the sand until its prey should come within reach. Like many SerpentSj 
it can endure a very prolonged frost without appearing to suffer any inconvenience ; those 
kept by Bruce lived for two years in a glass jar without partaking of food, and seemed 
perfectly brisk and lively, casting their skins as usual, and not even becoming torpid 
during the winter. 

The colour of the Cerastes is pale brownish white, covered irregularly with brown 
spots. Its length is about two feet. 

PASSING to another genus of venomous Snakes, we come to a rather pretty little 
Serpent, an inhabitant of India, and called by the natives HOEATTA PAM (Echis carindta}. 
it is said to be very dangerous in spite of its small dimensions, and to require a double 
dose of Serpent medicine in order to counteract the effects of its poison. Its colour is 
greyish brown, darkening into rather deep brown on the head, and variegated with angular 
white streaks on the body, and large oblong spots on the head, edged with a deeper hue. 
Its length is about fifteen or sixteen inches. 

THE common ASP or CHERS.EA ( Vipera aspis) is nearly allied to the preceding species. 

This Snake is common in many parts of Europe, and is plentiful in Sweden and the 
neighbouring countries, besides being distributed over nearly the whole continent. It is 
much dreaded, and with reason, for its bite is very severe, and in some cases will cause 
death. As is the case with other venomous reptiles, the Asp is most dangerous during 
the hottest months of the year, and it has well been remarked that there is probably some 
connexion between the electrical state of the atmosphere, and the venom of Serpents, as 
the poison is always most deadly and the creatures most fierce when the electrical condj 
tions of the atmosphere are disturbed, and the thunder-clouds are flying quickly through 
the air. When a person is bitten in one of his limbs, he quickly digs a hole and buries the 
injured part below the surface of the earth, as the fresh mould is thought to be very 
efficacious in alleviating the ill effects of the poison. Should the injury be in a toe or a 
finger, the rougher but more effectual remedy of instant amputation is generally employed. 

The colour of this reptile is olive above, with four rows of black spots. The two middle 
rows are often placed so closely together, that they coalesce and form a continuous chain 
of black spots along the spine, very like the well-known markings of the common viper. 

ANOTHER venomous Snake, the AMMODYTE or SAND-NATTER (Vipera Ammodytes)* 
belongs to the same genus as the asp. 

This reptile inhabits southern Europe, and is generally found in rocky localities. The 
bite of this creature is very dangerous, and the remedies employed are generally of little 
efficacy. Enlarging the wound with a thorn, and squeezing a garlic upon the part bitten, 
is the general mode of alleviating the pain, but is of little use to the injured person. Its 
colour is olive above, with a broad oblique dark streak on each temple, two similar streaks 
on each side of the head, and a wavy dark line along the crown of the spine. 

THE common VIPER, or ADDER, is very well known in many parts of England, but in 
some localities is very plentiful, while in others it is never seen from one year's end to 

Many persons mistake the common grass Snake for the Viper, and dread it accordingly. 
They may, however, always distinguish the poisonous reptile from the innocuous, by the 
chain of dark spots that runs along the spine, and forms an unfailing guide to its identifi- 
cation. Fortunately for ourselves, it is the only poisonous reptile inhabiting England, the 
variously-coloured specimens being nothing more than varieties of the same species. 

Like most reptiles, whether poisonous or not, the Viper is a very timid creature, 
always preferring to glide away from a foe rather than to attack, and only biting when 
driven to do so under great provocation. 

The following interesting account of a Viper's bite and its consequences, has been 
kindly forwarded to me by Mr. W. C. Coleman : 


" Several years ago, in my school-boy days, I had an experience with a Viper, which 
may possibly interest such of your readers as have not enjoyed a similar intimacy with 
the creature, especially as it places the Viper character in a somewhat more amiable light 
than it is usually represented. 

One cold damp day in the beginning of May, I was out in the country on a foraging 
expedition ; birds' nests and objects of natural history in general being the objects of 
search. Entering, in the course of exploration, a likely coppice, I descried a blackbird's 
nest perched among some tangled stems of underwood three or four feet from the ground. 
A glance at the interior, however, soon showed that some other marauder had forestalled 
me, as the sole occupants of the nest were some crushed and empty egg-shells, and scanty 
remains of the fluid contents spilt about. " A weasel," thought I, but wrongfully, as it 
happened, for on turning away in dudgeon, a rustling movement among the herbage on 
the ground a couple of yards off, attracted my eyes and ears ; and there I saw tin 1 
undoubted spoiler of the nest, a large Viper, moving away briskly with his tail in tli 
direction of the nest. 


VIPER, OK ADDER. 1'elHu Berus. 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and my slight natural history reading, 
assisted by bad engravings, had helped me to fancy that I knew the Viper from the 
common Snake well enough ; and so, deciding that this was only a common harmless 
Snake, I made a plunge at the creature and apprehended him with my unprotected hand. 
Eeceiving no bite, I was now confirmed in my idea of the beast's perfect innocence 
(except in the bird's-nest matter), and decided on adopting him as a pet So presently set 
off home, a distance of more than two miles, taking my serpentine friend in my hand. Not 
always in my hand, however, for to beguile the homeward journey I proceeded to try 
sundry experiments on the supple backbone and easy temper of the animal, occasionally 
tying him round my neck, and so wearing him for a considerable distance ; then twining 
him round my wrist into a fancy bracelet, and weaving him into various knots and devices 
according to taste, all this with perfect impunity on my part, and the utmost apparent 
good humour on his. 

On the road, a kind farmer of my acquaintance, whose natural history lore was more 
practical than my own, endeavoured to convince me that I was ' harbouring a Viper in 
my bosom,' but I was not going to hear my good-tempered playmate called bad names ; 
put my finger into the Adder's very mouth to prove he had no idea of biting, and so 
passed on, in much conceit with myself as an accomplished herpetologist. 


We thus reached home in perfect safety and amity. My brothers and sisters greeted 
the stranger with some little instinctive horror at first, but got over that feeling when they 
heard of his innocent nature and amusing capabilities, in proof of which I repeated the 
necktie experiment, &c. About this stage, however, I must mention that he exhibited a 
somewhat unpleasant phenomenon common to the Snake tribe in general, who can relieve 
themselves of the torpor consequent on a heavy meal, by disgorging the same when 
irritated and requiring restoration of their usual activity. The rejectamenta in this case 
consisted of portions of unhatched young birds, thus confirming the nest robbery. 

Being thus lightened, and perhaps stimulated by the warmth of a fire in the room, he 
was now li vely enough, unhappily for me, for on essaying to continue my experiments, by 
tying him into a double knot, his endurance was at an end ; one dart at my finger and a 
sharp puncture told me that the thing was done. Then, too late, I recollected that the 
' Adder is distinguished by a zigzag chain of dark markings down the back,' and sure 
enough the vile creature before me had those very marks. In a rage, I battered his life 
out with a stick, lest he should do more damage, and then settled down to watch the 
progress of the poison within my system. 

It was not slow to take effect ; first the wound looked and felt like a nettle sting, then 
like a wasp sting, and in the course of a few minutes the whole joint was swollen, with 
much pain. At this juncture my father, a medical man, arrived from a country journey, 
and set the approved antidotes to work, ammonia, oil, and lunar caustic, to the wound, 
having previously made incisions about the punctured spot, and with paternal affection 
attempted to draw out the poison 1 y suction ; but nothing availed, and all sorts of horrid 
symptoms set in, fainting, sickness, delirium, and fever ; the hand and whole arm to the 
shoulder greatly swollen and discoloured, with most intense pain. This state of things 
lasted for several days. I forget the exact time, but I was not fully restored for more 
than a fortnight after the bite. 

Since that day I have taken care to put my acquaintance with Serpents on such a 
footing as to be able at a glance to tell the species of any of our three English Snakes ; a 
piece of useful knowledge most easily gained, and well worth the acquirement." 

It was a most providential circumstance that the reptile did not bite him immediately 
after its capture, and that the wound was inflicted on the finger and not on the neck, 
as in the one case he could hardly have reached his home, and in the other, the great 
swelling might have caused suffocation, as is known to be the case with persons bitten in 
the neck by other poisonous Serpents. 

A FEW words will not be out of place respecting the alleged capability of the Viper of 
receiving its progeny into its mouth when in danger. 

A long-standing controversy on this subject has elicited a vast amount of corre- 
spondence, the whole of which seems to resolve itself into two divisions, namely, 
communications from a great number of persons who assert that they have seen the 
young Vipers crawl into their parent's open mouth, and letters from two or three 
persons who say that they did not do so, because such a proceeding is impossible, and 
contrary to the laws of nature. 

One of the most learned of the objectors remarks, that no amount, of testimony can 
prevail against reason, and that the persons who assert that they have seen the young 
Vipers crawl into their mother's mouth, have fallen into the dangerous fallacy of believing 
what they saw. Now this argument, novel though it may be to the scientific world in 
general, is perfectly familiar to theologians as being the sheet-anchor of a certain school 
of controversialists, who deny the credibility of the miraculous events narrated ii? 
the Scriptures. It has been repeatedly exploded in polemical controversy, and long 
abandoned by impartial thinkers, inasmuch as it assumes a knowledge of all the laws 
of nature, and contracts the power of the Divine Creator of the Universe within the 
narrow limits of the individual idiosyncracy and mental capacities of the disputant. 

It has ever been conceded that, in all ages, the testimony of credible witnesses has 
been the surest mode of confuting false reasoning and thereby eliciting truth ; so that 
when any unprejudiced reasoner finds that a favourite theory is contradicted by the 


testimony of even one trustworthy observer, much more when the united accounts of 
many competent judges all tend to the same point, he feels that it is time for him to 
reflect whether, however perfect may be the form of his syllogism, there may not be 
something wrong with his premises. Eeasoning is more liable to falsity than the senses 
to deception. It is easy enough to talk of a flagrant violation of the laws of nature, but 
before we venture to do so it is as well to be quite certain that we are sure of the full 
extent of those laws. Who is there, even among the most learned, that can define the 
full working of even a single known law and its ever-varying action tinder different 
circumstances ? And who can venture to say that some hitherto unrecognised law may 
not be in existence, which, if known and acknowledged, would account for the circum- 
stances which at present seem so unaccountable ? 

In the second place, if we are not to depend upon the testimony of our acknowledged 
senses, on what are we to depend for the whole of natural philosophy, astronomy, or, 
indeed, any other established science ? It is simply on the testimony of our senses that all 
existing sciences are founded, and even analogous reasoning is not admitted as valid proof 
of an asserted fact. There is hardly any new discovery which does not destroy some old 
and respectable theory, and give entirely a new idea of the law of nature on which it 

The operation of the senses is in itself one of the known laws of nature, by which 
we discover facts and through which we are enabled to exercise our reasoning faculties. 
A human being without the senses of sight, hearing, and touch, would be the dullest 
animal on the face of the earth, and as long as the privation lasted, would hold a lower 
place than a sponge or a medusa. If we once acknowledge that the evidence of the 
senses is not to be believed, we must reject the whole of the physical sciences. Astrono- 
mical observations, chemical experiments, geological surveys, anatomical researches, and 
the whole of natural histoiy, must be at once thrown aside if such a theory is to be 
consistently carried out ; and for the same reason, the courts of law must be abolished, 
depending as they do on the personal observations of human beings, mostly illiterate, 
and often ignorant to a degree. Eepeated observations are the only method of ascertaining 
the laws of nature, and if they show that certain events, however strange they may 
appear, have really occurred, they surely prove, not that the senses of the witnesses were 
deceived, but that another law of nature has been discovered. 

Were the Viper the only creature of whom such an act is related, the phenomenon 
would be less worthy of belief ; but there is hardly a poisonous Snake of any country by 
whom the same act is not said to be performed, the narrators not being professed natura- 
lists with a theory, but travellers, hunters, and settlers, casually noting the result of their 
personal experience, I cannot but think that the accumulated testimony of many trust- 
worthy persons, acting independently of each other, accustomed to observation, and 
mostly unaware of the importance that would be afterwards attached to their words, is 
entitled to some respect, and affords legitimate grounds to the truth-seeker, not for con- 
temptuous denial, but for further investigation. 

Several observant inhabitants of the Forest of Dean assert that both sexes assume 
this protective habit, the male as well as the female receiving the young into the mouth 
in cases of sudden danger. In those localities, the head of the Viper is always chopped 
off as soon as the reptile is killed, and the Viper-catchers say that in such cases the young 
Vipers frequently are seen crawling out of the severed neck. 

I certainly never saw the Viper act in this manner, but I have had very few opportu- 
nities of watching this reptile in a wild state and noting its habits ; whereas those who 
spend their lives in the forests, and especially those men who add to their income by 
catching or killing these reptiles, speak of the reception of the young into the mouth ol 
the parent, as a fact too well known to be disputed. 

It has been objected that the young would be consumed by the gastric juice of the 
parent one of the most sensible objections that has been made. But this assertion has 
been invalidated by the researches of able anatomists and experimentalists, such as 
Mr. F. T. Buckland, &c., who have discovered, by careful dissection, two facts ; the one, 
that the young may be concealed within the expansile body of the parent without 


entering the true stomach at all, the oesophagus or gullet forming a highly expansile 
antechamber between the throat and the actual stomach ; and the other, that if they 
should happen to do so, the gastric juice would not hurt them. Incredible, therefore, 
as the possibility of such an act may seem, it can but be acknowledged that the weight 
of practical testimony is wholly in its favour. Moreover, the various suggestions offered 
to account for the deception practised by the Viper upon the eyes of observers, just as if 
it had been a professed conjurer performing before an audience, are really puerile in the 
faxtreme, and if they happen to affect the written testimony of one person, they are con- 
tradicted by the written testimony of another. It is to be hoped that if the Viper really 
does act in the manner stated, a specimen may be obtained with the young still within 
ner body, and attested in such a manner that no objector may invalidate the proof 
oy saying that the old one had been captured and the young pushed down her throat 
oy force. 

The head of the Viper affords a very good example of the venomous apparatus of the 
poisonous Serpents, and is well worthy of dissection, which is better accomplished under 
water than in air. The poison-fangs lie on the sides of the upper jaw, folded back and 
almost undistinguishable until lifted with a needle. They are singularly fine and delicate, 
hardly larger than a lady's needle, and are covered almost to their tips with a muscular 
envelope through which the points just peer. The poison-secreting glands and the 
reservoir in which the venom is stored, are found at the back and sides of the head, and 
give to the venomous Serpents that peculiar width of head which is so unfailing a charac- 
teristic. The colour of the poison is a very pale yellow, and its consistence is very like 
that of salad oil, which, indeed, it much resembles both in look and taste. There is but 
little in each individual, and it is possible that the superior power of the larger venomous 
Snakes of other lands, especially those under the tropics, may be due as much to its 
quantity as its absolute intensity. In a full-grown rattlesnake, for example, there are six or 
eight drops of this poison, whereas the Viper has hardly a twentieth part of that amount. 

On examining carefully the poison-fangs of a Viper, the structure by which the venom 
is injected into the wound will be easily understood. On removing the lower jaw, the two 
fangs are seen in the upper jaw, folded down in a kind of groove between the teeth of the 
palate and the skin of the head, so as to allow any food to slide over them without being 
pierced by their points. The ends of the teeth reach about halfway from the nose to the 
angle of the jaw, just behind the corner of the eye. 

Only the tips of the fangs are seen, and they glisten bright, smooth and translucent, as 
if they were curved needles made from isinglass, and almost as fine as a bee's sting. On 
raising them with a needle or the point of the forceps, a large mass of muscular tissue 
comes into view, enveloping the tooth for the greater part of its length, and being, in fact, 
the means by which the fang is elevated or depressed. When the creature draws back its 
head and opens its mouth to strike, the depressing muscles are relaxed, the opposite series 
are contracted, and the two deadly fangs spring up with their points ready for action. It 
is needful while dissecting the head to be exceedingly careful, as the fangs are so sharp 
that they penetrate the skin with a very slight touch, and their poisonous distilment does 
not lose its potency even after the lapse of time. 

The next process is to remove one of the teeth, place it under a tolerably good magnifier 
and examine its structure, when it will be seen to be hollow, and, as it were, perforated by 
a channel. This channel is however seen, on closer examination, to be formed by a groove 
along the tooth, which is closed except at the one end whence the poison exudes, and the 
other at which it enters the tooth. If the tooth be carefully removed, and the fleshy 
substance pushed away from its root, the entrance can be seen quite plainly by the aid of 
a pocket lens. The external aperture is in the form of a very narrow slit upon the concave 
side of the fang, so very narrow, indeed, that it seems too small for the passage of any liquid. 

There are generally several of the fangs in each jaw, lying one below the other in 
regular succession. From the specimen which has just been described, I removed foui 
teeth on each side, varying in length from half to one-eighth the dimensions of the poison- 

DEATH ADDER. Acanthophis antdretlca. 

The Viper seems to be well aware of the power of its fangs, and to discriminate between 
animate and inanimate antagonists. I have tried in vain to make a Viper bite a stick with 
which I was irritating it, but no sooner did a kitten approach than the reptile drew back 
its head, and made its lightning-like dart at the little creature with such rapidity, that it 
would have gained its point had not its back been so much injured as to deprive it of its 
natural powers. 

The ordinary food of the Viper is much the same as that of the common Snake, and 
consists of mice, birds, frogs, and similar creatures. It is, however, less partial to frogs 
than the common Snake, and seems to prefer the smaller mammalia to any other prey. 
The young of the Viper enter the world in a living state, having been hatched just before 
they are born. The fat of the Viper was once in high estimation as a drug, and the older 
apothecaries were accustomed to purchase these reptiles in considerable numbers. Even 
now this substance is in some repute in many agricultural districts, being employed as a 
remedy for cuts, sprains or bruises, and especially as a means of alleviating the painful 
symptoms of a Viper's bite. 

The colour of the Viper is rather variable, but the series of very dark marks down the 
back is an unfailing sign of the species, and is permanent in all the varieties. Generally 
the ground colour is greyish olive, brown, or brownish yellow ; along the back runs a chain 
of zigzag blackish markings, and a series of little triangular spots is found upon each side. 
The largest specimen I have yet seen in a wild state was one of the yellow varieties. 
Sometimes the ground is brick-red, and now and then a nearly black specimen is found. 
Mr. Bell mentions an example where the ground colour was greyish white, and the 
markings jetty black. 

THE reptile that is called by the significant title of DEATH ADDEE, or DEATH VIPEB, is 
a native of Australia, where its poisonous fangs render it an object of much fear. A very 
excellent, though short description of this Snake, is given by Mr. Bennett in his " Wan- 
derings in New South Wales." 

* The most deadly Snake in appearance, and I believe also in effect, is one of hideous 


aspect, called by the colonists the Death Adder, and by the Yas natives ' Tammin,' from 
having a small curved process at the extremity of the tail ; or, more correctly, the tail 
terminating suddenly in a small curved extremity, bearing some resemblance to a sting; it 
is considered by popular rumour to inflict a deadly sting with it. 

This hideous reptile is thick in proportion to its length ; the eye is vivid yellow, with 
a black longitudinal pupil. The colour of the body is difficult to be described, being a 
complication of dull colours, with narrow, blackish bands shaded off into the colours which 
compose the back ; abdomen slightly tinged with red ; head broad, thick, and flattened. 
The specimen I examined measured two feet two inches in length, and five inches in 
circumference. A dog that was bitten by one died in less than an hour. The specimen 
I examined was found coiled up near the banks of the Murrumbidgee river ; and being of 
a torpid disposition, did not move when approached, but quietly reposed in the pathway, 
with its head turned beneath its belly." 

The generic title of Acanthophis, or Thorny-Snake, is given to this species on account 
of the structure of the tail, which is furnished at its extremity with a recurved horny 

WE now arrive at a very remarkable family of Snakes, which pass their lives in 
water, either fresh or salt, and are river or sea Serpents as the case may be. In order to 
enable them to pass through the waters without injury to the organs of respiration, the 
nostrils are furnished with a valve so as to prevent the ingress of water while the creature 
is below the surface. 

A good example of these marine Serpents is tne BLACK-BACKED PELAMTS (Pelamis 
bicolor), the Nalla Whallagee Pam of the Indian fishermen. This Snake is found only 
at sea, and is said seldom if ever to approach the shore, except for the purpose of 
depositing its eggs, which are laid on the beach sufficiently near high-water mark for the 
young Snakes to seek their congenial element as soon as they are hatched. The Black- 
backed Pelamis is frequently found sleeping on the surface of the sea, and is then caught 
without much difficulty, as it is forced to throw itself on its back before it can dive. It 
has been suggested that this movement is intended to expel the air in the ample lungs. 
Sometimes it is unwillingly captured by the fishermen in their nets, and is an object of 
considerable dread to them on account of the formidable character of its teeth. In 
these Serpents the fangs are but little larger than the other teeth of the jaw, but 
can be distinguished by their slightly superior size and the groove that runs along their 
front edge. 

In this, as in many other species of water Snake, the tail is flattened, or rather 
compressed, for a considerable portion of its length, and forms a powerful organ of 
propulsion. The colour of this species is black above and yellow below and on the flanks. 
The upper lip is also yellow, and the tail is of the same hue, variegated with black on 
the edges and spotted with black on the sides. Its average length is rather less than 
one yard. 

The SHOOTER SUN (Hl/drophis obscura) is another of the sea Serpents. This reptile 
is also one of the Indian species and inhabits the sea or the saline waters of the river- 
mouths, not being able to exist in fresh water. It is an admirable swimmer, but is very 
awkward on dry land, and cannot survive for any length of time unless it has access to 
salt water. The outline of this Serpent is most remarkable. The head and neck are 
almost absurdly minute in proportion to the wide thick body, bearing about the same 
proportion as the tip of the little finger does to the wrist. The tail is also very wide, 
extremely blunt, and compressed. 

The markings of this reptile are rather curious. The ground colour is black. There 
is a large yellow spot on each side of the head, a series of pale grey-brown spots runs on 
each side of the neck, and a row of large rounded white marks is arranged along the back 
so as to form a richly variegated pattern of boldly contrasted colours. 

The CHITTUL (Hydrophis sublcevis) is another of these marine Snakes, and is found 
in India and Ceylon. It is rather a large species, sometimes exceeding five feet in length 

I 2 


<tnd is handsomely coloured. It is extremely venomous, a fowl that had been bitten 
by a Chittul dying within five minutes after receiving the injury. The ground colour of 
this Snake is yellow, and the body is covered with an irregular row of black rings. Some 
black bands also cross the neck 

In the ACKOCHOEDE, sometimes called the Oular Carron, the tail, instead of being 
flattened, is rounded, conical, and very short, diminishing in diameter in a very sudden 
manner. It is a native of Java, and is said to be wholly vegetarian in its diet, the 
stomach having been found to contain nothing but half-digested fruit. The flesh of the 
Acrochorde is said to be excellent. 

Upon the head are a number of little scales, each of which is divided into three 
ridges. The creature is in the habit of distending its body with air to a very great 
extent, and when it so acts, the scales separate from each other and make the head and 
body look as if they were covered with tubercles. The general colour is brown in the 
adult, and brown banded and streaked with a darker hue in the young. 

The CHERSYDEUS (Chersydrus granuldtus) is a rather curious aquatic Serpent, found in 
Asia and most common in Java. It is sometimes called the Banded Acrochorde, but 
wrongly so, as its tail, instead of being round and conical, is flat, compressed, and sword- 
like in shape. It inhabits the bottoms of marine creeks and the mouths of rivers. The 
Javanese call it Oular Limpe. The body of this reptile is covered with small scales, each 
boldly keeled in the centre, and its colour is black and white arranged in alternate rings. 

The EEPETON, or HEEPETON as the name is sometimes written, is a truly curious 
reptile, of no great size, but bearing a pair of appendages on the head that seem to serve 
no recognised purpose save to bewilder zoologists. The muzzle of this creature is covered 
with scales, and on each side of it rises the curious appendage which is seen in the 
illustration. This remarkable organ is soft, but completely covered with scales and 
defended by them. Of its habits nothing appears to be known, and even its country in 
dubious. Its colour is pale brown streaked with white. 

KHPMTON. Brpeton 

THE sombre and rather unsightly CERBERUS, better known by its native name of 
KAROO BOKADAM, is an Asiatic reptile, being found in India, the Philippines, Ceylon, 
Borneo, and similar countries. It is an ugly looking Serpent, but is not much dreaded, 
and is thought to be practically non-venomous. It is a stout, thick-bodied Snake, with 
a very large head in proportion to the size of its neck, though small in comparison with 
the body. The mouth is not large, and the teeth are small, regular, and set rather closely 
together. The nostrils of this Serpent are very small, and placed close to each other 
almost on the very tip of the muzzle. The eyes are small, round, and projecting as if 
squeezed out of the head, and are surrounded by a curious circle of nearly triangular 
scales, much as a circular window in a brick wall is edged with wedge-shaped bricks. 

The general colour of this Serpent is greyish brown above, covered with narrow bands 
of black set rather closely together. The abdomen is black mottled with yellow, the 
sides are white with spots of pale brown, and the lips and throat are of the same tint but 
spotted with black. The tail is nearly black. The usual length of this Serpent is about 
three feet six inches. 

WE now arrive at a very important family of serpents, including the largest 
species found in the order. These Snakes are known by the popular title of Boas, and 
scientifically as Boidse, and are all remarkable, not only for their great size and curious 
mode of taking their prey, but for the partial development of the hinder limbs, which 
are externally visible as a pair of horny spurs, set one on each side at the base of the 
tail, and moderately well developed under the skin, consisting of several bones jointed 
together. In most of the species the tail is rather short and strongly prehensile. The 
peculiar habits of these enormous Snakes will be mentioned in connexion with the 
various species. The first of these creatures is the DIAMOND SNAKE of Australia, 
(Morelia spilotes), a very handsome species and tolerably common. It is called the 
Diamond Snake on account of the pattern of the colours, which are generally blue, 
black, and yellow, arranged so as to produce a series of diamonds along the back. The 
CARPET SNAKE (Morelia variegata), of the same countrv is closely allied to it. Both 
these reptiles are variable in their colouring. 

KAROO BOKADAM. Cerberus cinfnut. 

THE members of the restricted genus PYTHON are remarkable for their habit of 
depositing the eggs together and coiling their bodies round them, so as to form a large 
conical heap. The common grass Snake of England is said to perform the same feat. 
The true Pythons are inhabitants of Asia, and are generally found in India. The 
common EOCK SNAKE of India (Python moltirus), is a good example of this genus. 
The natives believe that the little spurs are useful in fighting, and therefore cut them 
off whenever they capture the reptile. It is the Pedda-Poda of the Hindoos. It is not 
one of the largest of its kind, usually attaining a length of ten or eleven feet, and not 
being held in much dread. A fowl that was inclosed in a cage with one of these 
serpents, soon obtained the mastery over her terrible companion, and was seen quietly 
pecking at its head. 

One of these reptiles that was kept at the gardens of the Zoological Society, once 
made a curious mistake while being fed, and had well-nigh sacrificed the life of its 
keeper. The man had approached the reptile with a fowl in his hand and presented it 
as usual to the Snake. The Serpent darted at the bird, but as it was just then shedding 
its skin and nearly blind, it missed its aim, and instead of seizing the bird, grasped the 
keeper's left thumb, and instinctively flung its coils around his arms and neck, as is 
customary when the animal seized is of considerable size. 

The keeper tried to force the Snake's head from its hold, but could not reach it as he 
was bound in the folds of the Snake. He then cast himself on the ground in order to 
battle to the greatest advantage, but would probably have succumbed to the fearful 
pressure, had not two keepers providentially entered the room, and by breaking away the 
Serpent's teeth released the man from his terrible assailant. Except the fright and a few 
wounds from the serpent's teeth, no evil results ensued. 

ANOTHER species of Indian Rock Snake, called by the natives ULAR SAWA (Hypsirhina 
der), is tolerably common, and in its habits resembles the preceding species. It often 
attains to a very considerable size, and is said when full-grown to be about thirty feet in 
length. This terrible Snake has been known to kill mankind, crushing the body in its 


NATAL ROCK SNAKE. Eoriulia Natalensw. 

numerous folds until nearly every bone was broken. In one such instance, the man 
had been caught by the right, wrist, as was seen by the marks of the Serpent's teeth. 

The handsome NATAL ROCK SNAKE, or POET NATAL PYTHON, as it is sometimes called, 
now comes under our notice. It is a fine, handsome species, sometimes attaining a great 
length, and being most beautifully coloured. During life and when in full health and in 
the enjoyment of liberty, this, in common with many other Snakes, has a beautiful rich 
bloom upon its scales, not unlike the purple bloom of a plum or grape. Should, how- 
ever, the Snake be in ill health, this bloom fades away, and in consequence, we seldom 
if ever see it on the scales of the Serpents which have been brought to England, and are 
kept in glass-fronted cases in lieu of the wide desert, and only a blanket to creep into 
instead of the rocky crevices of their native country. 

The dimensions of this reptile are often very great. Dr. A. Smith has seen a specimen 
measuring twenty-five feet in length, exclusive of a portion of the tail which was missing. 
Flat skins of this creature are, however, very deceptive, and cannot be relied upon, as 
they stretch almost as readily as India-rubber, and during the process of drying are 
often extended several feet beyond the length which they occupied while surrounding the 
body of their quondam owner. 

The teeth of this Serpent are tolerably large, but not venomous, and although of no 
insignificant size, are really of small dimensions when compared with the size and weight 
of their owner. Few persons have any idea of the exceeding heaviness of a large Snake, 
and unless the reptile has been fairly lifted and carried about, its easy gliding movements 
have the effect of making it appear as if it were as light as it is graceful. 


Both jaws are thickly studded with these teeth, and their use is to seize the prey and 
hold it while the huge folds of the body are flung round the victim, and its life crushed 
out of its frame by the contracting coils. In order to secure its prey, the Eoek Snake acts 
after the manner of all this family. It waits in some spot where it knows that its victim 
will pass, coils its tail round some object, such as a tree or a stone, so as to give it a firm 
hold, .and then, rapidly darting at the prey, it draws back its head, carrying the poor victim 
into the fatal grasp of its folds. It usually seizes by the throat, and retains its hold until 
the crushed animal is quite dead. 

The following interesting account of the Rock Snake of Natal has been kindly forwarded 
to me by Captain Drayson, E.A. : 

" The Rock Snake is somewhat rare, even in the least populous districts, and, in 
consequence of its retired habits and silent method of moving, it is not frequently seen. 
Although on an average I traversed the forests and plains near my various stations at least 
five times a week, I saw but seven Rock Snakes during a period of nearly three years. This 
Snake retreats into rocky crevices, or amongst the most tangled brushwood, after it has 
devoured its prey, which consists of toads, frogs, lizards, such as guanas, &c., birds of any 
size, and even small bucks. Its bite is quite harmless compared to that of the poisonous 
Snakes, and it destroys its victims by pressure. 

So cautious is this Snake to remain quite quiet if it think itself unseen, that on one 
occasion I nearly rode over a rather large Boa, which lay on a small path along which I 
was riding. On each side of this path there was a dense jungle, and there was merely 
room for one animal to travel along it. I happened to ' pull up ' my pony to examine the 
surrounding bush, when I noticed that his erected ears indicated that he had seen game, 
he being a most accomplished shooting pony. Upon looking on the path before me I 
observed a very large Snake, lying perfectly still, and looking at me in a very suspicious 
manner. The reptile being partly concealed by the long grass I could not see whether or 
not it was a poisonous snake, so I quietly ' reined back ' about a yard, and shot the creature 
through the body. The coils and contortions were something terrific to see, as the monster 
fought hard for his life ; but even the bone and muscle of a Boa has but a poor chance 
against gunpowder and lead. A charge of buck shot in the head settled the business, and 
cleared the path of a very disagreeable vis-a-vis. This Snake measured about sixteen feet 
in length, and was in very fair condition, having a fine bloom on his skin. He had resided 
about a hundred yards from a long vlei (lagoon), in which frogs and lizards abounded. 

A much larger Rock Snake was shot by me some time after this, and measured upwards 
of seven yards. I once had an opportunity which rarely occurs to Englishmen, viz. 
that of trying my speed with a young Boa constrictor. Upon returning from shooting one 
afternoon I crossed the Umbilo river near Natal, and shortly after observed a coran flying 
up and down in a very singular manner. This bird being very good eating, I dismounted, 
and commenced stalking him, and approached within a few yards of him without being 
discovered. I then noticed a snake creeping towards the coran, which merely flew on a few 
feet and then settled again. The Snake again approached the bird, which, however, seeing 
me, became disenchanted, and was making its escape when I shot it, and then turned my 
attention to the Snake, which remained quite stilL I soon saw that the animal was a young 
Rock Snake about twelve feet long, and, being desirous to obtain a live specimen of this 
reptile, I ran to my pony, where on the saddle I had a long leather strap, with which I 
hoped to noose the young Boa. 

Upon returning to the scene of the coran's death, I found the Snake making off as fast 
as he could towards a clump of thick bush. Immediately starting after him, I headed him 
after a race of about sixty yards, when he turned and tried another direction. I failed in 
noosing him, and, finding that he would probably escape into the bush, I was compelled 
to knock him on the head with a dead branch which happened to be near me. I believed 
him to have been killed outright ; but upon conducting a naturalist to the scene on the 
following morning the Snake had vanished, a fact which, combined with subsequent 
experience of the Snake nature, induces me to believe that he was merely stunned by the 
blow, and became refreshed during the cool of the evening, after which he retreated to his 

ABOMA. Eyieratet C^chria. 

The colour of the Natal Eock Snake is olive, variegated with yellow cross-bands and 
spots, edged with deep black. The head is marked with an arrow-headed spot, and a dark 
streak runs from the back of the eye. The under parts and the sides of the face are 

There are several other species inhabiting Africa, resembling the preceding creature in 
general habits and appearance. 

THE splendid RINGED BOA of America, sometimes called the ABOMA, has been 
celebrated for its destructive powers, and in ancient times was worshipped by the Mexicans 
and propitiated with human sacrifices. Naturally the people of the country would feel 
disposed to awe in the presence of the mighty Snake whose prowess was so well known by 
many fatal experiences, and this disposition was fostered by the priests of -the Serpent 
deity, who had succeeded in taming several of these giant Snakes, and teaching them to 
glide over and around them, as if extending their protection to men endowed with such 
supernatural powers. 

This Serpent destroys its prey after the fashion of its family, merely by squeezing it to 
death between its folds. While thus engaged, the reptile does not coil itself spirally round 
the victim, but wraps fold over fold, to increase its power, just as we aid the grasping 
strength of one hand by placing the other over it. It is said that the Snake can be removed 
from, its prey by seizing it by the tail, and thus unwinding it. Moreover, a heavy blow on 
the tail, or cutting off a few feet of the extremity, is the best way of disabling the monster 
for the time. 


This creature is rather variable in its colouring, the locality having probably some 
influence in this respect. Generally it is rich chocolate-brown, with five dark streaks on 
the top and sides of the head, a series of large and rather narrow dark rings along the back, 
and two rows of dark spots on the sides. Sometimes a number of large spots are seen on 
the back, and white streaks on the sides. In all the members of this genus, the hinder 
limbs or " spurs" of the male are larger and stronger than in the female. 

ANOTHER American species, the DOG-HEADED BOA or BOJOBI (Xiphosbma caninum), is 
notable for the formidable armament of teeth which line the mouth, and the beautiful green 
colour of its skin. As is the case with all the Boidae, this species is only found in the 
hottest parts of the country, and is most plentiful in Brazil. It may be known from the 
other species partly by its green colour, partly by the deep pits on the plates that edge the 
lips, and partly by the regular ring of scales that surrounds the eye. This Snake is some- 
times called the ARARAMBOYA. 

now come to the BOIGTJACU or true BOA CONSTRICTOR, a title which is indifferently 
applied to all the family, and with some degree of appropriateness, inasmuch as they 
all kill their prey by pressure or constriction. 

This magnificent reptile is a native of Southern and Tropical America, and is one of 
those Serpents that were formerly held sacred and worshipped with divine honours. It 
attains a very large size, often exceeding twenty feet in length, and being said to reach 
thirty feet in some cases. It is worthy of mention, that before swallowing their prey, the 
Boas do not cover it with saliva, as has been asserted. Indeed, the very narrow and 
slender forked tongue of the Serpent is about the worst possible implement for such a 
purpose. A very large amount of this substance is certainly secreted by the reptile while 
in the act of swallowing, and is of great use in lubricating the prey, so as to aid it in its 
passage down the throat and into the body, but it is only poured upon the victim during 
the act of swallowing, and is not prepared and applied beforehand. 

The dilating powers of the Boa are wonderful. The skin stretches to a degree which 
seems absolutely impossible, and the comparison between the diameter of the prey and that 
of the mouth through which it has to pass, and the throat down which it has to glide, is 
almost ludicrous in its apparent impracticability, and unless proved by frequent experience, 
would seem more like the prelude to a juggler's trick than an event of every day occur- 
rence. To such an extent is the body dilatable, that the shape of the animal swallowed 
can often be traced through the skin, and the very fur is visible through the translucent 
eyes, as the dead victim passes through the jaws and down the throat. 

There is a popular idea among the inhabitants of the country in which the Boa lives, 
that if it attacks a man in a forest, he may possibly escape by slipping round a tree in 
such a manner that the Serpent may squeeze the trunk of the tree, mistaking it for the 
body of the man, and so burst itself asunder by the violence of its efforts. Whether any 
one has escaped by this rather transparent device is not mentioned. 

The colour of the Boa Constrictor is rich brown, and along its back runs a broad 
chain of large blackish spots of a somewhat hexagonal shape, and of pale white spots 
scooped at each end. These dark and pale spots are arranged alternately and form a really 
pretty pattern, and should the colours be faded, as is always the case when the skin has 
been renewed, the species may be recognised by the arrangement of the scales round the 
eyes, which are set in a circle, are thirty in number, and are separated from the scales of 
the lips by two rows of smaller scales. 

AN equally celebrated Snake, the ANACONDO, is also figured in the illu-stration on 
page 123. 

This gigantic serpent is a native of Tropical America, where it is known under several 
names, La Culebra de Agua, or Water Serpent, and El Traga Venado, or Deer-Swallower 
being the most familiar. The flesh of this Serpent, although firm and white, is seldom if 
ever eaten by the natives, although the flesh of Serpents is considered a delicacy by many 
nations. Within the body is a large amount of fat from which can be obtained a very 
considerable quantity of oil. This oil is thought to be a specific for many complaints, 

BIHOUACU. Boa Constrictor. 

ANACOXDO. Eunectes martnus. 

especially for rheumatism, strains, and bruises. Seven or eight gallons of fine oil can be 
extracted from one of these reptiles, but the process of draining off the oil is generally 
performed in so careless a manner, that half of the amount is usually wasted. 

Sir R. Ker Porter has some curious remarks on the Anacondo. " This serpent is 
not venomous nor known to injure men (at least not in this part of the New World) ; 


however, the natives stand in great fear of it, never bathing in waters where it is known 
to exist. Its common haunt, or rather domicile, is invariably near lakes, swamps, 
and rivers ; likewise close to wet ravines produced by inundations of the periodical 
rains ; hence, from its aquatic habits, its first appellation (i. e. Water Serpent). Fish, and 
those animals which repair there to drink, are the objects of its prey. The creature 
lurks watchfully under cover of the water, and while the unsuspecting animal is drinking, 
suddenly makes a dart at the nose, and with a grip of its back-reclining double range of 
teeth, never fails to secure the terrified beast beyond the power of escape." 

Compression is the only method employed by the Anacondo for killing its prey, and 
the pestilent breath which has been, attributed to this reptile is wholly fabulous. Indeed, 
it is doubtful whether any Snake whatever possesses a fetid breath, and Mr. Waterton, 
who has handled Snakes, both poisonous and inoffensive, as much as most living persons, 
utterly denies the existence of any perceptible odour in the Snake's breath. It is very 
possible that the pestilent and most horrible odour which can be emitted by many Snakes 
when they are irritated, may have been mistaken for the scent of the breath. This evil 
odour, however, is produced from a substance secreted in certain glands near the tail, and 
has no connexion with the breath. 

The colour of the Anacondo is rich brown ; two rows of large round black spots run 
along the back, and each side is decorated with a series of light golden yellow rings edged 
with deep black. 

ONE or two members of this family are worthy of a passing notice. The well-known 
YELLOW SNAKE of Jamaica (Childbothrus inorndtus) is allied rather closely to the boa 
and the anacondo. It is a rather handsome reptile, being of an olive-green upon the 
head and front part of the body, covered with a multitude of little black lines, drawn 
obliquely across the body. The hinder part of the body is black, spotted with 
yellowish olive. 

ANOTHER member of this family, the CORAL SNAKE (Tortrix Scytale) is a well-known 
inhabitant of Tropical America, and is feared or petted by the natives, according to the 
locality in which it happens to reside. In some parts of the country, the native women, 
knowing it to be perfectly harmless, and being pleased with the bold contrast of black 
and pale gold which decorate its surface, are in the habit of taming it and of placing it 
round their necks in lieu of a necklace. In other parts of the country, however, the 
natives believe it to be terribly poisonous, and flee from its presence with terror. 

It lives chiefly on insects, worms, and caterpillars, and is very timid. This creature 
does not taper so gradually from the middle of the body to the tail as is usual in most 
Serpents, but is nearly of the same cylindrical form throughout its length. The ground 
colour of this Serpent is pale yellow, decorated with jetty black rings, about sixty in 
number, that are drawn irregularly over its surface. The Coral Snake never grows to any 
great size, and seldom reaches two feet and a half in length. 

WE now come to another section of the Serpents, termed COLUBRIN^E, the members of 
which are known by the broad, band-like plates of the abdomen, the shielded head, the 
conical tail, and the teeth of both jaws. Some of them are harmless and unfurnished 
with fangs, whereas some are extremely venomous and are furnished with poison-fangs in 
the upper jaw. These, however, do not fold down like those of the viper and rattlesnake, 
but remain perfectly erect. The formation of the fangs again differs in the various species 
In some the fang is grooved for the introduction of poison into the wound whereas in 
others it is perforated nearly throughout its length. 

SCHAAP-STICKER. Psammophylax rhombe&tui 

As an example of the first family of these Serpents, we may take the common BEOWN 
SNAKE of America (Conocepkalvj stridtus}. 

This reptile is quite harmless, and is plentiful in many portions of America, having 
rather a wide range of locality. Although common it is not conspicuous, for its small 
dimensions, its sombre hue, and its retiring habits serve to conceal it from the general 
gaze. It is usually found hiding under the bark of trees, in stone heaps, or among tho 
crevices of rocky ground, choosing those localities because it feeds principally on insect 
prey, and can find abundance of food in such places. Its colour is greyish brown above 
and white below. It is a small species, rarely reaching eleven inches in length. 

THE large family of the Coronellidse contains many curious Serpents, among which 
may be mentioned the well-known SCHAAP-STICKER of Southern Africa. 

This Snake has a rather wide range of country, being spread over nearly the whole of 
Southern Africa, and very common at the Cape of Good Hope. It is a handsome little 
reptile, prettily marked, and brisk and lively in its movements, as is required for the 
purpose of catching the agile prey on which it feeds. The Schaap-sticker lives mostly on 
insects and small lizards, and darts upon them with great swiftness of movement. It is 
generally found crawling among heaps of dead leaves, or trailing its variegated form over 
grassy banks, where it finds the prey on which it subsists. 

The colour of this Serpent is extremely variable, and decidedly different in the old 
and young. In the young specimen, the spots that ornament the back are darker than in 
the adult, and there is generally a little wash of green over the surface. The general 
colour of this Snake is brown, with a greyish or golden tint according to the individual. 
Along the back run several rows, usually three or four in number, of dusky spots, gene- 
rally of a somewhat oval or rhombic form, and edged with deep black. In one specimen 
in the British Museum, the spots have coalesced so as to form three continuous bands 
running along the body. The length of the Schaap-sticker is about two feet. 

ANOTHER species belonging to this family (Coronella Austriaca) has been once or 
twice captured in England, but its occurrence is extremely rare. In two cases where this 


creature has been caught, the locality was also inhabited by the sand lizard (Lacerta 
stirpium), and it is rather remarkable, that upon the Continent, where the Snake is tole- 
rably common, these two species are generally found in the same locality. In general 
appearance, this Snake is not unlike the viper, and is about the same size, attaining a 
length of two feet when adult. It may, however, easily be known from the viper, by the 
absence of the chain of dark lozenge-shaped marks upon the back, for which is substituted 
a double series of small dark spots, one row at each side of the spine. There is a dark 
patch upon the shoulder and head, and under the eyes runs a blackish streak. The body 
is generally brown, but the depth and tone of the ground colour and the markings are 
extremely variable, but are almost always darker towards the head. Below, the colour 
is light brown, often marbled with black. The neck is large, being scarcely smaller than 
the body. 

The BLACK SNAKE or ZWAETE SLANG (Coronella cana) of Southern Africa, belongs to 
the same genus. 

This reptile is common throughout Southern Africa, but is not very often seen, on 
account of its timid habit of hiding itself in some crevice, except when in search of food, 
or when coiled up in repose enjoying the hot beams of the sun. When young, it frequents 
little hillocks covered with stones, but when it reaches adult age, it takes to the plains, 
preferring those that are of a sandy nature, interspersed with little shrubs. It is a shy 
reptile, and mostly runs away when alarmed. Sometimes, however, it will turn upon the 
pursuer, and if grasped, will coil itself round the arm and squeeze so tightly, that the 
hand becomes numbed and unable to retain its hold. 

Many Snakes are variable in their colouring, but the Black Snake is, perhaps, the 
most remarkable among them for this peculiarity. Usually, as its name imports, it is 
black, but sometimes it is bright chestnut. Many specimens are grey, mottled with 
black, while others are chestnut, marbled with deep rich brown. When full grown, it 
attains a length of seven feet. 

OUR common GEASS SNAKE, or EINGED SNAKE, is a good example of the Natricidse. 

It is extremely plentiful throughout England, being found in almost every wood, 
copse, or hedgerow, where it may be seen during the warm months of the year, sunning 
itself on the banks, or gently gliding along in search of prey, always, however, betraying 
itself to the initiated ear by a peculiar rustling among the herbage. Sometimes it may be 
witnessed while in the act of creeping up a perpendicular trunk or stem, a feat which it 
accomplishes, not by a spiral movement, as is generally represented by artists, but by 
pressing itself firmly against the object, so as to render its body flatter and wider, and 
crawling up by the movement of the large banded scales of the belly, the body being 
straight and rigid as a stick, and ascending in a manner that seems almost inexplicable. 

The Einged Snake is perfectly harmless, having no venomous fangs, and all its teeth 
being of so small a size that even if the creature were to snap at the hand, the skin would 
not be injured. Harmless though the Serpent be, it will occasionally assume so defiant 
an air, and put on so threatening an aspect, that it would terrify those who were not well 
acquainted with its habits. I have kept numbers of these Snakes, and have often known 
them, when irritated, draw back their heads and strike at the hand in true viperine 
fashion. Indeed, the venomous look of the attitude is so strong, that I never could resist 
the instinctive movement of withdrawing the hand when the Snake made its stroke, 
although I knew full well that no injury could ensue. 

The food of the Einged Snake consists mostly of insects and reptiles, frogs being the 
favourite prey. I have known Snakes to eat the common newt, and in such cases the 
victim was invariably swallowed head first, whereas the frog is eaten in just the opposite 
direction. Usually, the frog, when pursued by the Serpent, seems to lose all its energy, 
and instead of jumping away, as it would do if chased by a human being, crawls slowly 
like a toad, dragging itself painfully along as if paralysed. The Snake, on coming up with 
its prey, stretches out its neck and quietly grasps one hind foot of the frog, which thence- 
forward delivers itself up to its destroyer an unresisting victim. 



The whole process of swallowing a frog is very curious, as the creature is greatly wider 
than the mouth of the Snake, and in many cases, when the frog is very large and the 
Snake rather small, the neck of the Serpent is hardly as wide as a single hind leg of the 
frog, while the body is so utterly disproportioned, that its reception seems wholly impos- 
sible. Moreover, the Snake generally swallows one leg first, the other leg kicking freely in 
the air. However, the Serpent contrives to catch either the knee or the foot in its mouth 
during these convulsive struggles, and by slow degrees swallows both legs. The limbs 
seem to act as a kind of wedge, making the body follow easily, and in half an hour or 
so the frog has disappeared from sight, but its exact position in the body of the Snake is 
accurately defined by the swollen abdomen. Should the frog be small, it is snapped up by 
the side and swallowed without more ado. 

In captivity, this Snake will eat bread and milk, and insects of various kinds, such as 
the cockroach, mealworm, or any beetle that may be found running about under stones 
and leaves. It always, however, prefers frogs to any other food, and seems to thrive best 
on such a diet. 

The skin or slough of the Einged Snake is often found in the hedgerows or on waste 
grounds, entangled among the graso stems and furze through which the creature had 

RINGED SN4.KE, OR GRASS SNAKE. Tropidondtus matrix. 

crawled with the intention of rubbing off the slough against such objects. In some parts 
of the country, the rejected slough is thought to be a specific against the headache, and is 
tied tightly round the forehead when employed for alleviating pain. 

The Einged Snake is fond of water, and is a good swimmer, sometimes diving with 
great ease and remaining below the surface for a considerable length of time, and some- 
times swimming boldly for a distance that seems very great for a terrestrial creature to 
undertake. This reptile will even take to the sea, and has been noticed swimming between 
Wales and Anglesea. 

I have often seen tame Snakes taken to' an old deserted stone-quarry for a bath in the 
clear water which had collected there. Generally the Snake would swim quietly from one 
side to another, and might then be recaptured, but on sundry occasions it preferred diving 
to the very bottom, and there lay among the stones, heedless of all the pelting to which 
it was subjected, and impassive as if perfectly acquainted with the harmless nature of 
stones projected into water. Nothing would induce the Snake to move but a push with a 
stick, and as the water was rather deep and the quarry wide, a stick of sufficient length 


was not readily found. The motions of the Snake while in the water are peculiarly 
graceful, and the rapid progress is achieved by a beautifully serpentine movement of the 
body and tail. 

This Snake is susceptible of kindness, and if properly treated, soon learns to know its 
owner, and to suffer him to handle it without displaying any mark of irritation. Though 
harmless and incapable of doing any hurt by its bite, the Snake is not without other 
means of defence, its surest weapon being a most abominable and penetrating odour, which 
it is capable of discharging when irritated, and which, like that of the skunk, adheres so 
closely to the skin or the clothes, that it can hardly be removed even by repeated washings. 
Moreover, it is of so penetrating a nature, that it cannot be hidden under artificial essences, 
being obtrusively perceptible through the most powerful perfumes, and rather increasing 
than diminishing in offensiveness by the mixture. The reptile will, however, soon learn to 
distinguish those who behave kindly to it, and will suffer itself to be handled without 
ejecting this horrible odour. 

The young of the Panged Snake are hatched from eggs, which are laid in strings in 
some warm spot and left to be hatched by the heat of the weather or other natural means. 
Dunghills are favourite localities for these eggs, as the heat evolved from the decaying 
vegetable matter is most useful in aiding their development, and it often happens that a 
female Snake obtains access into a hothouse and there deposits her eggs. Some persons 
say that the mother is sometimes known to remain near the eggs, and to coil herself round 
them as has already been related of the boa. The eggs are soft, as if made of parchment, 
and whitish. They are found in chains containing fifteen or twenty, and are cemented 
together by a kind of glutinous substance. 

During the winter the Snake retires to some sheltered spot, where it remains until the 
warm days of spring call it again to action. The localities which it chooses for its winter 
quarters are always in some well sheltered spot, generally under the gnarled roots of 
ancient trees, under heaps of diy brushwood, or deep crevices. In these places the Snakes 
will congregate in great numbers, more than a hundred having been taken from one 
hollow. A few years ago I saw a hole from which a great number of Ringed Snakes had 
been taken ; it was situated in a bank, at some depth. The colour of the Ringed Snake is 
greyish green above and blue black below, often mottled with deep black. Behind the 
head is a collar of golden yellow, often broken in the middle so as to look like two patches 
of yellow. Behind the yellow collar is another of black, sometimes broken in the middle 
also. Along the back run two rows of small dark spots, and a row of large, oblong spots 
is arranged down each side. Both the colour and the shape of the spots are very 

The length of this reptile is generally about a yard, but it sometimes attains a length 
of four feet. The female is always larger than the male. The generic title Tropidonotus 
is formed from two Greek words signifying keel-backed, and is given to these Serpents 
because the scales of the back are keeled. 

THE two Snakes represented in the accompanying illustration are well-known inha- 
bitants of Northern America, and are dreaded from their fierce aspect, but without the 
least reason. 

The HOG-NOSE SNAKE is so called from the odd formation of the muzzle, which is 
rather blunt, and slightly turned up at the tip, something like the snout of a hog. It 
generally frequents moist and marshy localities, as the edges of rivers and ponds, where it 
finds a plentiful subsistence among the toads, frogs, lizards, and insects which swarm in 
such spots. 

Although as harmless as our ringed Snake, and of similar dimensions, so that it need 
not be feared on account of its bodily strength, the Hog-nose Snake is rather feared by 
those who are not acquainted with its structure and habits. If it be irritated in any way, 
it assumes a most threatening attitude, coils itself like a rattlesnake, flattening its head 
after the fashion of venomous Serpents, utters a furious hiss, and.strikes at the foe with 
the rapidity of lightning. Yet all this flourish of defiance is without the least foundation, 
and although it might serve to intimidate the ignorant, only raises the mirth of the better 

HOG-NOSE SNAKE. Hetcrodon 

BLACK VIPER. Hettrodon nlger. 

instructed. For the Serpent does not even open its mouth when it strikes, but darts its 
closed jaws at the foe, without even inflicting the trifling wounds which might be caused 
by its small but needle-like teeth. Even if pushed about with a stick, and handled 
in the roughest manner, it never bites, but contents itself with its impotent personation 
of the venomous Snakes. 

Sometimes it tries other arts, and instead of simulating envenomed rage, pretends to be 
dead and lies motionless, hoping to escape as soon as the enemy has gone away. So 
perfectly does it assume the semblance of death, suffering itself to be tossed about without 
displaying the least sign of life, the muscles relaxed and the body hanging loosely and 
heavily in the hand, that experienced naturalists have been repeatedly deceived, and only 
discovered the deception by seeing the rsptile make its escape after they had left it lying 
apparently dead upon the ground. 

The colour of the Hog-nose Snake is rather variable, but is generally of a darker or 
lighter brown above, with a row of large blotches of a different shade of brown running 
along the sides. Sometimes these blotches are so large, that they unite across the back 
and form broad bands. There is a dark band between the eyes. The average length of this 
reptile is about three feet. 

THE sombre BLACK VIPER belongs to the same genus as the preceding species, and is 

very similar to that reptile in many of its habits. It is a very ugly and ungraceful-looking 

Snake, with a neck of great width, and a head very narrow in front and very wide behind, 

and is by no means a pleasing object to the eye. It does not frequent the marshy 


CORN-SNAKE. Cdlvber gvttdtos. 

THUNDER SNAKE. Cdlulter Gttutus. 

localities so constantly as the hog-nose, but prefers the more elevated and drier situations, 
having a great fondness for the pine-barren districts where the soil is dry and the fallen 
leaves afford it a shelter and a hunting-ground. It feeds mostly on little mammalia, 
certain reptiles, and insects. Like the hog-nose Snake, it hisses and strikes with fangless 
jaws when irritated, and on account of its thick body, flat, wide head, and little glittering 
eyes, has so venomous an aspect, that it terrifies almost any antagonist for the moment, 
and then glides away before he has recovered from the instinctive shock to the nerves. 

The colour of the Black Viper is wholly black above, without any spots, though on the 
living Snake there are indications here and there of a deeper tint. The under parts are 
blackish slate, and the throat takes a whiter hue. It is but a little Serpent, in spite of all 
its airs, being seldom more than twenty inches in length. 

THE family of the Colubrinae is represented in most parts of the world, North America 
possessing a large number of examples. 

The CORN-SNAKE of America may be reckoned among the most handsome of its tribe. 
This pretty reptile is extremely common in many parts of America, although it is not 
very frequently seen, owing to its dislike of daylight. As long as the sun is above the 
horizon, the Corn-Snake conceals itself in some hiding-place, and issues from its home 
as soon as the shades of evening begin to approach. It is fearless after its fashion, and has 
an instinctive liking for the habitations of mankind, haunting farms and houses, where it 
does considerable service by devouring rats and mice. Occasionally it takes toll in the 
form of a chicken, but its services most certainly outbalance its little perquisites. It will 


even enter houses, and can be tamed and made quite familiar. Sometimes it takes a fancy 
to frequent the roadside, and may be seen quietly coiled and at rest, or trailing its 
beautiful scales out of the reach of wheels or hoofs. 

The colours of this Serpent are brilliant, and arranged in a bold and striking manner. 
The general colour is rich chestnut-red, and along each side runs a series of large patches 
of a brighter, but deeper red, each patch being edged with jetty black. There is also a 
row on each side of ranch smaller spots of an oval shape, just outside the larger row, and 
arranged alternately with them. These spots are golden yellow, and are also edged with 
black. There are some similar spots on the head, and a streak is generally found over 
each temple. The under parts are silvery white, boldly chequered with black. The 
length of the Corn-Snake varies from five to six feet. 

ANOTHER example of this genus is the THUNDER SNAKE, so called from the threatening 
black and white of its body, which seems to have a lowering aspect, and to menace poison 
as the thunder-cloud augurs lightning. Sometimes it is known by the name of KING 
SNAKE, or CHAIN SNAKE, the latter title being given because the black and white markings 
of the body are arranged alternately in a chain-like fashion. 

The Thunder Snake is mostly found in moist and shady places, where it feeds upon 
small quadrupeds, reptiles, and birds if it can catch them. The portentous aspect of this 
Snake is fully carried out by its character, which is fierce, quarrelsome, and aggressive to 
a degree seldom found even in poisonous Serpents, and in a fangless Snake not at all to 
be expected. If put in a box with other Serpents, it always quarrels and fights with 
them ; and in one instance, when a Thunder Snake had been introduced into a cage where 
a miliary rattlesnake was residing, it attacked the venomous reptile in spite of its 
poisonous weapons, overpowered, killed, and ate it. Some persons think that a deadly 
feud always rages between the Thunder Snake and rattlesnake, but the truth of this 
supposition is somewhat dubious. In the instance just mentioned, the creature would 
probably have treated a Serpent of any species in precisely the same manner. 

The Thunder Snake is coloured after a very peculiar fashion. All along the body run 
alternate bands of jetty black and pure white, the black being very broad and the white 
very narrow, and not reaching completely across the body. The head is also mottled and 
scribbled with black upon white after a curious and most complicated fashion. The full 
length of this Serpent is about four feet. 

Two other examples of this genus require a short notice, as they are frequently 
mentioned in local works and books of travel. 

The CHICKEN SNAKE (Coluber quadrwittatus) derives its name from its habit of 
entering farms and houses and stealing chickens from the roost. As, however, it feeds 
largely on rats and mice, its services in this respect may in all probability counterbalance 
the loss caused by its thefts. Like the corn-Snake, it is soon tamed, and will become very 
familiar. In colour it is a very delicate looking reptile, being of a soft bright golden 
brown, and having four narrow stripes upon a rich dark brown running the whole length 
of the body. In length it is usually about four feet six inches, though a few specimens 
attain the length of six and even seven feet. This is also a North American reptile. 

The MILK SNAKE, or HOUSE SNAKE (Coluber eximius) is common in many parts of 
North America, and has derived its popular names from its habit of entering houses and 
its fondness for milk, which some persons fancy it obtains from the cows. Its general 
food consists of mice and insects, and, like the preceding species, it is probably of some 
use to the farm where it takes up its residence, and worthy of the encouragement which 
it sometimes receives. 

In the general arrangements of the markings, it is not unlike the corn-Snake, with 
which it has often been confounded, especially after the fresh beauty of its colours has 
been dimmed by death, or extracted and changed by spirits. There are similar rows of 
patches along the sides, but in this species the spots are much broader, often coalescing 
over the back and forming bands, and the general hue of the body is a beautiful blue 


ULACK. SNAKE. Coryphodon constrictor. 

tinge. The under parts are silver-white, boldly tesselated with oblong and sharply 
defined marks of black. The length of the Milk Snake is generally about four feet. 

Other species belonging to the genus Coluber are found in Australia, India, Japan, 
China, and Europe, the latter ( Coluber ^Esculapii} being the Serpent which is represented 
by the ancients as twined round the staff of ^Esculapius and the caduceus of Mercury. 

The BLACK SNAKE of America ib perhaps the best known of the numerous Serpents, 
which, happening to be black or dark brown, have been called by the same title. 

This Snake is common in Northern America, where it is sometimes known under the 
name of KACEK, on account of its great speed. It is a perfectly harmless, but highly 
irascible reptile, especially during the breeding season, when it seems to become endowed 
with an unreasoning ferocity, which, happily for the world, is seldom found in reptiles 
better provided with offensive weapons. It has a curious habit of rustling its tail among 
the herbage in such a manner as to resemble the whirr of the dreaded rattlesnake, and 
then darts at the object of its rage and inflicts a tolerably severe bite, thereby inducing 
great terror on the part of the sufferer, who, in the hurry of the moment, naturally believes 
that he has been bitten by the rattlesnake itself. 

It is fond of climbing trees in search of young birds, eggs, and similar dainties, and 
even in that position, is of so tetchy a disposition, that when irritated, it will descend in 
order to attack its foe. Even if confined with other Snakes, it becomes quarrelsome, 
fights with them, and if possible will kill them. 

The haunts of the Black Snake are usually to be found along the edges of streams 
and ponds or lakes, and the reptile is mostly to be seen in shady spots, well sheltered by 
brushwood. Sometimes, however, it goes further a-field, and wanders over the free country, 
traverses rocky soil, or glides along the roadside. It is a most useful reptile, being 
very fond of rats, and able from its great agility to climb over walls or buildings in 
search of its prey, and to insinuate its black length into their hole;. It also feeds much 
on birds, especially when they are young, and is consequently an object of detestation to 
the feathered tribes. It often happens that the locality of the Black Snake is indicated 
by the proceedings of the little birds, which collect above their hated enemy, scold with 

COACH-WHIP SNAKE. Herpetodryas 
(Lower figure.) 

GREEN SNAKE. Cjclophis axtivus. 
(Upper figure.) 

harsh cries, flutter their wings noisily, and by dint of continual annoyance will often 
drive the reptile away from the locality. It has been thought that this Serpent was in 
the habit of killing its prey by pressure, after the fashion of the boas, but this statement 
has not been satisfactorily confirmed. 

The colour of this Snake is blue-black above, and ashen slate below, becoming rather 
whiter upon the throat. In some specimens a number of spots are observed upon the 
back of a deeper and duller hue than the general tint. In length the Black Snake 
generally reaches from five to six feet. 

THE small, but interesting family of the Dryadidse contains a number of Serpents 
remarkable for the slender elegance of their form, the delicate beauty of their colouring, 
and the singular swiftness of their movements. 

The well-known COACH-WHIP SNAKE of North America is an useful example of 
this family. This remarkable reptile has not earned its popular name without good 
reason, for the resemblance between one of these Serpents and a leather whip-thong is 
almost incredibly close. The creature is very long in proportion to its width, the neck 
and head are very small, the body gradually swells towards the middle and then as 
gradually diminishes to the tail, which ends in a small point. The large smooth scales 
are arranged in such a manner that they just resemble the plaited leather of the whip, 
and the polished brown-black of the surface is exactly like that of a well-worn thong. 

The movements of this Snake are wonderfully quick, and when chasing its prey, it 
seems to fly over the ground. The mode of attack is very remarkable. Seizing the 


doomed creature in its mouth, it leaps forward, flings itself over the victim, envelopes it 
with coil upon coil of its lithe body, so as tc Q ntangle the limbs and bind them to the 
body, and, in fact, makes itself into a living lasso. One of these Snakes was seen engaged 
in battle with a hawk, and would apparently have conquered in the seemingly unequal 
combat had not the foes been separated. It had grasped the hawk by one wing, had 
dragged it to the ground, and had succeeded in disabling the terrible claws from striking, 
when the sudden approach of the narrator alarmed the Snake, which released its hold, 
darted into the bushes, and permitted the rescued hawk to fly away in peace. 

The colour of this Serpent is rather variable. Generally it is shining black above and 
lighter beneath, with splashes of purple-brown. Sometimes, however, it is cream or clay- 
coloured, and occasionally has been seen almost white. But, whatever colour may be the 
body, the portion near the head is always raven-black. The length of this Snake is about 
five or six feet. 

ANOTHER very slender Snake, also a native of America, is closely allied to the pre- 
ceding species. This is the GEEEN SNAKE, well known for its grass-green colour and its 
singular activity. 

The Green Snake is fond of climbing trees, traversing the boughs in search of food 
with marvellous celerity, and darting at its insect prey through considerable distances. 
So slender is this Serpent, that a specimen which measures three feet in length, will 
barely reach one-third of an inch in thickness at its widest part. Partly owing to this 
extreme delicacy of form, and partly on account of the leaf-green colour of its body, the 
Green Snake is not easily seen among the foliage, and in many cases would be undis- 
covered but for its rapid and energetic movements. The food of this Snake consists 
mostly of insects. It is very readily tamed, and many persons are fond of carrying the 
beautiful creature about them, tying it round their throats as a necklace, or as a bracelet 
on the wrist. The eye corresponds in beauty to the rest of the person, being very large 
and of a beautiful topaz-yellow. 

The colour of the Green Snake is delicate grass-green above, and silvery white below. 
Its average length is about three feet. 

BEAZIL possesses a most lovely example of these Serpents, the EMEEALD WHIP SNAKK 
(Ph ilodryas viridtssimus) . 

Dr. Wuchever, of Bahia, writes as follows concerning this pretty species in a letter 
quoted by Sir J. E. Tennent, in his " Natural History of Ceylon : " " I am always 
delighted when I find that another tree-Snake has settled in my garden. You look for 
a bird's nest : the young ones have gone, but you find their bed occupied by one of 
these beautiful creatures, which will coil up its body of two feet in length within a space 
not larger than the hollow of your hand. 

They appear to be always watchful, for at the instant you discover one, the quick 
playing of the long, black, forked tongue, will show you that you too are observed. On 
perceiving the slightest sign of your intention to disturb it, the Snake will dart upwards 
through the branches and over the leaves, which scarcely seem to bend beneath the weight. 
A moment more, and you have lost sight of it. Whenever I return to Europe, you may 
be sure that in my hothouse these harmless lovely creatures shall not be missing." 

The green colour of this species is paler below than above. 

The GREY SNAKE of Jamaica (Dromicus ater] is another instance of this family. It 
is often called the BLACK SNAKE, but as that title has already been employed, it is better 
to use the popular name which is first mentioned. 

This reptile is extremely plentiful in Jamaica, where it is mostly found haunting 
heaps of dead leaves, rocks, and buildings. It is especially fond of the crevices found in 
old walls, and will lie for hours with its head and neck hanging out of some cranny, 
partially awaiting the approach of any miserable lizard which may come within read 
while searching after flies. It is rather a savage ophidian, darting fiercely at its adversary 
if irritated, and innicting a wound which, though not dangerous, is very unpleasant, and 
causes the limb to swell and ache for some time. It is said, that if i is attacked by a 



dog, it strikes at the eyes, and can blind the poor creature. While preparing to strike, it 
dilates its neck, and flattens its head, so as to look as like a venomous Serpent as its limited 
means will permit. 

The colour of the Grey Snake is exceedingly variable. Mostly it is uniformly black, 
with a tinge of brown, but it often happens that the former tint is subservient to the 
latter, and in many cases the colour is grey, sometimes of a uniform tint, and sometimes 
variegated with large dark spots. The length of this Snake is rather more than 
three feet. 

THE little family of the Dasypeltidae possesses but one genus, but is remarkable for 
the formation of the teeth, and their use. The teeth of the jaws are very minute arid 
scanty, being at the most only six or seven in number ; but some sharp and strong 
processes issue from the hinder vertebrae of the neck, through holes in the membranes, 
and form a series of tooth-like projections in the gullet. 

The most familiar example of this family is the KOUGH ANODON of Southern Africf 
The name Anodon is of Greek origin, and signifies toothless. This reptile lives almos 

KOUGH ANODO>> Dasypeltis scaoru. 

wholly upon eggs, which it eats after a cu-rious fashion. When it finds a nest, it takes 
the eggs into its mouth, where they lie unharmed, on account of the absence of teeth, 
so that the shell is not broken, and the liquid contents are preserved. When, however, 
the reptile swallows the egg, it passes into the throat, and meets the saw-like row of 
vertebral teeth which have just been mentioned. In its passage, the shell is cut open by 
these teeth, and the muscular contraction of the gullet then crushes the eggs, and enables 
the contents to flow down the Snake's throat. These bony processes are tipped with 
enamel like real teeth. 

The colour of this remarkable Serpent is brown, with a row of black marks along the 
back, sometimes coalescing into a continuous chain, a series of smaller spots upon each 
side, and some arrow-head marks upon the head of a jetty black. 

THE next family is composed of the Tree-Serpents, or Dendrophidae, so called from 
the habit of residing among the branches of trees. 

Our first example of this family is the well-known BOOMSLANGE of Southern Africa. 
In pronouncing this word, which is of Dutch or German origin, and signifies Tree-Snake, 
the reader must remember that it is a word of three syllables. The Boomslange is a 
native of Southern Africa, and is among the most variable of Serpents in colouring, being 



green, olive, or brown ; of such different colours, that it has often been separated into 
several distinct species. 

Dr. A. Smith has given the following valuable description of the Boomslange and 
its habits : 

" The natives of South Africa regard the Boomslange as poisonous, but in their opinion 
we cannot concur, as we have not been able to discover the existence of any gland mani- 
festly organised for the secretion of poison. The fangs are inclosed in a soft pulpy 

sheath, the inner surface of which 
is commonly coated with a thin 
glairy secretion. This secretion 
possibly may have something 
acrid and irritating in its quality, 
which may, when it enters a 
wound, occasion pain and swel- 
ling, but nothing of greater im- 

The Boomslange is generally 
found on trees, to which it resorts 
for the purpose of catching birds, 
upon which it delights to feed. 
The presence of a specimen in a 
tree is generally soon discovered 
by the birds of the neighbour- 
hood, who collect around it, and 
fly to and fro, uttering the most 
piercing cries, until some one, more 
terror-struck than the rest, actually 
scans its lips, and almost without 
resistance, becomes a meal for its 
enemy. During such a proceed- 
ing, the Snake is generally ob- 
served with its head raised about 
ten or twelve inches above the 
branch, round which its body and 
tail are entwined, with its mouth 
open, and its neck inflated, as if 
anxiously endeavouring to in- 
crease the terror which it would 
almost appear it was aware would 
sooner or later bring within its 
grasp some one of the feathered 

Whatever may be said in ridi- 
cule of fascination, it is neverthe- 
less true, that birds, and even 
quadrupeds also, are, under cer- 
tain circumstances, unable to re- 
tire from the presence of certain 
of their enemies ; and what is 

even more extraordinary, unable to resist the propensity to advance from a situation of 
actual safety into one of the most imminent danger. This I have often seen exemplified 
in the case of birds and Snakes ; and I have heard of instances equally curious, in which 
antelopes and other quadrupeds have been so bewildered by the sudden appearance 
of crocodiles, and by the grimaces and contortions they practised, as to be unable to fly 
or even move from the spot towards which they were approaching to seize them." 




THE beautiful BOIGA, sometimes called the AH^ETULLA, also belongs to the family of 
Tree-Serpents. This pretty and graceful creature inhabits Borneo, and on account of the 
extreme gentleness of its disposition, and the ease with which it is tamed, the children 
are in the habit of considering it as a kind of living toy, and allow it to twine around 
their bodies, or carry it about in their little hands without the least alarm. It is a most 
active Serpent, living in trees, and darting its lithe form from branch to branch with 
arrow-like celerity, leaping, as it were, from the coiled folds in which it prepares itself for 
the spring, and passing through the boughs as if shot from a bow, its glittering scales 
(lashing an emerald or sapphirine radiance, as it glances through the sunbeams. 

The. head of the Boiga is long and slender, as beseems the delicate body ; the eye is 
large, full, and round, and the gape very wide. The upper part of its body is rich shining 



blue, shot with sparkling green ; and three bright golden stripes run along the body, one 
traversing the spinal line, and another passing along each side. Behind each eye is a 
bold jetty black streak, and immediately below the black line runs a stripe of pure 

The specific name ought properly to "be spelled leiocercus. It is of Greek origin, and 
signifies smooth-tail, in allusion to the smooth-surfaced scales of the back and tail. 

THE family of the Wood-Snakes, or Dryiophidse, as they are learnedly called, contains 
some interesting and rather curious reptiles. The upper figure in the illustration repre- 
sents the GOLDEN TREE-SNAKE, which is a native of Mexico. It is a most lovely species, 
and of a most singular length, looking more like the thong of a " gig whip " than 
a living reptile. It lives in trees, and in many respects resembles the preceding species. 
It is not so gorgeously decorated as the boiga, but its colours are beautifully soft and 
delicate. The general tint of this Serpent is grey, tinged with yellow, and having a golden 
reflection in certain lights, and being decidedly iridescent in others. The body is 
profusely covered with minute dottings of black. 

The lower figure represents the LANGAHA, one of the Serpents of Madagascar, remark- 
able for the singular appendage to the head. The muzzle is extremely elongated, and is 
furnished with a fleshy projection, about one-third as long as the head, and covered with 
small scales. There is another species, the COCK'S-COMB LANGAHA (Langaha crista-galli), 
also a native of Madagascar, which is known from the ordinary species by the form of 
the appendage, which is toothed something like the comb upon a cock's head. The. 
colour of the Langaha is reddish brown. 

GOLDEN TREE-SNAKE. bryiopMs ociimiiuur.. 

LANGAHA. Ldnyaha 

A VERY beautiful example of the Wood-Snakes is found in Ceylon. This is the BEOWN 
WOOD-SNAKE (Passerita myclvrlzans). Like the langaha, the snout of this Serpent is 
furnished with an appendage, which is pointed, and covered with scales, and is about one- 
fourth as long as the head. This appendage is conspicuous, but its use is not very plain. 
It lives almost wholly in trees, and is nocturnal in its habits, traversing the boughs at 
night for the purpose of catching the small birds as they sleep, taking their young out of 
the nest, and preying upon the lizards and geckos which also prowl about the trees by 
night in search of their insect food. There are two varieties of this beautiful Serpent, one 
being bright green above, with a yellow stripe down each side, and paler below ; while 
the other is brown, glossed with purple, and without the yellow stripe. This variety is 
rare. The length of these Snakes rarely exceeds three feet. 

THE DIPSAS and its congeners may be known from the preceding Snakes, which they 
:,mch resemble in general form, by the large size of the head compared with the extremely 
delicate and slender neck. The body, too, is much wider in the centre, causing the neck 
and tail to appear disproportionately small. This Snake is a native of many parts of Asia. 

DIPSAS. Eudipsas cynodon. 

BANDED BDNGARUS. Bunganu fasci&tus. 

and is found in the Philippines. The name Dipsas is derived from a Greek word, signifying 
thirst, and is given to this snake because the ancients believed that it was eternally 
drinking water and eternally thirsty, and that to allay in some degree the raging drought, 
it lay coiled in the scanty springs that rendered the deserts passable. As they considered 
almost all Serpents to be venomous, and, according to the custom of human nature, feared 
most the creatures of which they knew least, they fancied that the waters were poisoned 
by the presence of this dreaded Snake. Lucan, in the Pharsalia, alludes to this idea : 

" And now with fiercer heat the desert glows, 
And mid-day gloamings aggravate their woes ; 
When lo ! a spring amid the sandy plain 
Shows its clear mouth to cheer the fainting train. 
But round the guarded brink, in thick array 
Dire aspics rolled their congregated way, 
And thirsting in the midst the horrid Dipsas lay. 
Blank horror seized their veins, and at the view, 
Back from the fount the troops recoiling flew." 

The ancient writers also averred that the bite of the Dipsas inoculated the sufferer with 
its own insatiate thirst, so that the victim either died miserably from drought, or killed 
himself by continually drinking water. 

The colours of the Dipsas are not brilliant, but are soft and pleasing. The general tint 
is grey, banded with brown of different shades., sometimes deepening into black. The top 
of the head is variegated with brown, and a dark streak runs from the eye to the corner of 
the mouth. 


THE BANDED BUNGARUS is a native of India, where, from its habits, it is sometimes 
called the Rock-Serpent. The name Bungarus is a most barbarous Latinization of the 
native word Bungarum-Pamma, which, though not euphonious, has at all events the 
advantage of being indigenous, and might have been spared the further distortion of 
being wrested into a sham classical form. In this reptile the head is rather flat and short, 
and the muzzle is rounded. The upper jaws are furnished with grooved fangs. 

The colour of the Banded Bungarus is very variable, but always consists of some light 
hue, relieved by bands or rings of jetty black along its length. 

AN allied species, the SEEPENT-EATING HAMADRYAS (Hamadryas elaps), is notable for 
the peculiarity from which it derives its name. It feeds almost wholly on reptiles, 
devouring the lizards that inhabit the same country, and also living largely on Snakes. 
Dr. Cantor says of 'this Serpent that it cannot bear starvation nearly so well as most 
reptiles, requiring to be fed at least once a month. " Two specimens in my possession 
were regularly fed by giving them a Serpent, no matter whether venomous or not, eveiy 
fortnight. As soon as this food is brought near, the Serpent begins to hiss loudly, and 
expanding its hood, rises two or three feet, and retaining this attitude as if to take a sure 
aim, watching the movements of the prey, darts upon it in the same manner as the naja 
tripudians (?' e. the cobra) does. "When the victim is killed by poison, and by degrees 
swallowed, the act is followed by a lethargic state, lasting for about twelve hours." 

The Hamadryas is fond of water, will drink, and likes to pass the tongue rapidly 
through water as if to moisten that member. It is a fierce and dangerous reptile, not only 
resisting when attacked, but even pursuing the foe should he retreat, a proceeding contrary 
to the general rule among Serpents. The poison of this creature is virulent and active, 
a fowl dying in fourteen minutes, and a dog in less than three hours, after receiving the 
fatal bite, although the experiments were made in the cold season, when the poison of 
venomous Snakes is always rather inactive. The poisonous secretion reddens litmus paper 
very slightly, and, as is the case with most Serpent poisons, loses its efficacy by being 
exposed to the air. The native name of the Hamadryas is Sunkr Choar. 

The colour of this Snake is generally of an olive hue, auburn, and pale below, but there 
is a variety marked with cross-bands of white. It is a large species, varying from four to 
six feet in length, while some specimens are said to reach ten feet. 

WE now come to some of the most deadly of the Serpent tribe, the first of which is the 
well-known COBRA DI CAPELLO, or HOODED COBRA of India. 

This celebrated Serpent has long been famous, not only for the deadly power of its 
venom, but for the singular performances in which it takes part. The Cobra inhabits many 
parts of Asia, and in almost every place where it is found, certain daring men take upon 
themselves the profession of Serpent-charmers, and handle these fearful reptiles with 
impunity, cause them to move in time to certain musical sounds, and assert that they bear 
a life charmed against the bite of these reptilian playmates. One of these men will take a 
Cobra in his bare hands, toss it about with perfect nonchalance, allow it to twine about his 
naked breast, tie it round his neck, and treat it with as little ceremony as if it were an 
earthworm. He will then take the same Serpent r apparently the same make it bite a 
fowl, which soon dies from the poison, and will then renew his performances. 

Some persons say that the whole affair is but an exhibition of that jugglery in which 
the Indians are such wondrous adepts ; that the Serpents with which the man plays are 
harmless, having been deprived of their fangs, and that a really venomous specimen is 
adroitly substituted for the purpose of killing the fowl. It is moreover said, and truly, 
that a Snake, thought to have been rendered innocuous by the deprivation of its fangs, has 
bitten one of its masters and killed him, thus proving the imposture. 

Still, neither of these explanations will entirely disprove the mastery of man over a 
venomous Serpent. In the first instance, it is surely as perilous an action to substitute a 
venomous Serpent as to play with it. Where was it hidden, why did it not bite the man 
instead of the fowl, and how did the juggler prevent it from using its teeth while he was 
conveying it away ? And, in the second instance, the detection of an impostor is by no 
means a proof that all who pretend to the same powers are likewise impostors. 



The following narrative of Mr. H. E. Reyne, quoted by Sir J. E. Terment in his 
" Natural History of Ceylon," seems to be a sufficient proof that the man did possess 
sufficient power to induce a truly poisonous Serpent to leave its hole and to perform certain 
antics at his command. " A Snake-charmer came to my bungalow in 1854, requesting me 
to allow him to show me his Snakes dancing. As -I had frequently seen them, I told him 
I would give him a rupee if he would accompany me to the jungle and catch a Cobra that 
I knew frequented the place. 

He was willing, and as I was 
anxious to test the truth of the 
charm, I counted his tame Snakes, 
and put a watch over them until 
I returned with him. Before 
going, I examined the man, and 
satisfied myself he had no Snake 
about his person. When we 
arrived at the spot, he played 
upon a small pipe, and after per- 
severing for some time, out came 
a large Cobra from an ant-hill 
which I knew it occupied. On 
seeing the man, it tried to escape, 
but he caught it by the tail and 
kept swinging it round until we 
reached the bungalow. He then 
made it dance, but before long it 
bit him above the knee. He im- 
mediately bandaged the leg above 
the bite, and applied a Snake- 
stone to the wound to extract the 
poison. He was in great pain 
for a few minutes, but after that 
it gradually went away, the stone 
falling off just before he was 

"When he recovered, be held 
up a cloth, at which the Snake 
flew, and caught its fangs in it. 
While in that position, the man 
passed his hand up its back, and, 
having seized it by the throat, he 
extracted the fangs in my pre- 
sence and gave them to me. He 
then squeezed out the poison on 
to a leaf. It was a clear oily 
substance, and when rubbed on 
the hand, produced a fine lather. 
I carefully watched the whole 
operation, which was also wit- 
nessed by my clerk -and tw T o or 
three other persons." 

With regard to the so-called charming of Serpents, there is no need of imagining these 
men to be possessed of any superhuman powers ; for these, and most of the venomous 
Serpents, are peculiarly indolent, and averse to using the terrible weapons which they 
wield; in proof of which assertion, the reader may recollect that Mr. Waterton, though not 
pretending to be a Snake-charmer, carried a number of rattlesnakes in his bare hand 
without being bitten for his meddling. Not that I would positively assert that the Snake- 



charmers do not possess some means of rendering themselves comparatively proof against 
the Serpent's bite ; for it is reasonable to conclude that, just as a secretion of a cow will, 
when it has been suffered to pervade the system^ render it proof against the poison of 
the small-pox, there may be some substance which, by a kind of inoculation, can guard 
the recipient against the poison of the Cobra. In the last century, the one was quite as 
irremediable as the other. 

Another fact is yet to be mentioned. In almost every instance where a poison, 
vegetable or animal, is likely to gain access to human beings, Nature supplies a remedy at 
no great distance, just as, to take a familiar instance, the dock is always to be found near 
the nettle. There certainly are many poisons for which no sure remedy has been 
discovered, and, until lately, the venom of the Cobra ranked among that number. 
Eecently, however, some important discoveries have been made, which seem to prove that 
the bite of the Cobra may be cured in two methods, viz. the external application of certain 
substances to the wound, and the internal administration of others. As the general 
character of the Cobra is almost precisely the same as that of many other venomous 
Serpents, and has long been familiar to the public, I shall devote the greater portion of 
the space, not to the creature itself, but to the remedies for its bite. 

'The first of these remedies is a plant belonging to the group of birth-worts, and known 
to botanists by the name of Aristolo'chia Indica. 

This plant has long been considered as a valuable remedy for the bite of the Cobra, 
but the accounts of its use and mode of operation have mostly been vague and scarcely 
trustworthy. I have, however, been fortunate enough to obtain much valuable informa- 
tion on this subject from K. Lowther, Esq., formerly Commissioner in India, who was 
accustomed to employ this plant very largely in cases of Cobra-bites, and has kindly 
forwarded the following communication on the subject : 

" According to your request I have the pleasure of inclosing a statement of one out of 
at least twenty cases of Snake-bites, in which the exhibition of the Aristolochia Indica 
was attended with complete success, on patients who were brought to my house on a 
litter, in a perfect state of coma from the bites of venomous Snakes. 

The Aristolochia Indica is noticed by medical writers as a powerful stimulant, much 
extolled as a remedy for Snake-bites, in support of which I need only refer you to my 
detailed statement, as also to the circumstances under which the plant was transferred to 
my garden at Allahabad. The gentleman from whom I received it (Mr. Breton, Deputy 
Collector of Customs) gave me the following account of it. 

A Cobra, to the great alarm of his servants, had taken up its abode in a mound of 
earth, formed by white ants, in the vicinity of his house. A party of Snake-catchers having 
one day made their appearance in the village, Mr. Breton was afforded the opportunity of 
getting rid of the reptile by having it dug out of its lodgment. After having reached a 
considerable depth, the man at work used his finger for the purpose of ascertaining the 
direction of the hole. This seemed to have been its termination, or nearly so, as the Snake 
caught hold of his finger. His companion immediately ran off to the bank of a stream 
near at hand, and brought back some leaves, which, having bruised with a stone, he 
administered to his friend's relief. Mr. Breton requested the man to take him to the plant, 
which he forthwith removed to his own garden. The Snake-catcher informed him the 
plant was a specific, and that they usually carried the dried root about with them in case 
of need. 

Mr. Breton, having been subsequently appointed to Allahabad, brought the plant away, 
and was successful in the treatment of numerous cases. On being removed to a distant 
station, he transferred the plant to me. The plant is a creeper, and sheds its leaves at that 
season when Snakes, for the most part, are lying inert in their holes. I should have 
mentioned, that the Cobra above referred to was killed in the hole. 

There are several species of Aristolochia, all of them I believe stimulant ; but the Indica 
is that which I refer to, it is intensely bitter and strongly aromatic. 

In one bad case which came under my treatment, in which large doses had been 
exhibited, I gave" an additional leaf to the patient to take home, but to be used only in case 


of relapse. Her husband informed me that, although quite recovered, she took the extra 
dose at 1 o'clock in the morning, and became so giddy that in attempting to move she 
reeled about like a drunken creature. 

A young Hindoo woman was brought to my door in a ' charpoy,' or litter, in a state so 
apparently lifeless from a Snake-bite, that I had no hesitation in refusing to prescribe. 
An officer, who was on a visit at my house at the time, considered the woman beyond the 
power of human relief, and advised me to send her away, as my failure would bring dis- 
credit on a remedy which was attracting public notice. In this instance the patient was 
as cold as marble ; there was no pulsation ; countenance death-like. 

The woman's husband manifested great distress at my refusal, at the same time urging 
that as the remedy had been prepared, I might, at any rate, give his wife the chance of 
recovery. I explained to him my motives, and my firm belief that his wife was dead 
long before he had reached my door. However, rather than add to his distress by persisting 
in my refusal, I forced her jaws open, and poured down her throat three medium-sized 
leaves of the Aristolochia Indica, reduced to a pulp, with ten black peppercorns, diluted 
with a graduated ounce of water. The remedy having flowed into her stomach, I directed 
her body to be raised and supported in a sitting posture, and with some anxiety, though 
without the slightest prospect of success. 

I attentively watched her features, and in the course of eight or ten minutes I observed 
a slight pulsation on her under lip. I instantly directed her husband, with the aid of my 
own servants, to drag her about for the purpose, if possible, of increasing the circulation. 
Supported by two men, holding her up by the waist and arms, she was moved about, her 
feet helplessly dragging after her. After the lapse of a few minutes, I perceived an attempt 
on the part of the patient to use her feet. I accordingly directed them to raise her body 
sufficiently high to admit of the soles of her feet being placed on a level with the ground. 
In a few minutes she gave a deep inspiration, accompanied with a kind of shriek, mani- 
festing the return of consciousness. This was followed by an exclamation, "A fire is 
consuming my vitals ! " At this time her chest and arms were deadly cold. I immediately 
gave her the pulp of one leaf in an ounce of water, which greatly alleviated the burning 
sensation in the stomach. 

She was then enabled to explain the position of the wound on her instep, which had 
the appearance of a small speck of ink, surrounded by a light-coloured circle. I had the 
part well rubbed with the Aristolochia, after which she was able to walk without assistance. 
I kept her walking up and down for at least a couple of hours. Having expressed herself 
entirely recovered, I allowed her to depart. She called on the following morning to show 

The Snake unfortunately escaped, but the woman described it as a ' Kala Samp,' which 
is the term ordinarily used for the Kobra Kapelle. 

I have written the above entirely from memory, the case having occurred eight or nine 
years ago. 

A middle-aged woman was brought to my door in the early part of the rainy season, 
who had been bitten by a Snake at daybreak, while stooping down for the purpose of 
sweeping the floor. She called out to the people of the house that a rat had bitten her, 
and nothing more was thought of it, as her attention was directed to her infant who became 
fractious for the breast. She accordingly went to bed to give the child sustenance, and 
not long afterwards complained of giddiness. It was suggested to her that a Snake might 
have bitten her, but she referred to a hole in the mud-wall from which the rat must have 
darted out. 

Nothing further transpired until the household were alarmed on finding her in a state 
of insensibility, foaming at the mouth, and the infant at her breast. They were then 
convinced that a Snake must have done the mischief, and immediately carried her off to 
the charmer! After detaining the woman for a full hour, the fellow coolly told her 
friends to take her off to the Commissioner, who would prescribe for her. The poor woman 
had been dead for some time before the incantations were finished. On arriving at my 
house, I found the deceased in a state of incipient decomposition, and, having heard the 
statement of her friends, directed them to take the body away for the performance of 


funeral rites, and to lose no time in bringing her infant, who was said to be suffering from 
the effects of the poison. 

The poor thing reached my house in a state of insensibility, though not dead. Its head 
was hanging on its shoulder, and when raised beyond the perpendicular would fall on the 
opposite shoulder. The body was not cold, and that was the only indication that death 
had not supervened. I selected one of the smallest of the leaves of the Aristolochia, and 
pounded one-third of it, and, with a small table-spoonful of water, poured the solution into 
the stomach. After the lapse of four or five minutes the child heaved a deep sigh, opened 
its eyes wildly, gave a loud scream, and afterwards became quite composed. The child 
was brought to me on the following morning quite well." 

As this plant is so valuable, and seems likely to become an acknowledged remedy, a 
few lines may be spared for a short description of the species, and the mode of its action. 

The Aristolochia Indica is one species of a rather large genus, inhabiting many parts 
of the world, but being most plentiful in the hotter regions. It is a creeping plant, and 
the specimens grown by Mr. Lowther were trained upon a trellis-work, which they clothed 
with their narrow, abruptly pointed leaves. Another species of this group of plants, the 
Aristolochia serpentina, is not uncommon in parts of North America, where it is known 
under the title of the Virginian Snake-root. An infusion of this plant is used as a 
specific against ague and liver affections. 

The fresh leaf of the Aristolochia Indica is, when tasted, veiy bitter and aromatic, bearing 
some resemblance to quinine in the clear searching quality of the bitter. It is remarkable 
that when persons are suffering from the poison of the Cobra they describe it as being 
sweet. There is certainly a kind of sweetness in the leaf, for on chewing a dried leaf of 
this plant, kindly sent me by Sir W. Hooker, from the collection in the botanical gardens 
at Kew, I find it to be rather, but not very bitter, with a pungent aroma, something like 
that of the common ivy, and a faint, though decided sweetness as an after-flavour. 

It is not a universal specific, for when experiments were tried by getting some dogs 
bitten by the Cobra, and treating them with this leaf, they died to all appearance sooner 
than if they had been entirely neglected. Mr. Lowther has made rather a curious series 
of experiments on the Cobra's poison and the mode of its action, and has found that while 
human beings become cold as marble under the influence of the venom, dogs are affected 
in precisely an opposite manner, being thrown into a high fever, from which they die. 
The body of a dog killed by a Cobra's bite, will remain quite hot for some ten hours. The 
Aristolochia, therefore, which is a powerful stimulant, rather aids than counteracts the 
operation of the poison. 

In the case of a human being, however, the effect of this remedy seems to be infallible, 
and Mr. Lowther informs me that he always kept a mortar and pestle by the plant, so that 
no time should be lost in bruising the leaf, and mixing it thoroughly with water, before 
pouring it down the throat of the sufferer. The admixture of water was necessary, 
because, in most instances, the patient was insensible, and the jaws stiffened, so that the 
mouth needed to be opened forcibly, and the preparation poured down the throat. 

THE second mode of cure employed by the natives of India, Ceylon, and even of some 
parts of Africa, is the now celebrated Snake-stone, so carefully described by Sir 
J. E. Tennent in his "Natural History of Ceylon." On being bitten by a Cobra, the 
sufferer applies one of these remarkable objects to each puncture, where they adhere 
strongly for a variable space of time, five or six minutes appearing to be the usual average. 
They seem to absorb the blood as it flows from the wound, and at last fall off without 
being touched, when the danger is considered to be over. This mode of application is 
general throughout all parts of the world where the Snake-stone is known. 

Through the kindness of Sir J. E. Tennent, I have been enabled to make a careful 
inspection of these objects, and to peruse the original letters relating to their use. They 
are flattish, shaped something like the half of an almond with squared ends, rather light, 
bearing a very high polish, and of an intense black in fact, looking much as if they were 
rudely cut from common jet. The value of these singular objects is placed beyond doubt 
by the carefully accredited narratives lately published. 


In one case, a native was seen to dart into the wood, and return, bearing a Cobra, about 
six feet in length, grasping it by the neck with the right hand and by the tail with the 
left. The Serpent was powerful, and struggled so hard, that its captor was forced to 
call for assistance. As, however, he held the reptile awkwardly, it contrived to get its 
head round, and to the horror of the spectators, fastened on his hand, retaining its hold 
for several seconds. The white bystanders at once gave up the man for lost, but his 
companion speedily produced from his waistband two Snake-stones, one of which he applied 
to each puncture. They clung firmly, seemed to absorb the flowing blood, and in a minute 
or two relieved the extreme pain which the man was already suffering. Presently both 
Snake-stones dropped simultaneously, and the man declared that the danger had then 
passed away. 

Another native then took from his stores a little piece of white wood, passed it over 
the head of the Cobra, grasped it by the neck and put it into his basket, averring that 
when armed with this weapon, a man could handle any kind of Snake without being 

A similar instance is related by Mr. Lavalliere, formerly District Judge of Kandy, and 
forwarded to Sir J. E. Tennent by the writer, together with the materials employed. The 
woody substances will presently be described ; at present o,ur business is with the Snake- 
stone, or Pamboo-Kaloo as the natives call it. 

The formation of these objects has long been a mystery, and they have been made into 
a very profitable article of commerce by those who possess the secret. The monks of 
Manilla are said to be the chief makers of Snake-stones, and to supply the merchants, by 
whom they are distributed throughout so many countries. 

One of these stones was sent for analysis to Mr. Faraday, who pronounced it to be 
made of charred bone, and in all probability to have been filled with blood, and again 
charred. " Evidence of this is afforded, as well by the apertures of cells or tubes on its 
surface, as by the fact that it yields and breaks under pressure, and exhibits an organic 
structure within. When heated slightly, water rises from it and also a little ammonia, 
and if heated still more highly in the air, carbon burns away, and a bulky white ash is 
left, retaining the shape and size of the stone." This ash is composed of phosphate of 
lime, and Sir J. E. Tennent remarks, with much judgment, that the blood discovered by 
Mr. Faraday was probably that of the native to whom the Snake-stone was applied. 

Another light has been thrown on the subject by Mr. E. W. H. Hardy, who states that the 
Snake-stone is in use in Mexico, and that it is formed by cutting a piece of stag's-horn 
into the proper shape, wrapping it tightly in grass or hay, folding it in sheet-copper so as 
to exclude the air, and calcining it in a charcoal fire. 

Being desirous of testing the truth of this recipe, I procured a piece of stag's-horn, cut 
it into proper shape, and exposed it to the heat of a fierce charcoal fire for an hour and a 
half. On removing it from the copper, the hay had been fused into a black mass, easily 
broken, and forming a complete cast of the inclosed horn, which fell out like an almond 
from its shell. 

On comparing the charred horn with the veritable Snake-stones, I find them to be 
identical except in the polish. The fracture of both is the same, and when exposed to a 
white heat in the air, my own specimen burned away, leaving a white ash precisely as 
related of the real specimen, and the ashes of both are exactly alike, saving that my own 
is of a purer white than that specimen calcined by Mr. Faraday, which has a slight tinge 
of pink, possibly from the absorbed blood. On throwing it into water, it gave out a vast 
amount of air from its pores, making the water look for a few seconds as if it were newly 
opened champagne, a peculiarity which agrees with Thunberg's description of the Snake- 
stone used at the Cape, and imported at a high price from Malabar. The rather high 
polish of the Cingalese Snake-stone I could not rightly impart to my own specimen, 
probably for want of patience. I found, however, that by rendering the surface very- 
smooth with a file, and afterwards with emery paper, before exposing it to the fire, it could 
be burnished afterwards by rubbing it with polished steel Even in the original objects, 
the polish is not universal, the plane side being much rougher than the convex, 

We will now pass to the little pieces of woody substance, by which the natives assert 
3. L 


that they hold dominion over the Serpent tribe. It has already been mentioned that the 
native who produced the Snake-stones, employed a small piece of wood as a charm to 
render the Snake harmless while he handled it. Mr. Lavalliere, in the course of his 
narration, remarks that the man who was bitten proceeded to bandage his leg above the 
wound, and to stroke it downwards with a piece of some root. I have also inspected the 
identical substances used in the two cases just narrated, and have come to the conclusion 
that no virtue resides in the particular plant from which the charm is taken, but the whole 
of its value lies in the confidence with which the possessor is inspired. 

There are three specimens of charmed woods, all belonging to different plants. One 
is apparently a part of an aristolochia, another is so small and shrivelled that it cannot 
be identified, while the third, on being cut and tasted, proves to be nothing more or less 
than a piece of common ginger. This fact serves to establish the theory of Mr. Waterton, 
that there is no particular secret in Snake-charming, except the possession of confidence 
and unhesitating resolution. 

ONE notable peculiarity in the Cobra is the expansion of the neck, popularly called the 
hood. This phenomenon is attributable, not only to the skin and muscles, but to the skeleton. 
About twenty pairs of the ribs of the neck and fore part of the back are flat instead of 
curved, and increase gradually from the head to the eleventh or twelfth pair, from which they 
decrease until they are merged into the ordinary curved ribs of the body. When the Snake 
is excited, it brings these ribs forward so as to spread the skin, and then displays the oval 
hood to best advantage. In this species, the back of the hood is ornamented with two 
large eye-like spots, united by a curved black stripe, so formed that the whole mark bears 
a singular resemblance to a pair of spectacles. 

The native Indians have a curious legend respecting the origin of this mark, and their 
reverence for the reptile. One day when Buddha was lying asleep in the sun, a Cobra 
came and raised its body between him and the burning beams, spreading its hood so as to 
shade his face. Th grateful deity promised to repay the favour, but forgot to do so. In 
those days the Brahminny kite used to prey largely on the Cobras, and worked such 
devastation among them, that the individual who had done Buddha the forgotten service 
ventured to remind him of his promise, and to beg relief from the attacks of the kite. 
Buddha immediately granted the request by placing the spectacles on the Snake's hood, 
thereby frightening the kite so much that it has never since ventured to attack a Cobra. 

It is rather curious that many persons fancy that the Cobra loses a joint of its tail 
every time that it sheds its poison, this belief being exactly opposite to the popular notion 
that the rattlesnake gains a new joint to its rattle for every being which it has killed. 

The colour of this Serpent is singularly uncertain, and the British Museum possesses 
several specimens of each variety. In some cases the body is brownish olive, and the 
spectacles are white, edged with black. Another variety is also brownish olive, but covered 
with irregular cross-bands of black. The spectacles are remarkably bold, white, edged with 
black. Other specimens are olive, marbled richly with brown below. The spectacles are 
like those of the last variety. Sometimes a few specimens are found of a uniform 
brownish olive without any spectacles ; others are black with white spectacles, and others, 
again, black without spectacles. Even the number of rows in which the scales are 
disposed is as variable as the colour. The specimens without spectacles seem to .come 
from Borneo, Java, the Philippines, and other islands. The length of the Cobra di Capello 
is usually between three and four feet. 

The AFKICAN COBRA or HAJE is equally poisonous with its Asiatic relative. It is 
sometimes called SPUUGH-SLANGE, or Spitting-Snake, on account of its power of projecting 
the poisonous secretion to a distance. It effects this object by a sudden and violent 
expiration of the breath, and, if aided by the wind, will strike an object at the distance of 
several feet. Gordon Gumming mentions an instance of his suffering from the poison of 
this Serpent. " A horrid Snake, which Kleinberg had tried to kill with his loading-rod, 
flew up at my eye and spat poison in it. I endured great pain all night ; the next day the 
eye came all right again." This short narrative was much ridiculed when the work first 


appeared, familiar as the existence of the Spitting-Snake has been to naturalists for many 

The Haje is one of the fiercest among poison-bearing Snakes, seldom running from an 
adversary, but generally turning to fight, and not ^infrequently beginning the attack. 
Generally, it moves slowly, but when angry, it darts at its foe, and strikes and spits with such 
rapid energy, that the antagonist stands in need of a quick hand and eye to conquer the 
furious reptile. It is a good climber, and is in the habit of ascending trees in search of 
prey. It is fond of water, and will enter that element voluntarily. While immersed, it 
swims well, but slowly, scarcely elevating its head above the surface. 

In colouring it is one of the most, variable of Snakes;- Sometimes it is light yellow- 
brown, either of a uniform tint, or covered with irregular blotches. Other specimens are 
black when adult, having, when young, a series of broad yellow bands on the fore part of 
the body. Another variety is black, with a greyish white spectacle-like mark on the neck, 
and the fore part of the abdomen yellow, with some broad cross-bands. This is the variety 
shown in the illustration. It is rather curious that the hood of the black specimens is 
not so wide as in the yellow and brown varieties. The length of the Haje is about five 
or six feet. 

OSTE of the brightest and loveliest of Serpents is the BEAD SNAKE of North America. 

This beautiful little reptile inhabits the cultivated grounds, especially frequenting the 
sweet-potato plantations, and burrowing in the earth, close to the roots of the plants, so 
that it is often dug up by the negroes while getting in the harvest. It possesses poison- 
fangs, but is apparently never known to use them, permitting itself to be handled in the 
roughest manner, without attempting to bite the hand that holds it. 

The colours of this Snake are bright, pure, and arranged in a manner so as to contrast 
boldly with each other. The muzzle and part of the head are black, the remainder of the 
head is golden yellow, and the front of the neck jetty black. A narrow baud of golden 
yellow with undulating edges conies next the black, and is followed by a broad band of 
the lightest carmine.- From this point the whole of the body and tail are covered with 
narrow rings of golden yellow, alternating with broad bands of carmine and jetty black. 

L 2 


BEAD SNAKE. Eiapt fuiv 

Towards the tail the carmine bands become paler and more of a vermilion hue, and for 
the last four inches there are no red bands, the black and yellow alternating equally. The 
extreme tip of the tail is yellow. The Bead Snake never attains any great size, seldom 
exceeding two feet in length. 

IT is very remarkable that tne terrible LABAERI Snake of South America (Elaps 
lemniscdtus] should be closely allied to and belong to the same genus as the bead Snake 
of the Northern States. Mr. Waterton states that this Serpent is fond of lying coiled on a 
stump of a tree or some bare spot of ground, where it can hardly be distinguished from 
the object on which it is reposing. The same writer remarks in a letter to me, that "the 
Labarri Snake has fangs, and is mortally poisonous when adult. It exhibits the colours of 
the rainbow when alive, but these colours fade in death. I have killed Labarri Snakes 
eight feet long." 

WE now arrive at a most curious family, known by the possession of very long poison- 
fangs, perforated, and permanently erect. They only include one genus, of which the best 
known species is the NAREOW-HEADED DENDEASPIS (Dendraspis angtisticeps). 

This Serpent is very long, slender, and unusually active and a good climber, exceeding 
the haje in this accomplishment. It is found in Southern Africa, and is tolerably common 
at Natal. Its. colour is olive-brown washed with green above, and a paler green below. 
It is rather a large though very slender Snake, sometimes reaching the length of six feet. 

THE last example of the Serpent tribe is the ATEACTASPIS of Southern Africa 
(Atractaspis irreguldris). The fangs of this Snake are longer in proportion than those of 
any other known Serpent, reaching nearly to the angle of the mouth. They are so long, 
indeed, that Dr. Smith is of opinion that the creature cannot open its mouth sufficiently 
wide to erect the fangs fully, so that the poison-teeth are always directed backwards. 
They still, however, serve an important purpose ; for when the Atractaspis seizes its prey, 
the poison-fangs necessarily pierce the skin, so as to inject the venom into the body of the 
victim, and from their shape act as grapnels, by which all attempts at escape are foiled. 


Very little is known of the habits of this Snake, but it is thought to burrow in loose 

The colour of the Atractaspis is blackish green above, shaded with orange-brown, and 
orange-buff below. It is a small Serpent, rarely measuring more than two feet in length. 

THE BATKACHIANS are separated from the true reptiles on account of their peculiar 
development, which gives them a strong likeness to the fishes, and affords a good ground 
for considering these animals to form a distinct order. On their extrusion from the egg, 
they bear no resemblance to their parents, but are in a kind of intermediate existence, 
closely analogous to the caterpillar or larval state of insects, and called by the same name. 
Like the fish, they exist wholly in the water, and breathe through gills instead of lungs, 
obtaining the needful oxygen from the water which washes the delicate gill-membranes. 
At this early period they have no external limbs, moving by the rapid vibration of the 
flat and fan-like tail with which they are supplied. While in this state they are popularly 
called tadpoles, those of the frog sometimes bearing the provincial name of pollywogs. 
The skin of the Batrachians is not scaly, and in most instances is smooth and soft. 
Further peculiarities will be mentioned in connexion with the different species. 

These creatures fall naturally into two sub-orders, the leaping or tail-less Batrachians, 
and the crawling Batrachians. The leaping Batrachians, comprising the frogs and toads, 
are familiar in almost all lands, and in England are well known on account of their 
British representatives. 

The tongue plays an important part in separating the frogs and toads into groups, 
and in the first group the tongue is altogether absent, these creatures being in consequence 
called Aglossa, or tongueless Bafcrachians. 

THE first of these creatures, the XENOPUS of Western and Southern Africa (Dactylethra 
Icevis], is remarkable for possessing nails on its feet, the first three toes being tipped with 
a sharply pointed claw or nail. The family is very small, comprising only one genus, and, 
as far as is known, two species. The colour of the Xenopus is ashy brown, veined with 
blackish brown. It is rather a large species. 

THE celebrated SUEINAM TOAD has long attracted attention, not for its beauty, as it is 
one of the most unprepossessing of beings, but for the extraordinary way in which the 
development of the young is conducted. 

When the eggs are laid, the male takes them in his broad paws, and contrives to place 
them on the back of his mate, where they adhere by means of a certain glutinous secretion, 
and by degrees become embedded in a series of curious cells formed for them in the skin. 
When the process is completed, the cells are closed by a kind of membrane, and the back 
of the female Toad bears a strong resemblance to a piece of dark honey-comb, when the 
cells are filled and closed. Here the eggs are hatched, and in these strange receptacles the 
young pass through their first stages of life, not emerging until they have attained their 
limbs, and can move about on the ground. 

The skin of this, as well as of other batrachians, is separated from the muscles of the 
back, and allows room for the formation of the cells, being nearly half an inch thick. 
The full-sized cells are much deeper than long, and each would about hold a common 
horse-bean, thrust into it endways. The mouths of the cells assume an irregularly 
hexagonal form, probably because their original shape would be cylindrical, were they not 
squeezed against each other. 

When the young have attained their perfect state, they break their way through the 
iover of the cells, and present a most singular aspect as they struggle from the skin, their 
aeads and paws projecting in all directions. In the museum of the College of Surgeons 
oiay be seen some very good specimens of the Surinam Toad, some being entire, and others 

SURINAM TOAD. Pi'ya. Americdna. 

dissected so as to show the cells and their structure. After the whole brood have left 
their mother's back, the cells begin to fill up again, closing from below as well as from 
above, and becoming irregularly puckered on the floors. The cells in the middle of the back 
are the first developed ; the whole process occupies rather more than eighty days. 

As its name implies, this singular creature inhabits Surinam, but is also found in 
various parts of Central America. In spite of its repulsive aspect, the negroes are said to 
eat its flesh. 

The colour of the Surinam Toad is brownish olive above, and whitish below. The skin 
is covered with a large number of tiny and very hard granules, among which are 
interspersed some horny tubercular projections. The snout is of a very curious shape, the 
nostrils being lengthened into a kind of leathery tube. The throat of the male is furnished 
with a very large bony apparatus, of a triangular box-like shape, and within are two 
movable pieces by which the voice is modulated. 

WE now come to the Batrachians with tongues. In the greater number of these 
creatures, the tongue is fastened to the front of the mouth and free behind, the tip pointing 
down the throat. The prey is taken by the rapid throwing forward of this tongue, and 
its equally rapid withdrawal into the mouth, carrying the doomed creature on its tip, 
with such celerity that the eye can hardly follow the movement. 

The skeleton of the adult Frog is worthy of a short notice before we proceed to the 
farther investigation of these remarkable creatures. The first point which strikes the 
observer is the shape of the head, and the enormous size of the orbits of the eyes, which are 
so large, that when the skull is placed flat upon an open book, several words can be read 



through the orifices. Very little room is left for the brain, and, in consequence, the 
intellectual powers of the Frog are but slender. 

The vertebra are furnished with projections at each side, but the ribs are totally 
wanting. On account of this deficiency, the process of respiration cannot be maintained 
as is usual among the better developed beings, but is similar to that which is employed by 
the tortoises. The needful movements are made not by the sides but by the throat, so 
that if a quiescent Frog be watched, it appears to be continually gulping something down 
its throat, as is indeed the case, the material being air, which is thus forced into the 
beautifully formed lungs. The formation of the pelvis is rather peculiar, and can be 
comprehended by reference to the illustration. 

The hind-legs are extremely long, and the toes so much lengthened, that in the 
common English Frog the middle toe occupies about three-fifths of the length of the entire 
body, and in some species is even more produced. Owing to the peculiar shape of the 
limbs, the Frog when reposing sits almost upright, and is at once ready for the extra- 
ordinarily long leaps which it can 
take when alarmed. The usual 
mode of progression is by a series 
of jumps, though of short range, 
but the creature will often crawl 
after the fashion of the toad the 
presence of a snake seeming al- 
most always to have the effect of 
causing the change of action. 

The skin of the Frog is very- 
porous, and is capable of ab- 
sorbing and exuding water with 
wonderful rapidity. If a Frog, 
for example, be kept for some 
time in a perfectly dry spot, it 
loses its fine, sleek condition, be- 
comes thin and apparently ema- 
ciated, and assumes a very pitiable 
appearance. But if it be then 
placed merely on wet blotting 
paper, its thirsty skin drinks the 
needful moisture, and it soon be- 
comes quite plump and fresh. A 
familiar proof of the extreme 
porosity of the skin is afforded 
by the dead Frogs which are often 

found on the high road or dry paths in the middle of summer, and which are dried into 
a shrivelled, horny mass, which would be shapeless but for the bones of the skeleton 
around which the skin and muscles contract. 

The whole of these creatures are most tenacious of life, suffering the severest wounds 
without appearing to be nmch injured at the time, and bearing the extremes of cold and 
hunger with singular endurance. Heat, however, is always distasteful to the Frog, and 
when carried to any extreme becomes fatal. In the hot countries, where Frogs of 
various species exist, they all unite in the one habit of avoiding the hot beams of the sun 
by hiding in burrows or crevices during the day, and only emerging from their refuge in 
the night-time, or during rainy weather. Many species even dive below the muddy soil 
of pools as soon as the water has nearly disappeared, and there remain moist, torpid, and 
content until the next rains refill their home with the needful waters. 

Most of the Frogs have a power of changing the colour of the skin, which is ofter 
found to lose its brightest tints and become dark brown or nearly black in a very short 
space of time. Any sudden alarm will often produce this change, the presence of a snake 
being an almost unfailing means of effecting this object ; and it is known that the colour 



of the Frogs is greatly affected by the locality in which they are at the time placed. The 
Tree-Frogs are more subject to this change, of colour than the ordinary species ; but even 
our common English Frog is well known to alter from yellow to brownish black in a very 
short space of time. This change is produced by some mental emotion acting upon certain 
masses of pigment or colouring matter in the skin ; and for a farther elucidation of the 
subject, I must refer the reader to my " Common Objects for the Microscope," where the 
pigment masses are drawn as seen through the microscope, and their peculiar action 

ONE of the most singular members of this group of animals is the PARADOXICAL FEOG 
( Pseudis paradoxa). 

This curious creature is a native of Surinam and South America, and is remarkable for 
the enormous size of the larva, or tadpole. As a general rule, and indeed, as might 
be expected, the generality of the batrachians are smaller in their larval than in 
their adult state ; the tadpole of the common Frog being a good example. But the 
Paradoxical Frog exhibits a phenomenon which is perhaps found in none of the higher 
animals, though common enough among the non-vertebrated beings, and is less in its 
adult state than in its preliminary form of tadpole. 

The tail of this tadpole is exceedingly voluminous, and the body has other envelopes 
or appendages, which, when thrown off as it proceeds to its perfect state, reduce the bulk 
so greatly that the earlier observers thought that the creature reversed the usual order of 
nature, and from a Frog became a tadpole. Some persons went even farther, and said that 
it was changed from a Frog into a fish. The appropriate title of Paradoxical was given to 
it in allusion to this opinion. 

Strange, however, as this phenomenon may appear, and remarkable as it undoubtedly 
is, it finds abundant parallels in the insects, where the larva is often of greater bulk than 
the perfect insect, or imago, as it is technically called. We may take for example the 
common silkworm, where the caterpillar is extremely large when compared with the moth 
into which it afterwards changes ; or that great, fat, bulky, subterranean grub, which eats 
continually for three years, becomes so obese that it is forced to lie on its side, and 
afterwards turns into the neat, compact, and active little cockchaffer. 

The colour of the Paradoxical Frog is greenish, spotted with brown, and streaked 
irregularly with brown along its legs and thighs. The snout is tapering, and rather pointed 
in front. 

OUR next example of the Banidse is the AFRICAN BULL-FROG. 

This fine species is spread over the whole of Southern Africa, but is found most plenti- 
fully towards the eastern coast, where it always frequents springs, pools, or the vicinity of 
fresh water. It is most impatient of drought, and when a more than usually dry season 
has parched the ground and rendered the hot soil uncomfortable for the delicate skin of 
the creature's feet and abdomen, these Frogs are said to congregate in the pools in great 
numbers, and just before the water has quite dried up, to burrow deeply into the soft mud 
and there lie until the next rains bring the welcome moisture. 

Fifty of these large Frogs have been seen gathered together in one little pool, far from 
any other water. It is, moreover, evident that they must have some place of concealment, 
for they are sure to appear in great numbers after a few heavy rains, and it is quite con- 
sistent with probability that they should possess a simple and obvious method of preserving 
their lives during the frequent droughts of the climate in which they reside. 

Dr. Livingstone mentions this fine species in his well-known work on Southern Africa. 
" Another article of which our children partook with eagerness was a very large Frog, called 
' Matlametlo.' 

These enormous Frogs, which, when cooked, look like chickens, are supposed by the 
natives to fall down from thunder-clouds, because after a heavy shower the pools which 
are filled, and retain water a few days, become instantly alive with this loud croaking 
pugnacious game. This phenomenon takes place in the driest parts of the desert, and in 
places where to an ordinary observer there is not a sign of life. 

AFRICAN BULL-FROG. TomopteriM adspersu.. 

Having been once benighted in a district of the Kalahari, where there was no prospect 
of getting water for our cattle for a day or two, I was surprised to hear in the fine still 
evening the croaking of Frogs. Walking out until I was certain that the musicians were 
between me and our fire, I found that they could be merry on nothing else but a prospect 
of rain. 

From the bushmen I afterwards learned that the Matlame'tlo makes a hole at the root 
of certain bushes, and there ensconces himself during the months of drought. As he 
seldom emerges, a large variety of spider takes advantage of the hole, and makes its web 
across the orifice. He is thus furnished with a window and screen gratis, and no one but 
a bushman would think of searching beneath a spider's web for a Frog. They completely 
eluded any search on the occasion referred to ; and as they rush forth into the hollows 
filled by the thunder-showers when the rain is actually falling, and the Bechuanas are 
cowering under their skin garments, the sudden chorus struck up simultaneously from all 
sides seems to indicate a descent from the clouds. 

The presence of these Matlame'tlo in the desert in a time of drought was rather a 
disappointment, for I had been accustomed to suppose that the note was always emitted by 
them when they were chin-deep in water. Their music was always regarded in other 
spots as the most pleasant sound that met the ear after crossing portions of the sandy 
desert ; and I could fully appreciate the sympathy for these animals shown by ^Esop, 
himself an African." 

It is a large and handsome species, but becomes duller in colour as it increases in age. 
The young, however, are very lightly tinted. The general colour is greenish brown above, 
with a decided rusty wash, variegated with mottlings of reddish brown, and streaked and 
spotted with yellow. The green takes a brighter and purer hue along the sides of the head 
and legs. The abdomen is yellow, mottled with orange, and the chin is striped and splashed 
with brown. The eyes are very curious and beautiful, being of a rich chestnut hue, covered 
with a profusion of little golden white dots, which shine with a metallic lustre. 

"When young, the yellow lines on the body are edged with jetty black, and the legs are 
covered with bold black bars. The head is stout and rather flat, and the skin of the body 


:/- ' " 
SHAD-KUOG. ;iaa haleeina. 

is puckered into longitudinal folds. The lower jaw is remarkable for two large, bony, 
tooth-like projections in front. The ordinary length of a full-grown specimen is about 
six inches. 

WE now come to the very large genus of which our common English Frog is so 
familiar an example, and which finds representatives in all except cold latitudes. The 
very handsome SHAD-FKOG derives its popular name from its habit of making its appear- 
ance on land at the same time that the shads visit the shore. The specific title haleeina 
also alludes to this circumstance, as the Indian word for a shad is halec. As the herrings 
appear about the same season, the Frog is called by the Swedes SILL-HOPPETOSSE, or 
Herring-hopper, the latter name being much in use in Pennsylvania. 

This Frog requires much moisture, and is seldom seen at any distance from the banks 
of rivers or pools of fresh water. Sometimes, however, when the dew lies very heavily on 
the grass, the Shad-Frog makes its way over the fields to spots far from the water-side, but 
takes care to return before the hot sunbeams have dried up the grateful moisture of the 
herbage. The food of this reptile consists chiefly of insects. It is a very active creature, 
and ever lively, making leaps of eight or ten feet in length. 

It is thought by many persons to rank among the handsomest of the froggish tribe. 
The general colour is light golden green, variegated with four rows of olive spots, edged 
with rich gold. One regular row of these spots runs along each side of the spine, and the 
others are scattered rather vaguely along the sides. The throat is white with a silvery 
lustre, and the abdomen whitish yellow. The aural vesicles are brown, with a circular 


centre of azure-blue, and look like two little targets on the side of the head. The eyes 
are very large, of a beautiful golden lustre, and with a bold black streak drawn horizontally 
through their centre. The legs are exceedingly long in proportion to the size of the body, 
being five inches in length, whereas the body measures scarcely three inches. This length 
of limb and lightness of body adds greatly to the leaping powers, for which this creature 
is so celebrated. 

ANOTHEK very common and very pretty Frog is found in Northern America. This is 
the PICKEREL-FROG, so called because it enjoys a sad pre-eminence among anglers as a 
bait for pike, too fortunate if it can be snapped up at once by the voracious fish, instead 
of dangling for a season in mid-water, with a hook delicately inserted under its skin so 
as to keep it lively as long as possible, and prevent it from losing by death its attractive 

It is mostly found in or near the salt marshes, and is remarkable for possessing a 
powerful and extremely disagreeable odour. In spite, however, of this seeming drawback, 
its flesh is said to be very delicate, and to be quite as good as that of the edible Frog 
of Europe. 

The colouring of this species is very striking, on account of its irregularly squared 
aspect. The ground tint is pale brown above, covered with moderately large square 
spots of dark brown arranged like the stones of a tesselated pavement, and producing a 
somewhat regular pattern. A bright yellow line, not raised above the general surface, 
runs from behind each eye, and the under parts are yellowish white. It is quite a little 
Frog, being under three inches in length. 

UPON the accompanying illustration is presented a figure of the celebrated BULL-FROG 
of America, one of the largest and most conspicuous of its kind. 

This enormous batrachian is perhaps the best swimmer among the Frog race, having 
been known to live for several years in water without any support for its feet. It leads a 
solitary life for the greater part of its existence, living in a hole near the water, and 
seldom leaving its domicile by day unless when suddenly alarmed. If frightened by an 
unknown sound or sight, the Bull-Frog leaps at once into the water, and instead of diving 
to the bottom immediately, skims along the surface for a few yards before it disappears. 

During the breeding-season, these huge Frogs assemble together in great multitudes, 
cengregating to the amount of four or five hundred in some pool or marsh, sitting with 
their bodies half submerged, and making night hideous with their horrid bellowing 
cries. Few persons, except those who have had personal experience, and who have lost 
night after night of needful sleep by the ceaseless noise, can imagine the loudness of 
voice and variety of tone possessed by the different species of Frogs. And travellers 
who lie awake at night, unwilling hearers of the nocturnal concerts, are disposed to envy 
the happy ignorance of those whose calmer lot is cast in countries where the drummings, 
bellowings, chatterings, and pipings of the Frog race are practically unknown. Among 
these nightly musicians the Bull-Frog is the loudest and most pertinacious ; mostly 
remaining quiet by day, but sometimes exulting in a black cloud or a heavy shower, and 
raising its horrid din even in the hours of daylight. 

It is a most voracious creature, feeding mostly on snails and similar prey, which it 
catches on its nocturnal excursions from its domicile, but often devouring animals of a 
larger size, such as crayfish, two of which crustaceans have been found in the stomach of 
a single Bull-Frog, and even gobbling down an occasional chicken or duckling. Taking 
advantage of its voracity, the inhabitants of the country are in the habit of catching it 
by means of a rod and line. The hook is generally baited with an insect, and gently 
drawn along the ground near the Frog, which leaps upon it, seizes it, and is hooked 
without difficulty. It is rather curious that the Frog will not touch the insect as long as 
it is allowed to rest quietly on the ground, but as soon as the line is pulled, so as to make 
the insect move, it is at once pounced upon. Our English Frogs and toads have the 
same custom. 

The flesh of the Bull-Frog is very delicately flavoured, and in some places the creature 
is kept in captivity and fed for table. 

BULL-FROG. Rana mugiens. 

This species is exceedingly active, making leaps of eight or ten feet in length and five 
feet in height. There is a well-known story of a race between a Bull-Frog and an Indian, 
the former to have three jumps in advance, and the distance about forty yards to a 
pond from which the Frog had been taken. When the parties were ready to start, the 
glowing tip of a burning stick was applied to the Bull-Frog, which set off at such a 
rate, and made such astonishing leaps to get into the welcome water, that its human 
opponent was vanquished in the race. 

In some places this creature is never disturbed, as it is supposed, perhaps with some 
justice, to aid in keeping the water pure. The popular name of Bull-Frog is derived from 
its cry, which is said to resemble the bellowing of the animal whose name it bears. 
Several species of Frog have been classed under the same popular name. 

The colour of the Bull-Frog is brown, mottled with black above, and taking a greener 
hue upon the head. The abdomen is greyish white, and the throat is white dotted with 
green. The length of the head and body of the large species is rather more than six 
inches, and a fine specimen will sometimes measure nineteen or twenty inches from the 
nose to the extremity of its feet. The skin of the back is smooth, and without any 
longitudinal fold. 

THERE is another tolerably common species inhabiting the same country, which is also 
popularly called the Bull-Frog, but is known among men of science as Rana cldmitans. 
It may be readily distinguished from the bull-Frog, which it otherwise greatly resembles, 
by the presence of a glandular fold on each side of the back. It is a very noisy creature, 
with a sharper and more yelping cry than the preceding species. When disturbed, it 
shoots at once into the water, and there sets up its peculiar cry. It is more active than 
the common bull-Frog, and if once released, is almost certain to escape, from the great 
length and rapidity of its leaps, the creature never seeming to pause between two jumps, 
but springing off the earth with an instantaneous rebound not unlike the flying leaps 
of the jerboa or kangaroo. It is a moisture-loving species, and is never found fa^ 
from water. 

WE now come to the best known of all the batrachians, the COMMON FROG of 

COMMON FROG. Rana temporario. 

The general form and appearance of this creature are too well known to need much 
description. It is found plentifully in all parts of England, wandering to considerable 
distances from water, and sometimes getting into pits, cellars, and similar localities, where 
it lives for years without ever seeing water. The food of the adult Frog is wholly of an 
animal character, and consists of slugs, possibly worms, and insects of nearly every 
kind, the wire-worm being a favourite article of diet. A little colony of Frogs is most 
useful in a garden, as they will do more to keep down the various insect vermin that 
injure the garden, than can be achieved by the constant labour of a human being. 

The chief interest of the Frog lies in the curious changes which it undergoes before it 
attains its perfect condition. Every one is familiar with the huge masses of transparent 
jelly-like substance, profusely and regularly dotted with black spots, which lie in the 
shallows of a river or the ordinary ditches that intersect the fields. Each of these little 
black spots is the egg of a Frog, and is surrounded with a globular gelatinous envelope 
about a quarter of an inch in diameter. According to gipsy lore, rheumatism may be 
cured by plunging into a bath filled with Frog spawn. 

On comparing these huge masses with the dimensions of the parent Frog, the observer 
is disposed to think that so bulky a substance must be the aggregated work of a host of 
Frogs. Such, however, is not the case, although the mass of spawn is forty or fifty times 
larger than the creature which laid it. The process is as follows : The eggs are always 
laid under water, and when first deposited, are covered with a very slight but firm 
membranous envelope, so as to take up very little space. No sooner, however, are they 
left to develop, than the envelope begins to absorb water with astonishing rapidity, and 
in a short time the eggs are inclosed in the centre of their jelly-like globes, and thus 
kept well apart} from each other. 

In process of time, certain various changes take place in the egg, and at the proper 
period the form of the young Frog begins to become apparent. In this state it is a black 
^rub-like creature, with a large head and a flattened tail. By degrees it gains strength, 
and at last fairly breaks its way through the egg and is launched upon a world of 
dangers, under the various names of tadpole, pollywog, toe-biter or horseuaiL 


As it is intended for the present to lead an aquatic life, its breathing apparatus 
is formed on the same principle as the gills of a fish, but is visible externally, and 
when fully developed consists of a double tuft of finger-like appendages on each side 
of the head. The tadpole, with the fully developed branchiae, is shown at fig. a on 
the accompanying illustration. No sooner, however, have these organs attained their 
size than they begin again to diminish, the shape of the body and head being at 
the same time much altered, as is seen in fig. b. In a short time they entirely 
disappear, being dravn into the cavity of the chest and guarded externally by a 
kind of gill cover. 

Other changes are taking place meanwhile. Just behind the head two little pro- 
jections appear through the skin, which soon develop into legs, which, however, are not 

at all employed for progression, as the tadpole wriggles its 
way through the water with that quick undulation of the flat 
tail which is so familiar to us all. The creature then bears 
b c the appearance represented in fig. c. 

Jik ^15k Jlk Presently another pair of legs make their appearance in 

^^Rk* iH ^^ front, the tail is gradually absorbed into the body not falling 

Mr* ^V^ ^n ^> according to the popular belief the branchiae vanish, and 

the lungs are developed. Fig. d represents a young Frog just 

/ \ before the tail is fully absorbed. 

C The internal changes are as marvellous as the external. 

) 1 When first hatched, the young tadpole is to all intents and 

purposes a fish, has fish-like bones, fish-like gills, and a 
heart composed of only two chambers, one auricle and one 
ventricle. But in proportion to its age, these organs receive 
corresponding modifications, a third chamber for the heart 
being formed by the expansion of one of the large arteries, 
TADPOLES. the vessels of the branchiae becoming gradually suppressed 

and their place supplied by beautifully cellular lungs, formed 
by a development of certain membranous sacs that appear 
to be analogous to the air-bladders of the fishes. 

The Frog, contracted as are its intellectual powers, is yet susceptible to human 
influence, and can be tamed by kind treatment. Mr. Bell mentions a curious instance 
where one of these creatures became so completely domesticated, that it used to come 
nightly from a hole in the skirting-boards where it had established itself, partake of food 
offered to it by the members of the family, and even jump upon the hearth-rug in winter 
in order to enjoy the warmth of the fire. A favourite cat, which inhabited the same 
house, took a strange fancy to the Frog, and these seemingly incongruous companions 
were to be constantly seen sitting together on the hearth-rug, the Frog nestling under the 
soft warm fur of the cat. The Frog was, however, more than a year an inmate of the 
house before it became domesticated, and for many months would retreat to its stronghold 
when approached. 

Stories of so-called " showers of Frogs " are often seen in the papers, and as a general 
rule are little to be credited, the solution of the supposed phenomenon being merely that 
a shower of rain has induced the creatures to come simultaneously from their retreats. 
There are, however, instances where credible spectators have seen them fall, and in such 
cases the little creatures were probably sucked up by a waterspout, or even by a brisk 
whirlwind, together with the water in which they were disporting, carried away for some 
distance, and at last dropped on the ground, as is sometimes the case with sticks, stones, 
and leaves, picked up by a passing whirlwind. 

The general colour of the common Frog is greenish yellow, or br,own, the same 
individual often passing through all these colours in a few days. A long patch of blackish 
brown or warm brown is placed behind each of the eyes, and it is yellowish white below. 
There are no teeth in the lower jaw, and only a single row of very tiny teeth in the upper 
jaw and on the palate. The ordinary length of the Frog is rather less than three inches, 
aud the total length of the hinder leg is about four inches. 

BANDIED FROG. Ran a /ascu 

A VEK5T pretty species of this genus is found in Southern Africa. This is the BANDED 
FKOG, remarkable for the beautiful stripes which adorn its body, and the inordinate length 
of the second toe of the hind foot. 

This pretty creature is not very plentiful in any one locality, but is spread widely 
throughout the Cape district and the whole of Southern Africa. It is very active, being 
a good leaper, and brisk in all its movements. The second toe of the hind foot is truly 
remarkable. The whole of the toes are but slightly webbed, and project boldly beyond 
the connecting membrane ; but the second toe is nearly as long as the whole body, which 
is longer than in the generality of Frogs. The object of this exceeding development is 
not very clear. 

The general colour of this species is wood-brown, upon which are drawn six dark 
streaks, the two centre stripes running nearly the entire length of the body. The hinder 
part of the thigh is orange-brown, and the under parts are yellowish white. The length 
of the head and body is nearly two inches. 

THE celebrated EDIBLE FROG, or GREEN FROG of Europe (Eana esculenta), also belongs 
to this large genus. This handsome species is common in all the warmer parts of the 
Continent, but in the vicinity of large cities is seldom seen, except in the ponds wljere it 
is preserved, and whence issues a horrid nocturnal concert in the breeding time. The 
proprietors of these froggeries supply the market regularly, and draw out the Frogs with 
large wooden rakes as they are wanted. In Paris these creatures are sold at a rather high 
price for the table, and as only the hind legs are eaten, a dish of Frogs is rather an 
expensive article of diet. 

It is needful to make a very early visit to the market, four or five A.M. being about the 
best time, to see the manner in which the Frogs are brought to market. They are 
generally sold by women, each of whom has by her side two tubs or barrels, one 
containing living Frogs, and the other having a leather band nailed to the side, in which 
is stuck a sharp, broad-bladed knife. When the purchaser has bargained for a certain 
number, the seller plunges her left hand into the one barrel, brings out a Frog by its legs, 
lays it across the edge of the second barrel, and witii a single cut of the knife, severs the 
hind legs just above the pelvis, leaving the whole of the body and fore-quarters to fall 
into the tub. The hind legs are then carefully skinned, and dressed in various ways, 
that with white sauce seeming to be the best, at all events according to my own taste. 
They require considerable cooking, but when properly dressed have a most delicate and 

HORNED FROG. Cer&tophrys arrnuta. 

peculiar flavour, which has been compared, but not very happily, to the wing of a chicken. 
I would suggest that a mixture of the smelt and the breast of the spring chicken would 
convey a good idea of the Edible Frog when cooked. 

Poachers are very apt to invade the froggeries, and without entering the boundaries 
often contrive to kidnap a goodly number of the inmates by a very curious mode of 
angling, something like " bobbing " for eels. They get a very long fishing-rod, tie a line 
of sufficient length to the tip, and at the end of the line they fasten, in place of a hook 
and bait, a simple piece of scarlet cloth. Thus prepared, they push the rod over the 
fence, let the scarlet rag j ust touch the surface of the water, and shake the rod so as to 
make the rag quiver and jump about. The Frog, thinking that it has found a very 
savoury morsel, leaps at the rag, closes its mouth firmly upon it, and is neatly tossed out 
of the water and over the hedge before it can make up its mind to loosen its hold. 

The colour of this species is bright green spotted with black, and having three bold 
yellow stripes along the back. The under parts are yellowish. In size it is rather larger 
than the common species. 

THE remarkable HOENED FROG is one of the quaintest species among the Frog tribe. 

There are several species belonging to this genus, all inhabiting Southern America, 
and all notable for the singular development of the upper eyelids, which are prolonged 
into hard, horn-like points. In the present species the back is furnished with a bony 
shield, and the prominences over the eyes are bold and well defined. The body is short, 
stout, and squat, the skin covered with tubercles and folds, and the opening of the mouth 
enormous. It is a large and voracious species, one specimen when opened being found to 



have swallowed a full-grown land-Frog ( Cystignathus fuscus), belonging to the same 
genus as our next example. The toes are long, powerful, and with hardly a vestige of 
web except just at the base. 

THE little OENATE LAND-FKOG affords a remarkable contrast to the last-mentioned 
species on account of its small dimensions, the activity of its movements, and the beauty 
of its colouring. 

It is found in Georgia and South Carolina, and is always seen on land and dry 
spots, its thirsty frame being amply supplied by the dews and casual rains without 
needing immersion in water. Indeed, this 
Frog is so little conversant with the ele- 
ment usually so familiar to all its tribe, 
that if thrown into water, it makes no 
attempt to swim, but lies helplessly sprawl- 
ing on the surface. On land, however, it 
displays wonderful activity, being of an 
extremely lively nature, and making long 
and bold leaps in rapid succession, so that 
it is not to be captured without consider- 
able difficulty. 

The colour of this species is rather 
variable, but is generally of a soft dove 
tint, on which are placed several oblong 
marks of deep rich brown edged with 
golden-yellow. Below it is silvery white 
granulated with grey. It is a very little 
species, measuring only one inch and a 
quarter when full-grown. 

ANOTHER species of this genus, the 
SENEGAL LAND-FKOG (Cystignathus Sene- 
galensis}, inhabits Southern Africa. 

It resides in burrows in the ground, 
and is tolerably quiet, except before rain 
or on a dull day, when it begins to pipe, 
and continues its curious cry for several 
hours together. The voice of this Frog is 
i sharp piping whistle several times re- 
peated. Dr. A. Smith relates that he was greatly puzzled on hearing this strange 
whistling sound, and made many a fruitless search after the utterer. At last one of the 
Hottentots showed him the animal in its burrow, and after that time he was able to 
procure as many as were desired. 

The head and body of this species are short, puffy, and smooth, and the colour is 
yellowish grey, with three longitudinal bands. Below, it is yellowish white without any 
mottlings. Its length is about two inches. 

THE pretty PAINTED FROG is a European species, being found in Greece, Sicily, and 
Sardinia. It has a rather wide range of locality, as it is not uncommon in Northern 
Africa, along the banks of the Nile, and is tolerably plentiful along the shores of the 

It is fond of water, but seems careless whether it be salt or fresh, and is found 
indifferently in rivers, streams, lakes, and the saline morasses. The common esculent 
Frog possesses similar habits, and the two species are often seen in company. The food 
of the Painted Frog consists of insects, spiders, slugs, and snails, both terrestrial and 
aquatic. There is a difference in the web of the toes in the sexes, those of the female 
being scarcely webbed at all, while in the male the membrane extends to half their 

a M 

ORNATE LAND-FKOG. Cystignutlmn onMus. 

PAINTED FROG. IHscoglosyut pictut. 

length. The thumb is quite rudimentary, and its place is indicated by a small tubercular 

The colour and general aspect of the skin are extremely variable, the difference 
weming to be quite capricious, and not depending on sex or locality. The ground colour 
is usually yellowish green or olive, decorated with spots and having several white 
longitudinal streaks. In some specimens the skin is smooth, while in others it is covered 
with tubercles, and the spots are seldom alike in two individuals, sometimes running 
together so as to form continuous bands. The white lines too are often partially, and 
sometimes wholly absent. In this species the male does not possess any vocal sacs. 

THE reader will remember that in the description of the Surinam Toad, on page 149, 
mention was made of the curious manner in which the female carries her eggs upon her 
back until they have passed through their preliminary stages of existence. A noteworthy 
analogy, close in some respects, but failing singularly in others, is to be found in the NUESE 
FROG of Europe (Alytes obstStricans). 

In this species it is the male that undergoes the anxieties of watching over the young 
offspring, his mate being comparatively free from that duty. 

When the eggs, about sixty in number, are laid, he takes possession of them, and 
fastens them to his legs by means of a glutinous substance, and carries them about with 
him wherever he goes. In process of time, the eggs swell, and become so transparent that 
the black eyes of the future young are seen through their envelopes. Their careful parent 
then proceeds to some spot where he can find still water, deposits them, and departs, 

SOLITARY FROG. Scaphiopiis sotitarius. 

rejoicing in his freedom. The young soon burst their way through the envelopes in which 
they had been surrounded, and swim off merrily. 

Except at such times, the Nurse Frog is seldom seen in the vicinity of water, and even 
at that season, the creature does not care to sw T im about or even to enter the water. The 
colour of this species is olive-brown with small dark spots. Several specimens, with their 
eggs, may be seen in the collection of the British Museum. 

THE very odd-looking species which is popularly and appropriately termed the 
SOLITAEY FKOG is a native of North America, and is remarkable for several peculiarities 
of form, the eye and the foot being chiefly notable. 

It is a land-loving species, never seen in or near water except during the breeding 
season. During the greater part of the year it resides in holes which it SCOODS in the 
sandy soil, and at the bottom of which it sits watching for prey, much like a gigantic ant- 
lion. In order to assist it in digging, the animal is furnished with a flat, sharp-edged spur, 
with which it scoops out the loose soil. Sometimes, however, it wedges itself into the sand, 
tail foremost, and shovels its way downwards much after the fashion of the crab. The hole 
is about six inches in depth. 

Quick though it is in this labour, it is but a sluggish and inactive creature when com- 
pared with most of its kin, being a very poor leaper, and slow in most of its movements. 
It is generally to be seen in the month of March, just after the spring rains, and is a very 
hardy species, caring little for cold, and traversing the snow without apparent inconvenience. 

The eye of the Solitary Frog is very beautiful, and at the same time most remarkable. 
It is large, full, and of a rich topaz hue, and across its centre run two bold black lines at right 
angles to each other, so as to form a crocs very like that which is seen upon starch grains 
when viewed by polarized light. 

Altogether, the aspect of this species is very unique. It looks much more like a toad 
than a frog, and has a remarkably blunt snout. Its general colour is olive, mottled with 
brown above, and covered with tubercles. Along each side of the spine runs, a line of 
"king's yellow," and the under parts are yellowish white. The average length of the 
Solitary Frog rather exceeds two inches. 

M 2 


THE last of the true Frogs which can be mentioned in this work is the BOMBARDIER 
(Bombindtor igneus), a native of many parts of Europe, and common in France. 

It is fond of water, and seldom found in very dry localities. When disturbed, it has 
the power of emitting a strong and very unpleasant odour of garlic, which serves it as a 
means of defence, like the penetrating scent of the common ringed snake. It is active, 
and can both swim and leap well. The eggs are laid in long strings, and the tadpole is of 
a very large size when compared with the earliest state of its perfect existence, and, like 
the paradoxical Frog already described, is larger in the tadpole state than after it has 
assumed its perfect form. 

The colour of the Bombardier is greyish brown above, and orange below, marbled or 
spotted with blue black. 

WE now arrive at another section of Batrachians, including those creatures which are 
known under the title of Toads, and of which the COMMON TOAD of Europe is so familiar 
an example. The members of this section may be known by the absence of teeth in the 
jaws and the well-developed ears. 

The general aspect and habits of this creature are too well known to require more than 
a cursory notice. Few creatures, perhaps, have been more reviled and maligned than the 
Toad, and none with less reason. In the olden days, the Toad was held, to be the very 
compendium of poison, and to have so deadly an effect upon human beings, that two persons 
were related to have died from eating the leaf of a sage bush under which a Toad had 
burrowed. Still, even in those times, it was held to possess two virtues, the one being the 
celebrated jewel supposed to be found in its head, and the other the power of curing 
bleeding at the nose. 

This jewel could not be procured by dissection, but must be obtained by causing the 
owner to eject it. " But the art," says one of the quaint old writers, " is in taking of it out, 
for they say it must be taken out of the head alive before the Toad be dead, with a piece 
of cloth of the colour of red Scarlet, wherewithal they are much delighted, so that while they 
stretch out themselves as it were in sport upon that cloth, they cast out the stone of their 
head, but instantly they sup it up again, unless it be taken from them through some secret 
hole in the said cloth, whereby it falleth into a cistern or vessel of water into which the Toad 
dareth not enter, by reason of the coldnesse of the water. . . . The probation of this Stone is 
by laying of it to a live Toad, and if she lift up her head against it, it is good, but if she 
run away from it, it is a counterfeit." 

The same writer gives, in his own racy language, an account of the use to which even 
so venomous an animal as a Toad may be put by those who know how to employ the 
worst things for the best purposes. " Frederic, the Duke of Saxony, was wont to practis 
in this manner. He had ever a Toad pierced through with a piece of wood, which Toad 
was dryed in the smoak or shadow, this he rowled in a linnen cloth ; and when he came 
to a man bleeding at the nose, he caused him to hold it fast in his hand until it waxed hot, 
and then would the bloud be stayed. Whereof the Physitians could never give any reason, 
except horrour and fear constrained the bloud to run into his proper place, through fear of 
a Beast so contrary to humane nature. The powder also of a Toad is said to have the 
same vertua" 

For these, and other similar opinions too numerous for mention, there is some little 
foundation. The skin of the Toad's back is covered thickly with little glands, and some 
larger glands are gathered into two sets, one at each side of the back of the head, and secrete 
a liquid substance, with sufficient acridity to make the eyes smart should they be touched 
with this fluid, and to force a dog to loose his hold, if he should pick up a Toad in his 
mouth, and run away with open jaws and foaming mouth. The glands at the back of the 
head secrete a large quantity of liquid, and if pressed, will eject it in little streams to the 
distance of a few inches. 

In France, this poor creature is shamefully persecuted, the idea of its venomous and 
spiteful nature being widely disseminated and deeply rooted. The popular notion is that 

TOAD. Jiv/o vulgarit. 

the Toad is poisonous throughout its life, but that after the age of fifty years it acquires 
venomous fangs like those of the serpents. I once succeeded, but with great difficulty, in 
saving the life of a fine fat Toad that was leisurely strolling in the Forest of Meudon and 
had got into a rut too deep for escape. I had stooped down to remove the poor creature 
from danger, but was dragged away by the bystanders, who quite expected to see me 
mortally bitten, and who proceeded to slaughter the Toad on the spot. "Every one kills 
Toads in France," said they. 

Hearing from them, however, that tobacco was instantaneously fatal to -Toads, I made a 
compromise that they might kill it by putting tobacco on it, but in no other way. The 
experiment was accordingly tried, and I had the pleasure of seeing the creature walk away 
with the tobacco on its back, quite unconscious that it ought to have been dead. One of 
the spectators not only insisted upon the quinquegenarian fangs, but averred that he had 
a pair at home in a box. However, I never could induce him to show them to me. 

In point of fact, the Toad is a most useful animal, devouring all kinds of insect vermin, 
and making its rounds by night when the slugs, caterpillars, earwigs, and other creatures 
are abroad on their destructive mission. Many of the market-gardeners are so well aware 
of the extreme value of the Toad's services, that they purchase Toads at a certain sum per 
dozen, and turn them out' in their grounds. 

Dull and apathetic as the Toad may seem, it has in it an affectionate and observant 
nature, being tamed with wonderful ease, and soon learning to know its benefactors and to 
come at their call Mr. Bell had one of these creatures, which was accustomed to sit on 
one hand and take its food out of the other. Many persons have possessed tame Toads, 
which would leave their hiding place at the sound of a whistle or a call, and come hastily 
up to receive a fly, spider, or beetle. Toads can be rendered useful even in a house, for 
they will wage unceasing war against cockroaches, crickets, moths, flies, and other insect 

It is worthy of notice, that the Toad will never catch an insect or any other prey as 
long as it is stationary, but on the slightest movement, the wonderfiil tongue is flung 
forward, picks up the fly on the tip, and returns to the throat, placing the morsel just in the 


spot where it can be seized by the muscles of the neck, and passed into the stomach. So 
rapidly is the act performed, that Mr. Bell has seen the sides of a Toad twitching con- 
vulsively from the struggles of a beetle just swallowed, and kicking vigorously in the 

Entomologists sometimes make a curious use of the Toad. Going into the fields soon 
after daybreak, they catch all the Toads they can find, kill them, and turn the contents of 
their stomachs into water. On examining the mass of insects that are found in the 
stomach, and which are floated apart in the water, there are almost always some specimens 
of valuable insects, generally beetles, which from their nocturnal habits, small dimensions, 
and sober colouring, cannot readily be detected by human eyes. 

The Toad will also eat worms, and in swallowing them it finds its fore-feet of great use. 
The worm is seized by the middle, and writhes itself frantically into such contortions that 
the Toad would not be able to swallow it but by the aid of the fore-feet, which it uses 
as if they were hands. Sitting quietly down with the worm in its mouth, the Toad pushes 
it further between the jaws first with one paw and then with another, until it succeeds by 
alternate gulps and pushes to force the worm fairly down its throat. 

These paws are also useful in aiding it to rid itself of its cuticle, which is shed at 
intervals, as is. the case with many reptiles and Batrachians. The process is so singular, 
and so admirably described by Mr. Bell, that it must be given in his own words : 

" I one day observed a large Toad, the skin of which was particularly dry and dull in 
its colour, with a light streak down the mesial line of its back ; and on examining further, 
I discovered a corresponding line along its belly. This proved to arise from an entire 
slit in the old cuticle, which exposed to view the new and brighter skin underneath. 
Finding, therefore, what was going to happen, I watched the whole detail of this 
curious process. 

I soon observed that the two halves of the skin, thus completely divided, continued to 
recede further and further from the centre, and became folded and rugose ; and after a 
short space, by means of the continued twitching of the animal's body, it was brought 
down in folds on the sides. The hinder leg, first on one side and then on the other, was 
brought forward under the arm, which was pressed down upon it, and on the hinder limb 
being withdrawn, its cuticle was left inserted under the arm, and that of the anterior 
extremity was now loosened, and at length drawn off by the assistance of the mouth. 
The whole cuticle was thus detached, and was now pushed by the two hands into 
the mouth in a little ball, and swallowed at a single gulp. I afterwards had repeated 
opportunities of watching this curious process, which did not materially vary in any 

Though apparently unfit for food, the Toad is eaten by some nations, and certainly is 
not more unprepossessing than the iguana. The Chinese, however, are in the habit 
of eating a species of Toad for the purpose of increasing their bodily powers, thinking 
that the flesh of this creature has the property of strengthening bone and sinew. 

This animal is extremely tenacious of life, and is said to possess the power of 
retaining life for an unlimited period if shut up in a completely air-tight cell. Many 
accounts are in existence of Toads which have been discovered in blocks of stone when 
split open, and the inference has been drawn that they were inclosed in the stone while 
it was still in the liquid state, some hundreds of thousands of years ago, according to 
the particular geological period, and had remained without food or air until the stroke of 
the pick brought them once more to the light of day. 

Such an account appears at once to be so opposed to all probability as to challenge a 
doubt ; but if there had been sufficient testimony, even to one such fact, an unprejudiced 
thinker would be justified in placing it among the wonderful but veritable occurrences 
that occasionally startle mankind. But there really seems to be no account which is 
sufficiently accurate to permit of such a conclusion. In more than one case, the whole 
story has proved to be nothing more than an imposition ; and in others, there is hardly 
sufficient evidence to show that some crevice did not exist, which would supply the 
inclosed animal with sufficient air for its narrow wants, and permit many minute insects 
to crawl into the cavity which held the imprisoned Toad. 


NATTERJACK. Bufo calamitn. 

There is no doubt that in many cases a little Toad has crept into a rocky crevice after 
prey or in search of a hiding place, and by reason of its rapid increase in size been unable 
to make its exit. As, moreover, the creature is very long lived, it would, by frequent 
movements, give a polish to the walls of its cell in a few years ; a circumstance that has 
been employed as a proof of the antiquity of the Toad and its residence. Similar 
instances are known where the animal has been found enclosed in timber. Here, 
however, is less difficulty in accounting for the fact, because the growth of wood over a 
wounded part is often extremely rapid, and has been known to cause the enclosure of 
nails, tools, and even birds' nests with their eggs. Even in such a case, there is not 
sufficient evidence to prove that the closure was absolutely perfect, and that the Toad 
was hermetically sealed in the wooden walls of its cell 

Dr. Buckland made some experiments on this supposed property of the Toad, and 
inclosed a number of these creatures in artificial chambers, made to represent as nearly 
as possible the rock and wood in which the imprisoned Toads have been found. None of 
these experiments met with success ; and in those cases where the Toads lived longest, 
the plaster was found imperfect. Some of the Toads whose cells were really air-tight 
died in a month or two. 

It may, however, be reasonably urged that such experiments do not fairly represent 
the original conditions under which an animal could survive for so long a period, and that 
in order to carry out the experiment in a consistent manner, the Toads ought to have been 
procured when very young, inclosed in a chamber with a moderate aperture, and that 
aperture lessened gradually, so as to prepare the creature by degrees for its long fast and 
deprivation of air. For a good summary of this subject and a collection of almost 


every narrative, I may refer the reader to Mr. Gosse's " Romance of Natural History," 
second series. 

The development of the Toad is much like that of the Frog, except that the eggs are 
not laid in masses but in long strings, containing a double series of eggs placed alter- 
nately. These chains are about three or four feet in length, and one-eighth of an inch in 
diameter. They are deposited rather later than those of the Frog, and the reptiles, which 
are smaller and blacker than the Frog larvae, do not assume their perfect form until August 
or September. The general colour of the Toad is blackish-grey with an olive tinge, and 
the tubercles which stud the surface are brown. Beneath, it is yellowish white, tinged 
with grey, and in some specimens spotted with black. The full size of the Toad is not 
well ascertained, as it seems to have almost unlimited capacities for increasing in size 
together with years. The length of a very large specimen is about three inches 
and a half. 

ANOTHER species of Toad, the NATTERJACK, is found in many parts of England. It may 
be known from the common species by the short hind-legs, the more prominent eyes, the 
less webbed feet, the yellow line along the middle of the back, and the black bands on the 
legs. It is not so aquatic as the common Toad, haunting dry places, and seldom approaching 
water except during the breeding season. Its ordinary length is about three inches. 

The GREEN or VARIABLE TOAD (Bufo viridis) is rather a handsome species, and is 
found plentifully in the south of France. It derives its popular names from the large 
spots of deep green with which its upper surface is adorned. Many of the Batrachiai^ 
possess the capability of changing their hues according to locality or through mental emotion, 
and the Green Toad is extremely conspicuous in this respect, wearing different colours in 
light and shade, sleep and wakefulness. 

The WARTY TOAD of Fernando Po (Bufo tuberosus) is a singular looking species, 
remarkable for the extreme development of the hard tubercles on the back, and being 
among Batrachians analogous to the moloch among lizards, or the porcupine among 
mammalia. The whole upper surface of the body is thickly covered with large tubercles, 
each having a horny spine in the centre. The glands on the back of the head are large 
and very conspicuous. Even the under parts are covered with tubercles, but without the 
spine in the centre. Above each eyelid is a group of horny tubercles, so that the creature 
presents a most remarkable appearance. Its length is about three inches. 

OUR last example of these creatures is the large AGUA TOAD of America (Bufo agua). 

This large species digs holes in the ground, and resides therein. It is one of the 
noisiest of its tribe, uttering a loud snoring kind of bellow by night and sometimes by day, 
and being so fond of its own voice that even if taken captive it begins its croak as soon as 
it is placed on the ground. It is very voracious, and as it is thought to devour rats, has 
been imported in large numbers from Barbadoes into Jamaica, in order to keep down the 
swarms of rats that devastate the plantations. When these creatures were first set loose 
in their new home, they began to croak with such unanimous good- will that they frightened 
the inhabitants sadly, and caused many anxious householders to sit up all night. 

This Toad grows to a great size, often obtaining a length of seven inches, and nearly 
the same measurement in breadth. It may be recognised by the great enlargement of the 
bone over the eyes, and the enormous dimensions of the glands behind the head. Its colour 
is extremely variable. 

WE now come to the Tree-Frogs, or Tree-Toads, so called from their habits of climbing 
trees, and attaching themselves to the branches or leaves by means of certain discs on the 
toes, like those of the geckos. In the first family the toes are webbed, and the processes 
of the vertebras are cylindrical. A good example will be found in the SAVANNAH CRICKET 
FROG 01 America. 

This species is very common in its own country, and is found throughout a very large 
rarge of territories, specimens in the collection of the British Museum having been taken 
from several Northern and Southern States of America. It is a light, merry little animal* 




uttering its cricket-like chirp with continual reiteration, even in captivity. Should it be 
silent, an event sometimes greatly to be wished, it can at any time be roused to utterance 
by sprinkling it with water. It is easily tamed, learns to know its owner, and will take 
flies from his hand. 

This species frequents the borders of stagnant pools, and is frequently found on the 
leaves of aquatic plants and of shrubs that overhang the water. It is not, however, 
possessed of such strongly adhe- 
sive powers as the true Tree- 
Frogs, and is unable to sustain 
itself on the under side of a leaf. 
It is very active, as may be sur- 
mised from the slender body and 
very long hind-legs, and, when 
frightened, can take considerable 
leaps for the purpose of avoiding 
the object of its terror. 

The colour of this species is 
greenish brown above, diversified 
by several large oblong spots 
edged with white, and a streak 
of green, or sometimes chestnut, 
which runs along the spine and 
divides at the back of the head, 
sending off a branch to each eye. 
The legs are banded with dark- 
brown, and the under surface is 
yellowish grey with a slight tinge 
of pink. It is but a little creature, 
measuring only an inch and a half 
in length. 

Another species (Hyla Oarolinensis) is sometimes called by the same popular title, 
because its voice, like that of the preceding species, bears some resemblance to that of a 
cricket. Being one of the true Tree-Frogs, it is not a frequenter of the water, but proceeds 
to the topmost branches of trees, and there chirps during the night 

ANOTHER family, containing the well-known Tree-Frog of Europe, has the toes webbed, 
and the processes of the vertebrae flattened. The best-known species is the common GEEEN 
TREE-FKOG of Europe, now so familiar from its frequent introduction into fern-cases and 
terrestrial vivaria. 

This pretty creature is mostly found upon trees, clinging either to their branches or 
leaves, and being generally in the habit of attaching itself to the under side of the leaves, 
which it resembles so strongly in colour, that it is almost invisible even when its 
situation is pointed out. When kept in a fern-case, it is fond of ascending the perpendi- 
cular glass sides, and there sticking firmly and motionless, its legs drawn closely to the 
body, and its abdomen flattened against the glass. 

The food of the Tree-Frog consists almost entirely of insects, worms, and similar 
creatures, which are captured as they pass near the leaf whereto their green foe is adhering. 
It is seldom seen on the ground except during the breeding season, when it seeks the water, 
and there deposits its eggs much in the same manner as the common Frog. The tadpole 
is hatched rather late in the season, and does not attain its perfect form until two full 
months have elapsed. Like the Toad, the Tree-Frog swallows its skin after the change. 
The common Tree-Frog is wonderfully tenacious of life, suffering the severest wounds 
without seeming to be much distressed, and having even been frozen quite stiff in a mass 
of ice without perishing. 

The followi? ^ interesting account of a young Tree-Frog is by Mr. G. S. Ulla- 
thorne : 


" My acquaintance with this interesting reptile (which had already passed through all 
the stages of the tadpole state) began in the following manner : 

1 was at school in Hanover at the time, and used frequently to take walks in the 
neighbouring woods, with a companion. During one of these walks we came across three 
Green Frogs (or rather they came across our path). Guessing at once they were Tree- 
Frogs, and thinking that they were just the things to keep, we were ' down upon them,' and 
tied them up in our handkerchiefs. I contented myself with one, and let my companion 
have the others. When I arrived safely at my journey's end with my Frog, I procured for 
him a good-sized glass jar, put a little water in the bottom, a branched stick for him to 
climb up (though, he generally preferred the sides of the glass), covered the top of the jar 
with a piece of muslin, and installed him on a shelf with a salamander (Salamandra 
maculosa), a ring snake (Natrix torquata), and various other ' pets.' 

My great amusement was to watch the little creature eat. When I put a fly into his 
jar, as long as the fly remained quiet, the Frog took no notice of it, but directly the fly 
began buzzing about, the Frog would wake up from his lethargic state, and on a suitable 
opportunity would make a leap at lite poor fly, adroitly catch it in his mouth (though he 
sometimes missed his mark), and, I need hardly add, swallow it. On one occasion, I gave 
my little favourite a very large ' blue-bottle,' almost as large as himself, but nothing 
daunted, he caught it in his mouth and endeavoured to swallow it, though in vain, for had 
I not been there I verily believe he would have been choked. 

Before he changed his skin, which he did now and then, his colour became much darker 
and looked more dirty, and he went into quite a torpid state, but when the event was over, 
he appeared greener and livelier than ever. One day, after I had had him some time, I 
was playing upon the pianoforte, when I was astonished by an extraordinary sound, but 
on looking round I discovered the cause of the great noise, for there was my Frog swollen 
to an immense extent under the chin, and croaking in a very excited manner, making quite 
a loud noise. I mention this circumstance because it has been imagined that a solitary 
Tree-Frog will not croak, but mine certainly proved to the contrary, for though the first 
croaking was evidently the effect of the piano, yet he would frequently croak after that 
time without being excited by any apparent noise whatever. I may here mention that the 
noise of a quantity of Frogs croaking and nightingales singing, has frequently kept me 
awake for a considerable time during a spring night. 

And now comes the most melancholy part of my story. Leaving my Frog carelessly 
on the window-sill, I went to school ; when I came back there was the glass certainly, and 
the Frog also, but oh ! distressingly melancholy to relate, the water was quite hot from the 
intense heat of the sun, and the poor Frog was scorched, or rather boiled to death he was 
quite discoloured, being instead of green a sort of yellow. And thus ends my tale." 

The colour of this species is green above, sometimes spotted with olive, and a greyish 
yellow streak runs through each eye towards the sides, where it becomes gradually fainter, 
and is at last lost in the green colour of the skin. In some specimens there is a greyish 
spot on the loins. Below, it is of a paler hue, and a black streak runs along the side, dividing 
the vivid green of the back from the white hue of the abdomen. 

The CHANGEABLE TKEE-TOAD is a native of many parts of America, being found as far 
north as Canada, and as far south as Mexico. It is a common species, but owing to its 
faculty of assimilating its colour to the tints of the object on which it happens to be sitting, 
it escapes observation, and is often passed unnoticed in spots where it exists in great 

This is a curious and noteworthy species, as it possesses the capability of changing its 
tints to so great an extent that its true colours cannot be described. It is usually found 
on the trunks of trees and old moss-grown stones, which it so nearly resembles in 
colour, that it can hardly be detected, even when specially sought. The skin of this 
creature will in a short time pass from white through every intermediate shade to dark- 
brown, and it is not an uncommon event to find a cross-shaped mark of dark-brown between 
the shoulders. Old and decaying plum-trees seem to be its favourite resting-places, 
probably because the insects congregate on such trees. 

GREEN TREE-FROG. Hyla arborea. 


It is a noisy creature, especially before rain, and has a curious liquid note, like the 
letter / frequently repeated, and then ending with a sharp, short monosyllable. During 
the breeding season, this Frog leaves the trees and retires to the pools, where it may be 
heard late in the evening. In the winter it burrows beneath the damp soil, and there 
remains until the spring. The contour of this species is very toad-like in shape and 
general appearance, and this resemblance is increased by the skin glands, which secrete a 
peculiarly acrid fluid. 

The upper surface of this creature is, as has already been remarked, too variable for 
description. There is always, however, a little bright yellow on the flanks, and the under 
surface is yellowish white, covered with large granulations. The length of this species 
is about two inches. 

IN the POUCHED FEOG we find a most singular example of structure, the female being 
furnished with a pouch on her back, in which the eggs are placed when hatched, and 
carried about for a considerable period. 

This pouch is clearly analogous to the living cradle of the marsupial animals. It is not 
merely developed when wanted, as is the case with the cells on the back of the Surinam 
Toad, but is permanent, and lined with skin like that of the back. The pouch does 
not attain its full development until the creature is of mature age, and the male does not 
possess it at all. When filled with eggs the pouch is much dilated, and extends over the 
whole back nearly as far as the back of the head. The opening is not easily seen without 
careful examination, being very narrow, and hidden in folds of the skin. 

Its colour is very variable, but green has the predominance. It is found in Mexico, 
but many specimens in the British Museum have been brought from the Andes of 

A VERY curious species, called the LICHENED TREE-TOAD (Tracliyc.ephalm h'ohendtus), 
labits Jamaica, and is described bv Mr. flossp. in bis " Naturalist's Soiourn >! in that 

inhabits Jamaica, and is described by Mr. Gosse in his 

POUCHED FKOG. Xototrema 

It derives its name from the aspect of the head, which looks as if it was overgrown 
with lichens. It is generally found among the wild pine trees, and is very active, being 
able to take considerable leaps. Sometimes it puffs out its body, and causes a kind of 
frothy moisture to exhale from the skin. This moisture adheres to the fingers like gum, 
and causes the Fro to leave a trail behind it like that of a snail or slug. 

The colour of the Lichened Tree-Toad is pale red mottled with brown, and having a 
large patch of the same colour between the shoulders. The muzzle and sides are pale 
green, spotted with dark reddish brown, and below it is whitish grey, the chin being 
speckled with reddish brown. The head is flattened, sharply pointed at the muzzle, and 
studded with sharp bony ridges. Its ordinary length is about four inches. 

ANOTHER species of the same genus, the MARBLED TREE-TOAD (TrachycSphalus 
marmordtus), is described by the same writer :- 

" One of them was taken in a bedroom at Savannah-le-Mar, one night in October, 
having probably hopped in at the open window from the branches of a mango tree only 
a few feet distant. I was surprised at its change of colour, in this respect resembling 
the chameleon and anoles, or still nearer, the geckos. 

When I obtained it, the whole upper parts were of a rich deep amber brown, with 
indistinct black bands. On looking -at it at night, to my surprise I saw a great alteration 
of hue. It was paler on the head and back, though least altered there ; on the rump and 
on the fore and hind legs it was become a sort of semi-pellucid drab, marked with minute 
close-set dark specks. When disturbed, it presently became slightly paler still, but 
in a few minutes it had recovered its original depth of tint. In the course of half an 
hour it displayed again the speckled dark hue, and now uniformly so, save a black 
irregular patch or two on the head, and a dark patch between the mouth and each eye. 
The belly, which was very regularly shagreened, was of a dull buff, not susceptible of 
change. Its eyes retained their proverbial beauty, for the irides were of a golden-brown 
tint, like sun-rays shining through tortoiseshell. 

This specimen was about as large as a middling English Frog, being two inches and a 
quarter in length. 

BLUE FROG. Pelodrya* cceruleus. 

While in captivity, if unmolested, it spent a good deal of time motionless, squatting 
flat and close, with shut eyes as 1 if sleeping, but sometimes it was active. I kept it in 
a basin covered with a pane of glass, for facility of observation. It would keep its face 
opposite the window, altering its position pertinaciously if the basin were turned, though 
ever so gently. It took no notice of cockroaches, nor of a large flesh-fly, which buzzed 
about it, and even crawled over its nose. If taken in the hand, it struggled vigorously, 
so as to be with difficulty held; once or twice, while thus struggling, it uttered a feeble 
squeak ; but if still retained, it would at length inflate the abdomen with air, apparently 
a sign of anger. It leaped, but not far." 

THE very odd-looking species which is shown in the accompanying illustration is 
the sole representative of a family, remarkable for having webbed toes, flattened processes 
of the vertebrae, and glands at the back of the head. 

The BLUE FKOG, as it is called from its hue, inhabits Australia, and is not uncommon 
at Port Essington, whence several specimens have been brought to this country. The 
head of this species is broader than long, the muzzle short and rounded, and the gape 
very large. The secreting glands at the back of the head are large, and extend in a curve 
over the ear as far as the shoulder. They are pierced with a large number of pores, 
a ad by their shape and dimensions give to the creature a very singular aspect. The 
discs of the fore-feet are extremely large, and the toes of the hind-feet are about three- 
quarters webbed. The colour of the Blue Frog is light uniform blue above, and below 
silvery white. Its length is about three inches and a half. 

THE large and handsome BICOLOURED TKEE-FROG is the only species at present known 
as belonging to the family. 

In this creature the toes are not webbed, but in other respects the form resembles that 
of the preceding family, except perhaps that the processes of the vertebra are wider in 
proportion to their volume. The Bicoloured Tree-Frog inhabits South America, Brazil, 
and Guiana, and seems to be tolerably common. Possibly its bright and boldly con- 



trasting colours render it more conspicuous than its green and olive relatives. The 
popular name of this creature is very appropriate, as the whole of the upper parts are 
intense azure, and the under parts pure white, or white tinged with rose. The thighs and 
sides are spotted witl: the same hue as the abdomen. 

PASSING over the small sec- 
tion of Frogs (Micrhylina) distin- 
guishable by their toothed jaws 
and imperfect ears, and repre- 
yented by a single species, we 
come to the third section of these 
animals (Hylaples-dra), known by 
their toothless jaws and perfectly 
developed ears. Of this section, 
the TWO-STEIPED FEOG affords a 
good example. 

This species is a native of 
Southern Africa, and is chiefly 
found in the eastern and north- 
eastern parts of the colony of 
Cape Town. It lives almost en- 
tirely upon or in trees, and may 
be seen either in the cavities of a 
decaying trunk, or clinging to 
the bark in close proximity to 
one of these holes. 

In Dr. A. Smith's "Illustra- 
tions of the Zoology of Southern 
Africa," there is so curious and 
important an account of the im- 
prisonment of this species in the 
bole of a tree, that it must be 
given in his own words : 

" On the banks of the Lim- 
popo river, close to the tropic of 
Capricorn, a massive tree was cut 
down to obtain wood to repair a 
waggon. The workman, while 
sawing the trunk longitudinally, 
nearly along its centre, remarked 
on reaching a certain point 'It 
is hollow, and will not answer the 
purpose for which it is wanted.' 

He persevered, however, and 
when a division into equal halves 
was effected, it was discovered 
that the saw in its course had 

crossed a large hole, in which were five specimens of the species just described, 
each about an inch in length. Every exertion was made to discover a means of com- 
munication between the external air and the cavity, but without success. Every point 
of the latter was probed with the utmost care, and water was left in each half for a 
considerable time, without any passing into the wood. The inner surface of the cavity 
was black, as if charred, and so was likewise the adjoining wood for half an inch from 
the cavity. 

The tree, at the part where the latter existed, was nineteen inches in diameter, the 
length of the trunk was eighteen feet ; the age, which was observed at the time, I regret 

B1COLOUKED TREE-FUOG. Phyllomedusa bicoJor. 

TWO-STRIPED FKOG. Brach.yme.rus InJuscicUus. 

to say, does not appear to have been noted. When the Batvachia above mentioned were 
discovered, they appeared inanimate, but the influence of a warm sun, to which they were 
subjected, soon imparted to them a moderate degree of vigour. In a few hours from the 
time they were liberated, they were tolerably active, and able to move from place to place, 
apparently with great ease." 

The colour of this species is deep liver-brown above, with two longitudinal yellow 
stripes, beginning at the eyes and extending as far as the base of the hind legs. A forked 
yellow mark appears between these stripes just where they end, and the limbs are liver- 
brown, spotted with yellow. The under parts are very pale brownish red, profusely 
variegated with pale yellow spots. In length it is nearly two inches. The generic name 
Brachymerus is derived from two Greek words, signifying short-thighed. 

The TINGEING FROG of Southern America (HylapUsia tinctoria) is worthy of a 
casual notice. 

This creature is so called because the Indians are said to employ it for imparting a 
different tinge to the plumage of the green parrot. They pluck out the feathers on the 
spots where they desire to give the bird a different coloured robe, and then rub the 
wounded skin with the blood of this Frog. The new feathers that supply the places of 
those that have been removed, are said to be of a fine red or yellow hue. 

It is found in various parts of Southern America, and is common in Surinam, where 
it mostly inhabits the woods, traversing the branches and leaves by day, and at night 
concealing itself under the loose bark. Liice the common tree-Frog of Europe, it seldom 
visits the water except during the breeding- season for the purpose of depositing its eggs. 

In colour it is extremely variable. Some specimens are black, with a white spot on 
the top of the head, and two stripes of the same colour running from the head along each 
side. In certain individuals there are cross bands of white between the stripes. Other 
examples are grey above and black below ; some are wholly black, spotted with large 
round white marks ; others are black ; others are grey, spotted with black ; while a few 
specimens are brown, with a large white spot on each side, and two white bands on the 
fore limbs. 

The EHINOPHEYNE is remarkable as being the only known example among the Frogs 
where the tongue has its free end pointing forward, instead of being directed towards 
the throat. 


RHINOPHKYNB. Rhinophrynvs lorsalm. 

This curious species inhabits Mexico, and can easily be recognised by the peculiar 
form of its head, which is rounded, merged into the body, and has the muzzle abruptly 
truncated, so as to form a small circular disc in front. The gape is extremely small, and 
the head would, if separated, be hardly recognisable as having belonged to a Frog. There 
are two glands by the ears, but although they are of considerable dimensions, they are 
scarcely apparent externally, being concealed under the skin. The legs are very short 
and thick, and the feet are half-webbed. Each hind foot is furnished with a flat, oval, 
horny spur formed by the development of one of the bones. There are no teeth in the 
jaws, and the ear is imperfect. The colour of the Ehinophryne is slate-grey, with yellow 
spots on the sides and a row of similar spots along the back. Sometimes these latter 
spots unite so as to form a jagged line down the back. 

WE now arrive at the Crawling Batrachians, technically called Amphibia Gradientia. 
All these creatures have a much elongated body, a tail which is never thrown off as in 
the frogs and toads, and limbs nearly equal in development, but never very powerful. 
Like the preceding sub-order, the young are hatched from eggs, pass through the pre- 
liminary or tadpole state, and, except in a very few instances, the gills are lost when 
the animal attains its perfect form. Both jaws are furnished with teeth, and the palate is 
toothed in some species. The skin is without scales, and either smooth or covered with 
wart-like excrescences. There is no true breast-bone, but some species have ribs. 

The development of the young from the egg is not quite the same as that of the tail- 
less Batrachians. Instead of being deposited in masses or long strings, the eggs are laid 
singly, and are hatched in succession. When the young are first hatched they bear some 
resemblance to the tadpole of the frog, the gills being very conspicuous. In these 
creatures, however, the fore-legs make their appearance first, and are soon followed 
by the hinder pair, whereas in the frogs the hind-legs are seen for some time before the 
fore-limbs are visible externally. Further remarks will be made on this subject when 
\V9 come to our well-known representative of this sub-order, the common newt or e f t 


THE celebrated SALAMANDER, the subject of so many strange 'fables, is a species found 
in many parts of the continent of Europe. 

This creature was formerly thought to be able to withstand the action of fire, and to 
quench even the most glowing furnace with its icy body. It is singular how such ideas 
should have been so long promulgated, for although Aristotle repeated the tale on hearsay, 
Pliny tried the experiment, by putting a Salamander into the fire, and remarks with 
evident surprise, that it was burned to a powder. A piece of doth dipped in the blood 
of a Salamander was said to be unhurt by fire, and certain persons had in their possession 
a fire-proof fabric made, as they stated, of Salamander's wool, but which proved to 
be asbestos. 

Another fable related of this creature still holds its ground, though perhaps with little 
reason. I have already mentioned one or two instances of the prejudices which are so 
deeply ingrained in the rustic mind, and given a short account of the superstitions 
prevalent in France regarding toads. The Salamander there suffers an equally evil 
reputation with the toad, as may be seen by the following graphic and spirited letter 
addressed to the Field newspaper : 

" Returning homeward a few evenings ago from a country walk in the environs of 

D , I discovered in my path a strange-looking reptile, which, after regarding me 

stedfastly for a few moments, walked slowly to the side of the road, and commenced very 
deliberately clambering up the wall. Never having seen a similar animal, I was rather 
doubtful as to its properties ; but, reassured by its tranquil demeanour, I put my 
pocket-handkerchief over it, and it suffered itself to be taken up without resistance, and 
was thus carried to my domicile. On arriving chez tnoi, I opened the basket to show my 
captive to the servants (French), when, to my surprise and consternation, they set up 
such a screaming and hullabaloo, that I thought they would have gone into fits. 

' Oh I la, la, la, la, la ! Oh ! la, la, la, la, la ! ' and then a succession of screams in 
altissimo, which woke up the children, and brought out the neighbours to see what could 
i>e the matter. 

' Ok, monsieur a rapporte un sourd ! ' 

' Un sourd ! ' cried one. 

' UN SOUED ! ' echoed another. 

' UN S-0-U-E-D ! ! ! ' cried they all in chorus ; and then followed a succession of 


When they calmed down into a mild sample of hysterics, they began to explain that 
I had brought home the most venomous animal in creation. 

* Oh ! le wlain bete ! ' cried Phyllis. 

' Oh ! le mechant ! ' chimed in Abigail ; ' he kills everybody that comes near him ; I 
have known fifty people die of his bite, and no remedy in the world can save them. As 
soon as they are bitten they gonflent, gonflent, and keep on swelling till they burst, and 
are dead in a quarter of an hour. 

Here I transferred my curiosity from the basket to a glass jar, and put a saucer on the 
top to keep it safe. 

' Oh ! Monsieur, don't leave him so ; if he puts himself in a rage, nothing can hold 
him. He has got such force that he can jump up to the ceiling ; and wherever he fastens 
himself he sticks like death.' 

' Ah ! it's all true/ cried my landlady, joining the circle of gapers ; ' Oh ! la, la ! ga 
me fait peur ; $a me fait tr-r-r-r-embler ! ' 

1 Once I saw a man in a haycart try to kill one, and the lte jumped right off the 
ground at a bound and fastened itself on the man's face, when he stood on the haycart, 
and nothing could detach it till the man fell dead.' 

'Ah! c'est bien vrai,' cried Abigail ; ' they ought to have fetched a mirror and held it 
up to the btite, and then it would have left the man and jumped at its image.' 

The end of all this commotion was that, while I went to inquire of a scientific friend 
whether there was any truth in these tissue of betises, the whole household was in an 
uproar, tout en emoi, and they sent for a commissionnaire and an ostler with a spade and 
mattock, and threw out my poor bete into the road, and foully murdered it, chopping it 
into a dozen pieces by the light of a static lantern ; and then they declared that they 
could sleep in piece ! les miserablcs ! 

But there were sundry misgivings as to my fate, and as with the Apostle, ' they 
looked when I should have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly ; ' and next morning 
the maids came stealthily and peeped into my room to see whether I was alive or dead, 
and were not a little surprised that I was not even gonfle, or any the worse for my 
rencontre with a sourd. 

And so it turned out that my poor little bete that had caused such a disturbance was 
nothing more nor less than a Salamander a poor, inoffensive, harmless reptile, declared 
on competent authority to be noways venomous ; but whose unfortunate appearance and 
somewhat Satanic livery have exposed it to obloquy and persecution." 

This notion of the poisonous character of the Salamander is of very old date, as the 
reader may see by referring to any ancient work on Natural History. One of the old 
writers advises any one who is bitten by a Salamander to betake himself to the 
coffin and winding-sheet, and remarks that a sufferer from the bite of this animal needs 
as many physicians as the Salamander has spots. If the Salamander crawled upon the 
stem of an apple-tree, all the crop of fruit was supposed to be withered by its deadly 
presence, and if the heel of a man should come in contact with the liquid that exudes 
from the skin, all the hair of his head and face would fall off. 

There is certainly an infinitesimal ly minute atom of truth in all this mass of 
absurdities, for the Salamander does secrete a liquid from certain pores in its surface, 
which, for the moment, would enable it to pass through a moderate fire, and this 
secretion is sufficiently acrid to affect the eyes painfully, and to injure small animals 
if taken into the mouth. 

The Salamander is a terrestrial species, only frequenting the water for the purpose of 
depositing its young, which leave the egg before they enter into independent existence. 
It is a slow and timid animal, generally hiding itself in some convenient crevice during 
the day, and seldom venturing out except at night or in rainy weather. It feeds on slugs, 
insects, and similar creatures. During the cold months it retires into winter quarters, 
generally the hollow of some decaying tree, or beneath mossy stones, and does not 
reappear until the spring 

The ground colour of this species is black, and the spots are light yellow. Along 
the sides are scattered numerous small tubercles. 

CRESTED NEWT. Triton cristdtus. 

SMOOTH NEWT. Lophinus punctatut. 

THE common NEWT, ASKEK, EFFET, EFT, or EVAT, as it is indifferently termed, is 
well known throughout England. At least two species of Newt inhabit England, and 
some authors consider that the number of species is still greater. We shall, however, 
according to the system employed in this work, follow the arrangement of the British 
Museum, which accepts only two species, the others being merely noted as varieties. 

The CRESTED NEWT derives its popular name from the membranous crest which 
appears on the back and upper edge of the tail during the breeding season, and which 
adds so much to the beauty of the adult male. 

This creature is found plentifully in ponds and ditches during the warm months of 
the year, and may be captured without difficulty. It is tolerably hardy in confinement, 
being easily reared even from a very tender age, so that its habits can be carefully 

At Oxford we had some of these animals in a large slate tank through which water 
was constantly running, and which was paved with pebbles, and furnished with vallisneria 
and other aquatic plants, for the purpose of imitating as nearly as possible the natural 
condition of the water from which the creatures had been taken. Here they lived for 
some time, and here the eggs were hatched and the young developed. 

It was a very curious sight to watch the clever manner in which the female Newts 
secured their eggs ; for which purpose they used chiefly to employ the vallisneria, its 
long slender blades being exactly the leaves best suited for that purpose. They deposited 
an egg on one of the leaves, and then, by dexterous management of the feet, twisted the leaf 



round the egg, so as to conceal it, and contrived to fasten it so firmly that the twist always 
retained its form. The apparent shape of the egg is oval, and semi-transparent, but on 
looking more closely, it is seen to be nearly spherical, of a very pale yellow-brown, and 
inclosed within an oval envelope of gelatinous substance. 

When the young Newt is hatched it much resembles the common tadpole, but is of a 
lighter colour, and its gills are more developed. It rapidly increases in size, until it 
has attained a length of nearly two inches, the fore-legs being then tolerably strong, and 
the hinder pair very small and weak. The gills are at this time most beautiful objects, 
and if the young creature be properly arranged under the microscope, the circulation of 
the blood, as seen through their transparent walls, is one of the most exquisite sights that 
the microscope can afford. 

The legs now attain greater strength, the gills become gradually more opaque and 
slowly lessen in size, being at last entirely absorbed into the body. In exact pioportion to 
the diminution of the gills the lungs increase in size, and the animal undergoes exactly 
the same metamorphosis as has already been related of the frog, being changed, in point 
of fact, from a fish into a batrachian. The tail, however, remains, and is made the prin- 
cipal, if, indeed, not the only means by which the Newt propels itself through the water. 

When it has passed through its changes, the Newt is no longer able to lead a 
sub-aquatic life, but is forced to breathe atmospheric air. For this purpose it rises 
to the surface at tolerably regular intervals, puts its snout just out of the water, and, with 
a peculiar little popping sound, ejects the used air from its lungs and takes in a fresh 

Towards the breeding season the male changes sensibly in appearance ; his colours 
are brighter, and his movements more brisk. The beautiful waving crest now begins to 
show itself, and grows with great rapidity, until it assumes an appearance not unlike that 
of a very thin cock's-comb, extending from the head to the insertion of the hinder limbs, 
and being deeply toothed at the edge. The tail is also furnished with a crest, but with 
smooth edges. When the animal leaves the water, this crest is hardly visible, because it 
is so delicate that it folds upon the body and is confounded with the skin ; but when sup- 
ported by the water, it waves with every movement of its owner, and has a most graceful 

After the breeding season, the crest diminishes as rapidly as it arose, and in a short 
time is almost wholly absorbed. Some remnants of it, however, always remain, so that 
the male may be known, even in the winter, by the line of irregular excrescences along 
the back. The use of this crest is not known, but it evidently bears a close analogy 
to the gorgeous nuptial plumage of many birds, which at other times are dressed in 
quite sober garments. 

The Newt feeds upon small worms, insects, and similar creatures, and may be captured 
by the simple process of tying a worm on a thread by the middle, so as to allow both ends 
to hang down, and then angling as if for fish. The Newt is a ravenous creature, and when 
it catches a worm, closes its mouth so firmly that it may be neatly landed before it 
looses its hold. Some writers recommend a hook, but I can assert, from much practical 
experience, that the hook is quite needless, and that the Newt may be captured by the 
simple worm and thread, not even a rod being required. 

It is curious to see the Newt eat a worm. It seizes it by the middle with a sudden 
snap, as if the jaws were moved by springs, and remains quiet for a few seconds, when it 
makes another snap, which causes the worm to pass farther into ita mouth.. Six or seven 
such bites are usually required before the worm finally disappears. 

The skin or epidermis of the Newt is very delicate, and is frequently changed, coming 
off in the water in flakes. I found that my own specimens always changed their skin as 
often as I changed the water, and it was very curious to see them swimming about with 
the flakes of transparent membrane clinging to their sides. The skin of the paws is drawn 
off just like a glove, every finger being perfect, and even the little wrinkles in the palm? 
being marked. These gloves look very pretty as they float in the water, but if removed 
they collapse into a shapeless lump. 

The food of the Newt consists of worms, insects, and oven the young of aquatic 


reptiles. I have seen a large male Crested Newt make a savage dart at a younger 
individual of the same species, but it did not succeed in eating the intended victim. 

This creature is very tenacious of life, and the muscular irritability of the body seems 
to endure for a long time after the creature is dead. One of these animals, that had been 
dead for some time, whose heart and lungs had been removed, and whose limbs had been 
pinned out ready for dissection, was so retentive of this singular irritability, that when the 
tail was touched with the point of a scalpel, the body and limbs writhed so actively as to 
free the limbs from their attachments. On repeating the experiment, it was found that 
this susceptibility gradually departed, lingering longest towards the body. The eel possesses 
an even greater degree of this muscular irritability, as is well known by all who have made 
an eel-pie or seen it prepared. The tail of the blindworm, too, which has already been 
described, is equally irritable when separated from the body. 

The colour of the Crested Newt is blackish or olive-brown, with darker circular spots, 
and the under parts are rich orange-red, sprinkled with black spots. Along the sides are 
a number of white dots, and the sides of the tail are pearly white, becoming brighter in 
the spring. The length of a large specimen is nearly six inches, of which the tail occupies 
rather more than two inches and a half. 

The STRAIGHT-LIPPED NEWT of Mr. Bell (Triton Bibronii} is only ranked as a variety 
of this species in the official catalogue of the British Museum. In this variety the upper 
lip does not overhang the lower, and the skin is more tubercular than in the ordinary 

The MAEBLED NEWT (Triton Marmordtus) is a continental species, and is found 
plentifully in the southern parts of France. 

It is a much larger species than the preceding, often attaining the length of eight 
or nine inches. It mostly lives in the water, but will leave that element voluntarily 
when the weather is stormy, or even if the hot sunbeams are too powerful to please 
its constitution. A rather powerful and not very pleasant odour is exhaled from 
this creature. During the winter it leaves the water, seeks for some hole in a decaying 
tree, and there remains until the following spring. The colour of the Marbled Newt is 
olive-brown above, marbled with grey and dotted with white on the back. The head is 
grey, with black dots and spots. Along the centre of the back runs a streak of white and 
orange, and the under parts are dotted with white. 

The SMOOTH NEWT is more terrestrial in its habits than the cresto.d species, and is often 
seen at considerable distances from water. 

By the rustics this most harmless creature is dreaded as much as the salamander in 
France, and the tales related of its venom and spite are almost equal to those already 
mentioned. During a residence of some years in a small village in Wiltshire, I was 
told some very odd stories about this Newt, and my own powers of handling these terrible 
creatures without injury was evidently thought rather supernatural Poison was the 
least of its crimes, for it was a general opinion among the rustics in charge of the farm- 
yard that my poor Newts killed a calf at one end of a farmyard, through the mediumship 
of its mother, who saw them in a water-trough at the other end ; and that one of these 
creatures bit a man on his thumb as he was cutting grass in the churchyard, and inflicted 
great damage on that member. 

The worst charge, however, was one which I heard from the same person. A woman, 
he told me, had gone to the brook to draw water, when an Effert, as he called it, jumped 
out of the water, fastened on her arm, bit out a piece of flesh, and spat fire into the wound, 
so that she afterwards lost her arm. , 

All the Newts possess singular powers of reproducing lost or injured members, this 
faculty proving them to hold a rather low place in the scale of creation. The Smooth 
Newt has been known to reproduce the tail, and even the limbs ; and in one case an eye 
was removed entirely, and reproduced in a perfect state by the end of the year. 

This species may be known by its smooth and non-tubercular skin, and its small size. 
During the breeding season the male wears a crest, which runs continuously from the 
bad to the end of the tail, and is not so deeply cleft as that of the crested species. 



This ornament is very delicate and beautiful, and at the height of the season is often 
edged with beautiful carmine or violet. The colour is brownish grey above and bright 
orange below, covered with round spots of black. In the autumn and during the winter 
the abdomen becomes much paler. The length of this species is about three inches 
and a half. 

The PALMATED WATEE NEWT of Mr. Bell (Lissotritonpalmipes) is held by the authorities 
of the British Museum to be merely a variety of this species. 

WE now arrive at another family, known by the curious manner in which the teeth of 
the palate form a broken cross-series. 

The first example is the JAPANESE SALAMANDEE ( Onychoddctylus Japonicus), remarkable 
for having, during the larval state and in the breeding season, claws upon the toes. Its 
colour is purplish black, variegated irregularly with white, and the claws are black. It is 
thought by the natives to possess medical properties, and they employ its flesh in sundry 
ailments, killing, and drying it in the sun for better preservation. 

AMBYSTOME, OB SPOTTED EFT. Aribystcma Carolina. 

ANOTHEE example of this family is the AMBYSTOME, or SPOTTED EFT, of North 

This species is not uncommon in the countries which it inhabits, and is found in some 
numbers in Pennsylvania. The eggs of this creature are not deposited singly and in the 
water, as is the case with the newts, but are laid in small packets, and placed beneath damp 
stones. The head of the Ambystome is thick, convex, and with the muzzle rounded. Its 
colour is deep violet-black above, and purple-black below, with a row of circular or oval 
yellow spots along the sides. These spots are large in proportion to the dimensions of the 
individual, and have a very bold effect. The genus is rather large, containing about eleven 
acknowledged species. One of them, Ambystorna talpoideum, or Mole-like Ambystome, 
derives its name from its habit of burrowing in the ground after the fashion of the mole. 
l.t lives in South Carolina, and is found on the sea-islands. The fore-limbs are peculiarly 
short and stout, and the body is rather thick and clumsily made. 

WE now come to a very remarkable creature, the AXOLOTL, which is presumed to be 
but the larva or tadpole state of some very large batrachian. Like many other enigmatical 
animals, it has been bandied about considerably in the course of investigation, and according 
to the latest observations, the original opinion seems to be correct, namely, that it is not 

AXOLOTL. Axol teles 

an adult crawling batrachian with perpetual gills, but that it is in its preliminary or tad- 
pole stage of existence. Mr. Baird makes the following sensible remarks on this subject: 

" It so much resembles the larva of Ambystoma punctata, in both external form and 
internal structure, that I cannot but believe it to be the larva of some gigantic species of 
this genus. It differs from all other perennibranchiates in possessing the larval character 
of the gular or opercular flap, this being unattached to the adjacent integuments, and free 
to the extremity of the chin. The non-discovery of the adult is no argument against its 
existence. I had caught hundreds of the very remarkable larva of Pseudotriton salmoneus 
near Carlisle before I found an adult. Until then I knew nowhere to refer the animal, 
supposing this species to exist no nearer than the mountains of New York and Vermont. 

As may be seen from the illustration, the gills or branchiae are quite as large in pro- 
portion as those of the newt in its larval state. They are three in number on each side, 
and furnished with fringes. 

The Axolotl inhabits Mexico, where it is tolerably plentiful, and in some places is 
found in such numbers that it is sold in the markets for the table. It frequents the lake 
surrounding the city of Mexico, and, according to Humboldt, is also found in the cold 
waters of certain mountain lakes at a considerable elevation above the sea. 

The colour of this remarkable creature is rather dark greyish brown, covered thickly 
vVith black spots. The length varies from eight to ten inches. 

ANOTHER small order now comes before us, containing a few species, and only two 
very small families. In all these creatures the body is long and lizard-like, the legs four 
and feeble, and the gills internal, but permanent throughout life. 

OUE first example of this family is the now celebrated GIGANTIC SALAMANDEE. 

This is undoubtedly one of the least attractive of the vertebrate animals, being dull ii. 
habits, sombre in colour, with a sort of half-finished look about it, and not possessing even 
that savage ugliness which makes many a hideous creature attractive in spite of its 
uncomeliness. It is a native of Japan, and even in that country seems to be rare, a large 
sum being asked for it by the seller. It lives in the lakes and pools that exist in the 
basaltic mountain ranges of Japan. 

GIGANTIC SALAMANDER,. Sieboldia maximu. 

Dr. Von Siebold brought the first living specimen to Europe, and placed it in a tank 
at Ley den, where it was living when the last accounts were heard, having thus passed a 
period of many years in captivity. Its length is about a yard. Two specimens were 
brought over at the same time, being of different sexes, but on the passage, the male 
unfortunately killed and ate his intended bride, leaving himself to pass the remainder of 
his life in celibacy. It fed chiefly on fish, but would eat other animal substances. 

A fine specimen is now living in the Zoological Gardens, and has attracted much notice 
in spite of its ugliness and almost total want of observable habits. It is very sluggish and 
retiring, hating the light, and always squeezing itself into the darkest corner of its tank, 
where it so closely resembles in colour the rock- work near which it shelters itself, that 
many pevsons look at the tank without even discovering its presence. The length of this 
specimen is about thirty-three inches, and if it survives, it may possibly attain even a 
larger size. 

The head of this creature is large, flattened, and very toad-like in general aspect, except 
that it is not furnished with the beautiful eyes which redeem the otherwise repulsive 
expression of the toad. The head is about four inches wide at the broadest part, and is 
covered with innumerable warty excrescences. The eyes are extremely small, placed on 
the fore part of the head, and without the least approach to expression, looking more like 
small glass beads than eyes. 

The whole upper part of the body is covered thickly with excrescences, and even the 
under part of the rounded toes are studded with little tubercles, which can be plainly seen 
with a magnifying lens as the creature presses its feet against the glass wall of its tank. 
Despite of its sluggish nature, it is quite able to obtain its own subsistence by catching the 

il-ENOPOME. Prutoiwpsis Aorrtuu. 

fish on which it feeds, and the keeper told me that even in captivity it easily catches the 
fish that are put into its tank. On the journey, it was mostly fed upon eels, and at the 
present time it eats eels as well as other fish, provided they are rather small. 

It is well to mention casually in this place that the human-looking skeleton, discovered 
at (Eningen in 1726, and long supposed to be the fossil skeleton of a man who had 
perished in the deluge, is nothing more than the bones of a huge Salamander, closely 
allied to the present species. The colour of the Gigantic Salamander is a very dark brown, 
with a tinge of chocolate, and taking a lighter and more yellowish hue upon the under 
surface of the feet. 

THE great MENOPOME of America has been honoured with a large array of names, 
among which are TWEEG, HELLBENDEK, MUD DEVIL, and GROUND PUPPY, the first being 
an Indian name, and the others given to the creature in allusion to its mud-loving habits 
or the ferocity of its disposition. 

The Menopome inhabits the Ohio and Alleghany rivers, and it is a fierce and voracious 
animal, so dangerous a foe to fish and other living beings that it is in some places known 
by the name of Young Alligator. It is very ugly, and rather revolting in appearance, so 
that the fishermen stand in great awe of the fierce, active beast, and think it to be 
venomous as well as voracious. The teeth, however, are very small in proportion to the 
size of the creature. Its colour is slaty grey, with dark spots, and a dark streak runs 
through the eye. Its length is about two feet 

THE second family of this order is represented by its typical species, the CONGO SNAKE. 

This curious creature is a native of America, and is found rather plentifully near New 
Orleans, in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. It is fond of burrowing in mud, and 
will often descend to a depth of three feet below the surface of the soil, acting indeed more 
like an earthworm than a vertebrate animal. Many of these creatures have been acci- 
dentally dug out while deepening or clearing ditches. The negroes are much afraid of the 
Congo Snake, and think it to be poisonous, a belief which has its only foundation in fear, 
generated by ignorance. 

CONGO SNAKE. Amfhiuma mctuu. 

The legs are extremely small and feeble, and there are only two toes on each foot. 
Its colour is dark blackish grey above, and lighter beneath. Another species, the THREE- 
TOED CONGO SNAKE (Murcenopsis triddctyla), is much like the common Congo Snake, from 
which it may be distinguished by possessing three toes on each foot instead of two. The 
length of both these creatures is from two to three feet. These two species constitute the 
whole of the family to which they belong. 

AMONG these remarkable animals, the orders multiply themselves rapidly. The 
Pseudophidia, or False Serpents, include some very curious species, whose position 
remained long unsettled. There is but one family, and all its members have very long 
and cylindrical bodies, no limbs, a very short tail, and a smooth, wrinkled skin, in which 
are embedded a multitude of minute scales. The two worm-like creatures in the illus- 
tration on page 1 87 afford good examples of this very remarkable family. 

THE left-hand figure represents the WHITE-BELLIED CECILIA. The name Ceecilia is 
derived from a Latin word signifying blindness, and is given to the creature because the 
eyes are always minute, and in some species are hidden under the skin. This species 
inhabits Southern America, and, like the rest of its kin, burrows deeply under the 
ground after the fashion of the earthworm, to which it bears so strong an external 
resemblance, preferring wet and marshy ground to dry soil. Its body is rather thick and 
cylindrical, and is surrounded by about one hundred and fifty incomplete rings. The 
muzzle is rounded and so is the tail. There are teeth in the jaws and on the palate, 
all of which are short, strong, and conical ; the tongue has a curiously velvety feel to the 
touch. Below each nostril there is a small pit, sometimes taken for a second nostril. 

The colour of the White-bellied Caecilia is blackish, marbled with white along the 
under surface. 

THE right-hand figure represents the SLENDER CECILIA, so called on account of its 
slight form. In this species the body is smooth throughout the greater part of its length, 
but towards the tail the skin is gathered into fifteen circular folds pressed closely together. 

WHITE-BELLIED C^ECILIA. Caxilia tentaculata. 

C.-KCILIA. Ccecilia yntcilu. 

The muzzle is rather broad and rounded. The body of the Slender Coecilia is extremely 
elongated, being about two feet in length, and not thicker than an ordinary goosequill. 
Its colour is almost wholly black. 

THE small but very remarkable order of animals which stands next in our list, has 
proved an insoluble enigma to the systematic zoologists, who not only are unable to 
decide upon any order to which it may belong, or in what precise relation it stands to 
other reptiles, but are not even able to announce positively its class, or to say whether it 
is a reptile or a fish. The three species which comprise this order if indeed they do not 
form a separate class are so fish-like in most parts of their anatomy and their general 
habits, that they might be regarded as belonging to the fishes, were not they allied to the 
reptiles by one or two peculiarities of their structure. Some accurate and experienced 
anatomists accordingly place these creatures among the fishes, while others, equally 
experienced, consider them as belonging to the reptiles. In fact, the position in which 
these creatures are placed depends wholly on the amount of importance given to the 
reptilian or piscine characters. 

THE species represented in the engraving is that which is found in Africa, inhabiting 
the beds of muddy rivers, and is known by the name of LEPIDOSIEEN or MUD-FISH. 

The habits of this creature are very remarkable. Living in localities where the sun 
attains a heat so terrific during a long period of the year that the waters are dried and 
even their muddy beds baked into a hard and stony flooring, these animals would be soon 
extirpated unless they had some means of securing themselves against this periodical 
infliction, and obtaining throughout the year some proportion of that moisture for lack of 
which they would soon die. The mode of self-preservation during the hot season is very 
like that which has already been mentioned in the case of certain frogs and other similai 
creatures, but is marked by several curious modifications. 

When the hot season has fairly commenced, and the waters have begun to lessen in 
volume, the Lepidosiren wriggles its way deeply into the mud, its eyes being so con- 



stmcted that the wet soil cannot injure them, and the external nostrils being merely two 
shallow blind sacs. After it has arrived at a suitable depth, it curls itself round, with 
its tail wrapped partly over the head, not unlike the peculiar attitude assumed by fried 
whitings, except that its flexible spine enables it to squeeze the two sides closer together 
than can be accomplished in that fish, and in that position awaits the coming rains. It 
will lie in a torpid condition for a very considerable space of time, depending entirely on 
the advent of rain for the re-assumption of vitality. 

After it has curled itself up and resigned itself to the exigencies of its condition, a 
large amount of a slimy substance is secreted from the body, which has the effect of 
making the walls of its cell very smooth, and probably aids in binding the muddy particles 
together. When the rains fall, the moisture penetrates rapidly through the fissures of the 
earth, cracked in all directions by the constant heat, reaches the cell of the Lepidosiren, 
dissolves its walls, and restores the inhabitant to life and energy. 

Several specimens have been brought to Europe, most of which I have had oppor- 
tunities of seeing while alive, as well as of examining parts of their structure after death. 

LBPIDOSIBEN. Protoplerus 

While retained in an ordinary aquarium, it passes much of its time in an apparently 
semi-torpid condition at the bottom of the tank, generally seeking the darkest corner and 
squeezing itself along one of the perpendicular angles of the case. It was found, how- 
ever, that whenever the surface of the water was disturbed, the creature woke up, as it 
were, and rose to see what was the matter. In this way it could be induced to come at a 
signal to take the food on which it lived. 

Farther investigations and experiments on a larger scale, such as were carried out at 
the Crystal Palace, afforded a considerable insight into the habits of this singular creature. 
I have much pleasure in acknowledging the kind assistance given to me by the directors 
of that institution, and the facilities wnich they have afforded me in my inquiries, and 
especially in returning thanks to Mr. F.Wilson, of the Zoological department, who was in 
charge of the various specimens of this creature, and who took a most kindly interest in 
furnishing information respecting the habits of his former charges. 

Several batches of these animals have been kept alive at the Crystal Palace, all of which 
have died, some after a life of only a few weeks, and others after surviving for three years. 
It will, however, be useless to follow the fortunes of each separate individual, and we will 
therefore only examine the general habits which seem to be common to all. 

The Lepidosirens, or Mud-fish as they are popularly called, were sent while still in 
their muddy nests, or " cocoons," according to the technical term, and, in one instance, 


three specimens were inclosed in a single lump of bard mud, weighing when dry about 
twenty pounds. 

One of the cocoons is now lying before me, together with the dried and shrivelled body 
of its former inhabitant, still curled up in the singular fashion already mentioned. The 
walls of the cocoon are composed of a thick greyish clay, quite hard and dry, and 
intermixed here and there with remnants of vegetable matter. The hollow in which the 
Lepidosiren resided is quite smooth in the interior, but gives no idea of the real shape of 
the inhabitant, the cell seeming to be somewhat large, most probably on account of the 
coat of mucous substance with which it was lined, and part of which is to be seen still 
adhering, like flakes of dry membrane, to the sides of the cell. 

By rapidly tearing this membranous substance with an oblique bearing, it can be in 
some places split like a scrap of paper under similar circumstances, but when placed under 
the microscope, it shows no signs of organization, being of a light brown colour, irregularly 
mottled with black. "When burned, it rapidly takes fire and bursts into flame, giving out 
a very nauseous odour, like that which is perceived on burning the wing-case of a beetle, 
and leaves a firm black ash, of nearly the same shape and form as before the light was 
applied to it. 

The remainder of this substance is found loosely adhering to the body of the former 
inhabitant, and can be easily stripped off. 

On being immersed in water, the earthy cocoons fell to pieces as if they had been made 
of sugar, and the imprisoned creatures were thus released. At first they were exceedingly 
sluggish, and hardly stirred, but after the lapse of an. hour or two they became tolerably 

One of these specimens died after it had been kept about six weeks, and a good plaster- 
cast of it is now before me. Its length is ten inches, and the circumference of the head, 
just in front of the fore pair of limbs, is exactly three inches. The scales are 
tolerably well marked, and are shown even in the plaster-cast, though in the living animal 
there is hardly a trace of them. They are also very evident after the creature has been 
immersed in spirits for some time. In taking a cast of the Lepidosiren, the mucous 
secretion with which the body is covered affords a serious obstacle to the correctness of the 
image, as it is apt to adhere to the plaster, and pull away with it some portions of the skin. 

A fellow-specimen, that floated dead from its cocoon, is also before me, bent on itself 
in the manner usual among these creatures, and with its mouth widely open, showing the 
peculiar teeth. 

Finding, as has already been mentioned, that the Lepidosiren would rise to the surface 
of the water when a splashing was made, the attendants used to feed it by paddling about 
with the finger, and then holding a piece of raw beef in the spot where the disturbance 
had been made. The creature used to rise deliberately, snatch the meat away, and, with a 
peculiarly graceful turn of the body, descend to its former resting-place for the purpose 
of eating its food. 

The mode of eating was very remarkable. Taking the extreme tip of the meat between 
its sharp and strongly formed teeth, it would bite very severely, the whole of the head 
seeming to participate in the movement, just as the temporal muscles of the human face 
move when we bite anything hard or tough. It then seemed to suck the meat a very 
little farther into its mouth and gave another bite, proceeding in this fashion until it had 
subjected the entire morsel to the same treatment. It then suddenly shot out the meat, 
caught it as before by the tip, and repeated the same process. After a third such 
manoeuvre it swallowed the morsel with a quick jerk. The animal always went through 
this curious series of operations, never swallowing the meat until after the third time of 

After a while, it was thought that the water in which it lived was not sufficiently 
warm to represent the tepid streams of its native land, and its tank was consequently 
sunk in the north basin of the building, where the water is kept at a tepid heat for the 
purpose of nourishing the tropical plants which grow in it. Here the creature remained for 
some time, but at last contrived to wriggle itself over the side of its tank, and roam about 
in the large basin quite at liberty. 


It remained here for some time, and being deprived of its ordinary supply of raw beef, 
took to foraging for itself. The gold-fish with which the basin is stocked became its 
victims, and it was quite as destructive as an otter would have been. It had quite a 
fancy for attacking the largest fish ; and though apparently slow in its movements, could 
catch any llsh on which it had set its wishes. As the fish was quietly swimming about, 
suspecting no evil, the Lepidosiren would rise very quietly beneath it until quite close to 
its victim, just as the terrible ground-shark rises to take its prey. It then made a quick dart 
with open mouth, seized the luckless fish just by the pectoral fins, and with a. single effort 
bit entirely through skin, scales, flesh, and bone, taking out a piece exactly the shape of 
its mouth, and then sinking to the bed of the basin with its plunder. The poor fish was 
never chased, but was suffered to float about in a half-dead state, and numbers of mutilated 
gold-fish were taken out of the basin. 

I have several times seen the creature while swimming about in search of a dinner, 
and have been much struck with the exceeding grace of its movements, which indeed very 
strongly resemble those of the otter. 

At last its depredations were checked, for when the basin was cleansed, according to 
custom, a portion was fenced off, so that the Lepidosiren could not get out, and the gold- 
fish could not get in. 

Not choosing to supply a succession of gold-fish, out of each of which the fastidious 
creature would only take one bite, the superintendent bethought himself of frogs, and fed 
the animal regularly with these batrachians. But having been warned, by the effects on 
the gold-fish, not to trust his fingers within reach of the teeth that could inflict such very 
effective bites, he got a long stick, cleft one end of it, put one hind-foot of the frog into 
the cleft, and held it on the surface of the water, so that the struggles of the intended 
victim should agitate the surface, and warn the Lepidosiren that its dinner was ready. 
No sooner did the frog begin to splash, than the Lepidosiren rose rapidly beneath it, seized 
it in its mouth, dragged it off the stick like a pike striking at a roach, and sunk to 
the bottom with its prey. Not a vestige of the frog was ever seen afterwards ; and 
Mr. Wilson naturally conjectures that the poor victim was gradually chewed up, like the 
beef with which the creature was formerly fed. 

Under this regimen the Lepidosiren grew apace, and in three years had increased from 
ten inches in length and a few ounces in weight, to thirty inches long, and weighing 
six pounds and a quarter. The rapidity of its growth may be accounted for by the fact, 
that it had fed throughout the entire year, instead of lying dormant for want of water 
during half its existence, and its size was apparently larger than it would be likely 
to attain in its native state. 

Thinking that perhaps the creature might need its accustomed season of repose 
happily called aestivation, in opposition to the term hibernation it was well supplied 
with clay similar to that from which its cocoon had been formed, but without any result, 
the animal evincing no disposition to avail itself of the stores so thoughtfully collected in 
its behalf. This is, I think, a very interesting example of the manner in which nature 
accommodates herself to circumstances, and is paralleled by many other instances in the 
several departments of Natural History. Bees, for example, on finding themselves within 
easy distance of a sugar plantation, have been known to decline honey making ; and the 
same result has occurred when they were transported to fertile localities where the honey- 
bearing flowers are in blossom throughout the year. 

As an example of a similar phenomenon occurring in the vegetable kingdom, I may 
instance some Australian flowers brought over by Mr. Howitt, and planted in his 
garden in the suburbs of London. These plants were at first sadly puzzled by the 
seasons, wanting to blossom just as our winter had set in, but in the course of a few 
years they grew gradually later in blossoming, until they had found the proper season, 
and then were content to put forth their leaves and flowers at the same time as the 
indigenous plants. 

The cause of this specimen's regretted death was rather curious. In the winter time, 
when the basins were cleaned, the animal was removed from the north to the south basin 
while the former was being emptied. Unfortunately, the fires which warmed the water 



were suffered to expire during the night, and in the morning the poor Lepidosiren was 
found chilled to death. 

The history of this creature is not only interesting, but is valuable as it shows the 
comparative advantages of watching the habits of animals in large and small habitations. 
Had, for example, the creature lived from the first in the large basin, its remarkable mode 
cf eating its food could not have been observed, as it always seeks the bottom of its 
prison for that purpose ; while, had it been always kept in the glass tank, its graceful 
movements and fish-eating propensities would never have been discovered. 

The bones of the Lepidosiren are, when first taken from the body, of a bright 
green colour, and so gelatinous in structure, that if left in the water they would probably 
dissolve. After a time, however, the green colour fades, though traces of it can still 
be discerned. The bones of the head are, however, of a firmer character, as is needful for 
the management of the sharp and powerful teeth ; and in the skull of the above- 
mentioned specimen, now lying before me, and from which this illustration has been 
carefully drawn, the green tint still lingers on several of the bones. The drawing is of the 
natural size. 


The teeth are most remarkable, looking as if they were made from a ribbon of enamel- 
covered bone, plaited in a series of very deep undulations in front, and sweeping off at 
each side with a bold curve. Those of the palate and lower jaw are so made that they 
lock into each other, the folds exactly corresponding, and fitting into each other with such 
exactness, that no creature when seized could hope to escape without much detriment. 
The edges of this continuous tooth-ribbon, if I may so call it, are very sharp, and armed 
with small saw-like teeth, rather worn away in front, but very perceptible on the sides. 
In the very front of the upper jaw are two little pointed teeth, set apparently loosely in 
the soft parts of the nose, and quite useless for biting. When, however, the skull is 
removed from the body, and cleared of muscle and other soft parts, these teeth retain their 
place, and by the hardening of their attachments become tightly fixed in the skull. 

During life the points of these teeth project very slightly through those two little holes 
just inside the upper lip, which are considered as the internal nostrils. While the 
creature is alive, the teeth cannot be seen even when the mouth is open, being covered by 
a very soft and yielding substance, through which they seem to cut when in use. 

The external aspect of this creature is very singular, the chief characteristics being its 
eel-like form, and the four long slender projections which stand in the place of limbs, and 


are analogous to similar structures in certain reptiles already described and figured. These 
are not true limbs, and the cartilaginous ray by which they are supported has no joint. 
They are quite soft and flexible, as if they were made of leather, and are of very trifling 
use in locomotion. The two fore-limbs are set at the shoulders, just behind the head, 
and widely separated from each other, while the hinder pair are quite close together at 
their bases. In the species just described, two short tubercular appendages, about an inch 
in length, accompany the larger limb-like projections, and, except in dimensions, bear a 
close resemblance to those organs. I may take this opportunity of remarking that the 
creature is not known to leave the water and to crawl on land, and that the figure 
is represented as lying partly on the bank of the stream, not to intimate that it is capable 
of terrestrial locomotion, but merely in order to show the peculiar shape to better 

The specimen now (January, 1862) living in the Zoological Gardens has not attained 
to any great size, being scarcely half as large as the individual just described, though it 
has lived in England for three years. The tank in which it resides is small, and may 
probably account for the slight increase in dimensions. It is interesting to watch this 
creature move about its prison, as the peculiar screw-like or spiral movement of the limbs 
is well exhibited. 

The whole body is covered with rather large scales, embedded deeply in the skin, and 
not easily to be seen in living specimens. The name of Lepidosiren, or Scaly Siren, is 
given to this creature on account of its scaly covering. At about one-third of the distance 
from the head to the tip of the tail a rather narrow and fin-like membrane arises, which 
runs completely round the tail until it is terminated close to the bases of the hind pair of 
limbs. It is strengthened throughout by a series of soft jointed rays. 

The flesh of the Lepidosiren is very soft and white, and is thought to be excellent for 
the table, so that in its native country it is dug up from its muddy bed and used for food. 
It usually burrows to a depth of eighteen inches. This creature possesses both lungs and 
gills, the latter organs being twofold, the external gills being tufted on the under side, and 
the internal gills being placed on the edge of the divisions between the gill openings on 
the side of the neck. The heart is more reptilian than piscine, having three com- 
partments, two auricles and one ventricle, and affords one of the strongest reasons for 
ranking the creature among the former class. 

There are several species of Lepidosiren, divided, in the catalogue in the British 
Museum, into two genera, distinguished from each other by the number of ribs. The 
species which is found in Southern America, and is there known under the popular name 
of CARAMUEU (Lepidosiren paradoxa), has fifty-five pairs of ribs, whereas the African species 
has only thirty-six pairs. The colour of the Lepidosiren is darkish brown with a wash 
of grey. 

THE next order of Crawling Batrachians is called by the name of Meantia, and contains 
a very few but very remarkable species. In all these creatures the body is long and 
smooth, without scales, and the gills are very conspicuous, retaining their position 
throughout the life of the animal. There are always two or four limbs, furnished with 
toes, but these members are very weak, and indeed rudimentary, and both the palate and 
the lower jaw are toothed. 

The first example of this order is the celebrated PEOTEUS, discovered by the Baron de 
Zois, in the extraordinary locality in which it dwells. 

At Adelsberg, in the duchy of Carniola, is a most wonderful cavern, called the Grotto 
of the Maddalena, extending many hundred feet below the surface of the earth, and con- 
sequently buried in the profoundest darkness. In this cavern exists a little lake, roofed 
with stalactites, surrounded with masses of rock, and floored with a bed of soft mud, upon 
which the Proteus may be seen crawling uneasily, as if endeavouring to avoid the unwel- 
come light by which its presence is known. These creatures are not always to be 
found in the lake, though after heavy rains they are tolerably abundant, and the road by 
which they gain admission is at present a mystery. 

The theory of Sir II. Davy is, " that their natural residence is a deep subterraneous 


lake, from which in great floods they are sometimes forced through the crevices of the 
rocks into the places where they are found ; and it does not appear to me impossible, when 
the peculiar nature of the countiy is considered, that the same great cavity may furnish 
the individuals which have been found at Adelsberg and at Sittich." 

Whatever may be the solution of the problem, the discovery of this animal is extremely 
valuable, not only as an aid to the science of comparative anatomy, but as affording 
another instance of the strange and wondrous forms of animal life which still survive in 
hidden and unsuspected nooks of the earth. 

Many of these animals have been brought in a living state to this country, and have 
survived for a considerable time when their owners have taken pains to accommodate 
their condition as nearly as possible to that of their native waters. I have had many 
opportunities of seeing some fine specimens, brought by Dr. Lionel Beale from the cave at 
Adelsberg. They could hardly be said to have any habits, and their only custom seemed 
to be the systematic avoidance of light. Dr. Beale has kindly forwarded to me the fol- 
lowing account of these curious creatures : 

PROTEUS. Proteus angvinns. 

" One of the Proteuses I brought over from Adelsberg lived lor live years, and, what is 
very interesting, passed four years of his life in the same water, a little fresh being added 
from time to time to make up for the loss by evaporation. He lived in about a quart oi 
water, which was placed in a large globe, this being kept dark by an outer covering oJ 
green baize. Perhaps half a pint of water may have been added during two years. 

He was not once fed while he was in confinement, and one of his companions died soon 
after taking a worm before he had been two years in this country. 

The one I kept was very active, and his movements were as rapid as those of an eeL 
He was thinner just before death than when he was brought from the cave, but the loss 
of substance was so very slow as not to be perceptible from year to year, and to the last 
he retained the power of performing very active muscular movements. 

His external gills always contracted when a strong light was thrown upon them. The 
circulation of the blood in the vessels of these organs was very often exhibited ; the 
animal being placed in a long tube with a flat extremity, provided with an arrangement 
for the constant supply of water, and on several occasions some of the large blood 
corpuscules were removed for the purpose of microscopical examination, so that the 
animal was not placed under the most favourable circumstances for living without food. 

There are probably very few more striking examples of very slow death from starva 
tion than this, and it is probable that the ultimately fatal results were as much caused b> 


JTECTURUS. Nectunu lattrdlit. 

confinement, change of air and temperature, and occasional exposure to light for some 
hours, as from mere starvation. It is well-known, for example, that, as a general rule, the 
Batrachia endure starvation most remarkably." 

The gills of the Proteus are very apparent, and of a reddish colour, on account of the 
blood that circulates through them. I have often witnessed this phenomena by means of 
the ingenious arrangement invented by Dr. Beale, by which the creature was held firmly 
in its place while a stream of water was kept constantly flowing through the tube in 
which it was confined. The blood discs of this animal are of extraordinary size ; so large, 
indeed, that they can be distinguished with a common pocket magnifier, even while 
passing through the vessels. Some of the blood corpuscules of the specimen described 
above are now in my possession, and, together with those of the lepidosiren, form a 
singular contrast to the blood corpuscules of man, the former exceeding the latter in 
dimensions as an ostrich egg exceeds that of a pigeon. 

The colour of the Proteus is pale faded flesh tint, with a wash of grey. The eyes are 
quite useless, and are hidden beneath the skin, those organs being needless in the 
dark recesses where the Proteus lives. Its length is about a foot. What are the natural 
habits of this strange animal, what is its food, of what nature is its development, and what 
is its use, are a series of problems at present unanswered. By some writers it has been 
thought to be merely the larval state of some large Batrachian at present unknown ; but 
the anatomical investigations that have been made into its structure seem to confirm the 
idea that it is a perfect being, and one of those species which carry the gills throughout 
their whole existence. 

IN the NECTUEUS, the head is much broader and flatter and the tail shorter than in the 
preceding species. This animal belongs to the same family as the proteus, but is a native 
of America, being found in the Mississippi and several of the lakes. It is rather a large 
animal, attaining, when adult, a length of two or three feet, and being of a thick and 
sturdy make. The gills of this creature are large and well tufted, and the limbs are 
furnished with four toes on each foot, but without claws. 



The general colour of this creature is olive-brown above, dotted with black, and with a 
black streak from the nostril through the eye, and along each side to the tail. Below it is 
blackish brown with olive spots. 

OUE last example of the Batrachians is the curious SIEEN, or MUD-EEL, as it is 
sometimes called, on account of its elongated eel-like form and its mud-loving habits. 

It is a native of several parts of America, and is found most plentifully in Carolina, 
where it haunts the low-lying and marshy situations. The rice-grounds seem to be its 
most favoured localities, the muddy soil being the substance best adapted for its means of 

. ,\ 

SIREN. Wren lacertina. 

progression. Its food seems to consist almost entirely of worms and various insects, of 
which it will consume a considerable quantity every day. A fine specimen that lived for 
some time in the Zoological Gardens used to feed upon earthworms, of which it would 
devour about eighteen or twenty every two days. This individual passed the greater part 
of its time beneath the thick stratum of soft mud with which the bed of the basin was 
profusely covered. This was a very long specimen, and by an uninitiated observer would 
probably have been taken for an eel. 

The head of the Siren is small in proportion to the size of the animal, the eye is very 
small, and the gill tufts are three in number on each side, and beautifully plumed. It has 
3nly one pair of legs, the hinder set being wanting, and the front pair are extremely 
small, and of no practical use in progression. It has only three toes on each foot. The 
lolom is dark blackish brown, and the length of a fine specimen is about three feet. 


IN the FISHES, the last class of vertebrated animals, the chief and most obvious dis- 
tinction lies in their adaptation to a sub-aqueous existence, and their unfitness for life 
upon dry land. 

There are many vertebrate animals which pass the whole of their lives in the water, 
and would die if transferred to the land, such as the whales and the whole of the cetacean 
tribe, an account of which may be found in vol. i. page 521. Biit these creatures are generally 
incapable of passing their life beneath the waters, as their lungs are formed like those of 
the mammalia, and they are forced to breathe atmospheric air at the surface of the waves. 
And though they would die if left upon land, their death would occur from hunger and 
inability to move about in search of food, and in almost every case a submersion of two 
continuous hours would drown the longest breathed whale that swims the seas. 

The Fishes, on the contrary, are expressly formed for aquatic existence ; and the 
beautiful respiratory organs, which we know by the popular term of " gills," are so 
constructed that they can supply sufficient oxygen for the aeration of the blood. They 
have not the power, as is sometimes imagined, of separating the oxygen, which, in its 
combination with certain proportions of hydrogen, composes the element in which they 
live, but are able to take advantage of the atmospheric air which is contained in 
the water. 

Any reader who happens to possess a globe with gold-Fish can prove, and doubtlessly 
has proved, the truth of this assertion. It often happens that when the supply of water is 
insufficient, or the mouth of the vessel too small to permit the air to be absorbed by the 
water in sufficient volume, the Fish come gasping to the surface, and there swim with 
gaping mouths, sucking in the air with audible gulps. But if a little water be taken up in 
a cup or spoon, and dashed back from a little height, so as to cause a sharp splash, or, 
better still, if a syringe be employed for the same purpose, so as to drive a quantity of 
atmospheric air into the water ; the Fish soon become contented, their anxious restlessness 
abates, and they quietly swim backward and forward, without displaying any more signs 
of uneasiness. 

The reason that Fishes die when removed from the water, is not because the air is 
poisonous to them, as some seem to fancy, but because the delicate gill membranes become 
dry and collapse against each other, so that-the circulation of the blood is stopped, and the 
oxygen of the atmosphere can no longer act upon it. It necessarily follows, that those 
Fish whose gills can longest retain moisture will live longest on dry land, and that those 
whose gills dry most rapidly will die the soonest. The herring for example, where the 
delicate membranes are not sufficiently guarded from the effects of heat, and evaporation, 
dies almost immediately it is taken out of the water ; whereas the carp, a fish whose 
gill-covers can retain much moisture, will survive for an astonishingly long time upon 
dry land, and the anabas, or climbing perch, is actually able to travel from one pool to 
another, ascending the banks, and even traversing hot and dusty roads. 

The entire shape of these creatures, subjected though it be to manifold variations, is 
always subservient to the great object of passing rapidly through the ponderous liquid in 
which they swim, so as to enable them to secure their prey or avoid their enemies. Even 
in creatures of such different shapes as the sharks, the eels, the salmon tribe, and the flat 
fish, the capacity for speed is really wonderful, and is in all effected by simple and 
beautiful modifications of one mechanical principle, that of the inclined plane or screw. 

In all Fishes, the power of progression lies in the wonderfully muscular tail with its 
appended fin, and the creature drives itself forward by repeated strokes of this organ in 
exactly the same manner that a sailor urges a boat through the water by the backward 
and forward movements of a single oar in the stern. 

To show the power of this principle, I will mention that being on one occasion left 


with a party of friends on board a fishing barge in a small lake, and deserted by an ill- 
conditioned boatman, who refused either to put us ashore or take us to a better fishirig- 
grcund, and so went misanthropically home to his dinner, I called to mind the progres- 
sion of the Pishes, and straightway became independent of the boatman. After hauling up 
the anchor, I inserted the butt end of the largest fishing-rod into the head of the rudder so 
as to form an extempore tiller, and by moving the rudder gently to and fro I was able to 
propel the barge in any direction and to any distance. We thus traversed the lake at our 
pleasure, drove the barge ashore at its further extremity, and left the boatman to find it 
and take it back as he could. 

Even the eels and the flat Fishes, with their gracefully serpentine movements, adopt 
this mode of progression, though it is not so apparent as in the Fish whose bodies are less 
flexible and accordingly employ more force in the tail itself. 

The fins are scarcely employed at all in progression, but are usually used as balancers, 
and occasionally to check an onward movement. Before proceeding further, I may 
mention that all the fins of a Fish are distinguished by appropriate names. As they are 
extremely important in determining the species and even the genus of the individual, and 
as these members will be repeatedly mentioned in the following pages, I will briefly 
describe them. 

Beginning at the head and following the line of the back, we come upon a fin, called 
from its position the " dorsal " fin. In very many species there are two such fins, called, 
from their relative positions, the first and the second dorsal fins. The extremity of the 
body is furnished with another fin, popularly called the tail, but more correctly the 
caudal fin. The fins which are set on that part of the body which corresponds to the 
shoulders are termed the " pectoral " fins ; that which is found on the under surface and 
in front of the vent is called the abdominal fin, and that which is also on the lower 
surface, and between the vent and the tail, is known by the name of the " anal " fin. All 
these fins vary extremely in shape, size, and position. The figure on page 198 exhibits 
all these fins. 

The gill-cover, or operculum as it is technically called, is separated into four portions, 
and is so extensively used in determining the genus and species that a brief description 
must be given. The front portion, which starts immediately below the eye, is called the 
" prse-operculum," and immediately behind it comes the " operculum." Below the latter 
is another piece, termed from its position, the " sub-operculum," and the lowest piece, 
which touches all the three above it, is called the " inter-operculum." Below the chin 
and reaching to the sub-operculum, are the slender bones, termed the " branchiostegous 
rays," which differ in shape and number according to the kind of Fish. 

The scales with which most of the Fish are covered are very beautiful in structure, 
aud are formed by successive laminae, increasing therefore in size according to the age of 
the Fish. They are attached to the skin by one edge, and they overlap each other in 
such a manner as to allow the creature to pass through the water with the least possible 
resistance. The precise mode of overlapping varies materially in different genera. Along 
each side of the Fish runs a series of pores, through which passes a mucous secretion 
formed in some glands beneath. In order to permit this secretion to reach the outer 
surface of the body, each scale upon the row which comes upon the pores is pierced with 
a little tubular aperture, which is very perceptible on the exterior, and constitutes the 
" lateral line." The shape and position of this line are also used in determining the 
precise position held by any species. In comparing the scales taken from different Fishes, 
it is always better to take those from the lateral line. 

The heart of the Fish is very simple, consisting of two chambers only, one auricle 
and one ventricle. The blood is in consequence cold. 

The hearing of Fishes appears in most cases to be dull, and some persons have asserted 
that they are totally destitute of this faculty. It is now, however, known tnat many 
species have been proved capable of hearing sounds, and that carp and other fish can be 
taught to come for their food at the sound of a bell or whistle. The internal structure of 
the ear is moderately developed, and there are some curious little bones found within the 
cavity, technically called otoliths. 



The sense of touch seems to have its chief residence in the mouth and surrounding 
parts, the scaly covering rendering the surface of the body necessarily obtuse to sensation. 
The smell seems to be strongly developed, if it be possible to pronounce an opinion from 
the size and distribution of the nasal nerves. The brain is very small in these creatures, 
and from its shape, as well as its dimensions, denotes a low degree of intelligence. 


The arrangement of the bones is very curious, and is so complicated that a better idea 
can be formed by examining the accompanying illustration than by reading many pages 
of laboured description. The skeleton is that of the common perch. 

In the anatomy of the Fishes there are many other interesting structures, which will 
be described when treating of the particular species in which they are best developed. 

THE fishes comprised in the first order, are called by the rather harshly sounding title 
of Chondropterygii, a term derived from two Greek words, the former signifying cartilage 
and the latter a fin, and given to these creatures because their bones contain a very large 
amount of cartilaginous substance, and are consequently soft and flexible. The bones of 
the head are rather harder than those of the body and fins. 

It is necessary, before entering into any description of the different species, to premise 
that the arrangement of the fishes is a most difficult and complicated subject, in which 
no two systematic naturalists seem to agree entirely, I have, therefore, followed the 
course which has been adopted throughout the whole of this work, and accepted the 
arrangement given in the catalogues of the British Museum. 

The cartilaginous fishes are again subdivided into groups, in the first of which the 
gills are quite free, and the members of this group are accordingly called by the name of 
Eleutheropomi, w free-gilled fishes. What quality in the fishes should give birth to 
such polysyllablic and harsh-sounding names, is not easy to say ; but the fact is patent 
that not even in botany is the scientific terminology so repulsive as in the fishes. I shall 
endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid this technical language, and to throw the scientific 
descriptions to the end of the work, a? in the two former volumes ; and the reader may 
feel sure when his attention is struck by a long and difficult name, that it is only used in 
consequence of the exigencies of the occasion. 

The first family, of which the common STURGEON is a good and familiar example, are 

STURGEON. Acipenser dttilus. 

at once known by the cartilaginous or bony shields with which the head and body are 
at intervals covered. 

In this remarkable fish the mouth is placed well under the head, and in fact seems to 
be set almost in the throat, the long snout appearing to be entirely a superfluous 
ornament. The mouth projects downwards like a short and wide tube, much wider than 
long, and on looking into this tube no teeth are to be seen. Between the mouth and the 
extremity of the snout is a row of fleshy finger-like appendages, four in number, and 
apparently organs of touch. 

One or two species of Sturgeon are important in commerce, as two valuable articles, 
namely isinglass and caviare, are made from them. The former substance is too well 
known to need a description, and the mode of preparing it for use is briefly as follows. 
The air-bladder is removed from the fish, washed carefully in fresh water, and then hung 
up in the air for a day or two so as to stiffen. The outer coat or membrane is then 
peeled off, and the remainder is cut up into strips of greater or lesser length, technically 
called staples, the long staples being the most valuable. This substance affords so large 
a quantity of gelatinous matter, thai; one part of isinglass dissolved in a hundred parts of 
boiling water will form a stiff jelly when cold. 

Caviare is made from the roe of this fish, and as nearly three millions of eggs have 
been taken from a single fish, the amount of caviare that one Sturgeon can afford is 
rather large. It is made by removing all the membranes, and then washing the roe 
carefully with vinegar or white wine. It is next dried thoroughly in the air, well salted, 
subjected to strong pressure in order to force out all moisture caused by the wet-absorbing 


properties of the salt, and is lastly packed in little barrels for sale. The caviare made on 
the Caspian is considered the best. In England it is not much eaten, but in Russia it 
forms a large item in the national consumption, probably on account of the great number 
of fasts observed by the Greek Church. The roes of several ether fish are employed in 
the same manner, and in Italy, a substance called " botargo " is prepared from the roe of 
a species of mullet. 

The common Sturgeon has sometimes, but not very often, been found in our rivers, 
and whenever it is captured in the Thames within the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor, it 
is termed a royal fish, and becomes the property of the Crown. It is not unfrequently 
taken near our shores, more especially on the eastern coast, and most persons are 
familiar with the occasional appearance of one of these fine fish on a fishmonger's stall. 
The flesh of the Sturgeon is held in some estimation, and in the olden English days, it 
was always reserved for the table of the king. Some very fine specimens have sometimes 
been caught in our rivers, the largest on record having weighed four hundred and sixty 
pounds. The size of this specimen may be imagined from its weight, as another individual 
which weighed only one hundred and ninety pounds measured eight feet in length. 

The body of the Sturgeon is elongated, and slightly five-sided from the head to the 
tail. Along the body run five rows of flattened bony plates, each plate being marked 
with slight grooves in a radiating fashion, and having a pointed and partly conical spine 
on each plate, the points being directed towards the tail. The plates along the summit 
of the back are the largest. 

THEEE are many species of Sturgeons, and among the most remarkable are those 
which are shown in the accompanying illustration, both being natives of the rivers of 
North America. 

The two smaller figures represent the SHOVEL-FISH, so-called from the curious form 
of its head, which is flattened, rounded, and really not unlike the implement from which 
it derives its popular title. The two figures are given in order to show the different 
aspect of the adult and young. The reader will doubtlessly remark the large size and 
conspicuous arrangement of the bony scales along the body. 

THE central figure represents the SPOONBILL STURGEON, sometimes called, in allusion 
to the singular shape of the head, the PADDLE-FISH. This creature is remarkable for 
several reasons. In the first place, the uncommonly elongated and flattened snout is 
sufficiently conspicuous to arrest the attention of even the most casual observer, and 
in the second place, the body is quite smooth, and wants those bony plates which 
generally form so characteristic an adornment of the Sturgeon. Several specimens of 
this remarkable fish are now in the British Museum, and were taken from the Ohio and 

THE very singular family of the Chirnaeridai contains a few but remarkable species. 

Both these creatures are sufficiently quaint and ungainly in aspect ; but as the 
NORTHERN CHIJMLERA has sometimes been found on our coasts, that species has been 
chosen for the illustration. It is also known by the title of RABBIT-FISH, probably 
on account of its general aspect, and KING OF THE HERRINGS, because it follows the 
shoals of those fishes during their wonderful migrations, and makes great havoc among 
their numbers. The appendage to the top of the head is also looked upon by the 
Norwegians in the light of a kingly crown, and has contributed towards its royal titla 
It is known in some localities under the name of SEA CAT. 

This species is mostly found in the Northern seas, aud is, when living, a most 
beautiful creature, its body glowing with golden brown variegations upon a white ground. 
The title of Gold and Silver Fish is sometimes given to the Northern Chimaera in 
consequence of this gorgeous colouring. The pupil of the eye is green, and the iris 
is white. It feeds mostly upon the smaller fish, but finds much of its subsistence 
among the various molluscs, crustaceans, and other inhabitants of the ocean. The flesh 
is not considered good, being hard and coarse. 

SHOVEL-FISH. ScaphiorJiynchus cataphracUi. 

SPOONBILL STURGEON. Polyodon gpatnla. 

The form of this fish is very peculiar, the body being to^eraoly large and rounded 
towards the point; and the tail tapering rapidly until it ends in an elongated thong, 
almost like the lash of a whip. The second dorsal fin commences immediately behind 
the first, and extends along the tail nearly to the extremity of its lengthened filamentary 
termination. The sexes may readily be distinguished from each other, both by the 

NOUl'UKUN CliiMJiKA. Cki-nuera 

shape of the head aiid first dorsal fin, and by a pair of bony appendages close to the 
ventral fins. It is not a large species, seldom exceeding a yard in length. 

In the seas of the southern hemisphere, there is another species of Chimsera, called 
from its locality, the SOUTHEKN CHIMJEEA (Call&rhynchus antdrctica) or ELEPHANT-FISH, 
the latter title being given to it on account of the extraordinary prolongation of the 
snout. The Araucanian name for this species is CHALGUA ACHAGUAL. The snout of 
this fish is developed into a strange cartilaginous prolongation, which is bent back- 
wards in a hook-like form, and is thought by some persons to bear a resemblance to 
a common hoe. 

The tail of this species does not correspond in oddity with its head, being without 
the long filament that gives so strange an aspect to its Northern relative. The colour 
is satiny white mottled with brown, and the size is about the same as that of the 
Northern Chimsera. 

THE fishes belonging to the next sub-order have their gills fixed by their outer edge 
to the divisions in the gill-openings at the side of the neck. This sub-order includes 
the Sharks and the Bays, many representatives of which creatures are found on the 
British coasts. 

The first family of this large and important group is known by the name of Scyllidse, 
and its members can be recognised by several distinguishing characteristics. They 
have spout-holes on the head, and the gill-openings are five in number on each side. 
Sometimes there only seem to be four openings, but on closer examination the fourth and 
fifth are found set closely together, the opening of the fifth appearing within that of the 
fourth. The teeth are sharp and pointed, and the tail is long, notched on the outer side, 
and is not furnished with a fin. 

One of the commonest British species is the LITTLE DOG-FISH, called by several 
other names, as is usual with a familiar species that is found in many localities. Among 
ROBIN Huss. 

LITTLE DOG-FISH. Scyttwm canicvtum. 

BOCK. DOG-FISH. Scyllwm catulus. 

This fish is plentiful on our coasts, especially in the southern extremity of England, 
and is often thought a great nuisance by fishermen, whose bait it takes instead of the 
more valuable fish for which the hook was set. It generally remains near the bottom 
of the water, and is a voracious creature, feeding upon crustaceans and small fish. It 
often follows the shoals of migrating fish, and on account of that custom is called the 
Dog-fish. Generally its flesh is neglected, but when properly dressed, it is by no means 
unpalatable, and is said to be sometimes trimmed and d essed in fraudulent imitation 
of more valuable fish. 

The skin of this and other similar species is rough and file-like, and is employed for 
many purposes. The handles of swords, where a firm hold is required, are sometimes 
bound with this substance ; and joiners use it in polishing the surface of fine woods so as 
to bring out the grain. It is also employed instead of sand-paper upon match boxes. 

The egg of this species is very curious in form and structure, and is often found on 
the sea-shore, flung up by the waves, especially after a storm. These objects are familiar 
to all observant wanderers by the sea-shore, under the name of mermaid's purses, sailor's 
purses, or sea purses. Their form is oblong with curved sides, and at each angle there 
is a long tendril-like appendage, having a strong curl, and in form not unlike the 
tendrils of the vine. The use of these appendages is to enable the egg to cling 
to the growing seaweed at the bottom of the ocean, and is to prevent it from being 
washed away by the tide. After a storm, however, when the agitated waves have torn 
up the beds of marine wrack and other seaweeds that usually lie in still calmness 
beneath their sheltering waters, and especially during the time of low tide, these objects 
may be found lying upon the uncovered and dripping shore, their strong but delicate 


tendrils entwined in almost inextricable complexity among the salt-loving vegetation 
of the ocean, and their tiny inmates as yet imperfect and unborn. 

Water, which to these creatures contains the breath of life, gains access to the 
imprisoned sharkling, through two slight longitudinal apertures, one towards each end 
of the egg ; and it is a very remarkable fact that in these waters the undeveloped 
young are furnished with small external gills, which are afterwards absorbed into the 
system a phenomenon curiously analogous to the structure of the tadpole. The sub- 
stance of the egg-shell, if such a term can be applied to the envelope which contains 
the young, is of a moderately stiff horny character, becoming harder when dry, and of 
a semi-transparent yellowish hue, not very unlike, though not so clear as the yellow 
portions of tortoise-shell. 

For the escape of the young Shark, when strong enough to make its own way in 
the wider world of waters, an outlet is provided in the opened end of the envelope, 
which opens when pushed from within and permits the little creature to make its way 
out, though it effectually bars the entrance against any external foe. When it first 
leaves its horny home, the neophyte Shark bears with it a capsule, containing a portion 
of the nutrimental principle of the egg, as is seen in the chicken of the common fowl, 
and is enabled to exist upon this substance until it has attained the power of foraging 
for itself, when the small remainder of the capsule is absorbed into the abdomen. 

The head of the .Little Dog-fish is rather flat upon the top, there is a little spiracle 
or blow-hole behind each eye, and the shape of the mouth is somewhat like a horse-shoe. 
The general colour of the body is pde reddish on the upper parts, covered with many 
little spots of dark reddish brown ; below it is yellowish white. The length of this 
species is about eighteen inches. 

THE second species shown in the engraving is called the ROCK DOG-FISH, b 
it is often found on rocky coasts. From its superior size, it is also known by the name 
of LAEGE SPOTTED DOG-FISH, and on several coasts it goes by the curt and not 
euphonious name of BOUNCE. 

The habits of this fish are so like those of the preceding species, that they need 
no description. 

It may readily be distinguished from the little dog-fish by the large size and fewer 
number of the spots, as well as by the shape of the ventral fins, which in this species are 
nearly squared at the end, whereas in the former they are of a diamond-like form. The 
colour of the Rock Dog-fish is brownish grey above, without the red tinge of the little 
dog-fish, and covered rather sparingly with large patches of blackish brown. Below it 
is whitish. The length of a fine specimen will sometimes be nearly a yard. 

ANOTHER species of Dog-fish, namely the BLACK-MOUTHED DOG-FISH, or the EYED 
DOG-FISH (Pristidurus melanostomus), is mentioned by Mr. Yarrell among the list of 
British fishes. It may be at once distinguished from either of the preceding species 
by its large snout, and a row of small flat and sharp-edged prickles, arranged in saw- 
like fashion on the upper rim of the tail fin. The generic title Pristidurus, or Saw-tail, 
is given to the fish in allusion to this peculiarity. Its colour is light brown on the 
upper surface, sprinkled with spots, the smaller of which are scattered irregularly, and 
the larger arranged in four rows, two on each side. Its length is between two and 
three feet. 

The BLUE SHARK, so called from the fine slaty blue colour of its skin, is a not 
unfrequent visitor of our shores, and is the object of the deadliest hatred to the fisher- 
men, who are sometimes doomed to see their fish stolen, their nets cut to pieces, and 
their lines hopelessly ruined by this fish, without the least power of checking its 

About the month of June, according to Mr. Couch's observations, this Shark makes 
its appearance on our coasts, and has sometimes been so plentiful that nine or ten have 
been taken by our fishing boats in a single day. As the fishermen are hauling up their 

BLDli SHARK. Squaliis 

lines with the fish upon the hooks, the Blue Shark will follow the fish as it is drawn 
upwards, seize upon it, and hook itself for its trouble. Exasperated by the unsuspected 
check upon its maraudings, it tries to bite the line asunder, a feat easily performed 
by its lancet-like teeth with their notched edges. 

Sometimes, however, it takes to another stratagem, and as soon as it feels the hook, 
rolls itself round so rapidly on its axis, that it winds the line round its body into a 
mass of inextricable entanglement. So effectually is this feat achieved, that in spite of 
the value of the line, the fishermen have been known to give up any attempt to unravel 
its knotty convolutions. This fish has another fashion of biting the line asunder without 
any apparent reason. 

Perhaps, however, it never is so thoroughly destructive as in the pilchard season, 
when it follows the vast shoals of these fish to our shores and devours them whole- 
sale. Even when they are inclosed in the net, the Blue Shark is not to be baffled or 
deprived of its expected banquet, for, swimming along the whole length of the net, it 
bites at the inclosed fish, caring nothing for the meshes, and taking out large 
mouthfuls of mingled net and pilchards, swallows them together. 

There is hardly a season passes when the capture of a fine specimen of the Blue 
Shark on our coasts is not recorded in the local papers. The sailors have an idea that 
this voracious fish is able to succour her young when in danger, by opening her mouth 
and letting them swim down her throat. It is undoubtedly true, that living young have 
been found in the stomach of large sharks ; but whether they had .been swallowed as 
a means of protection, is by no means proved. The reader will doubtlessly remember the 
similar stories that have been told of the viper and other poisonous snakes. 


In the foreground of the engraving is introduced the skull of a large Shark, for the 
purpose of showing the terrible teeth with which it is armed, and which lie in several 
rows, ready to take the place of those which are broken or cast off when their w r ork is 
done. From these teeth, which cut like broken glass, the natives of many savage 
lands make tools and weapons of war, by ingeniously fixing them into wooden handles. 

The voracity and dulness of nerve belonging to the Shark is really wonderful. One 
of ~my friends was fishing after a large Shark that was following the vessel, and after a 
little time, succeeded in inducing the fish to take the great hook that had been nicely 
baited with pork to suit his palate. Too sudden a jerk, however, having been given 
to the line, the hook tore its way through the side of the cheek, setting the Shark 
free. The wound was a terrible one, and bled profusely, but the Shark seemed to care 
little or nothing about it, still hovered about the bait, as if unable to resist its attractions, 
and after a little while, was hooked a second time and hauled safely on board. 

The capture of a Shark is always an event on board ship, especially if she be a sailing 
vessel and the wind has fallen. A hook made for the purpose, is secured to a fathom 
or so of iron chain, the Shark being capable of biting through a rope in an instant, and 
in no way so particular in its diet as to need fine tackle. Indeed, as in the last- 
mentioned instance, the creature seems to be perfectly aware of the danger, but to be 
incapable of resisting the tempting morsel. The other end of the chain is firmly lashed 
to a stout rope, and the latter secured to the vessel, as one rush of a powerful Shark 
would pull half a dozen men overboard. 

All things being ready, a good large piece of pork is fixed tightly on the hook, 
and allowed to tow overboard. The Shark, being to the full as inquisitive as the cat, 
comes up with true feline curiosity, and sniffs at the bait with an air of deliberate 
scrutiny. Sometimes, it having perhaps lately partaken of a good meal, it is very 
coy about taking the bait, and keeps the anxious anglers above in a state of tantalized 
impatience for an hour or more. Generally, however, it dashes at the bait at once, 
and has even been known to leap from the water and hook itself before the bait had 
even reached the surface. 

Now begins a mighty struggle, and all is eager excitement. The Shark knows no 
wiles, but uses all its great strength to tear away from the hook by sheer force, having 
apparently but slight sense of pain, and in many cases would do so were not a check put 
upon its efforts by a rope knotted into a bowline and dexterously slipped over its tail. 
Being now held by both extremities, it is shorn of its strength like Samson without 
his locks, and lifted on deck by both lines. Sometimes a trident-like harpoon, 
technically called a "grains," the handle of which is heavily loaded with lead to make 
it fall with greater force, is dropped upon the struggling fish. 

Being brought on deck, however, the struggles of the creature recommence with 
tenfold violence. Twisting with marvellous agility, snapping right and left with its 
murderous teeth, and dealing heavy blows with its terrible tail, it makes the deck 
tremble under its strokes, until some experienced sailor runs in with an axe, and with 
a blow across the tail, reduces the creature to malignant impotence. The muscles of the 
Shark are endowed with astonishing irritability, and long after the body has been cut to 
pieces and parts of it cooked and eaten, the flesh will quiver if pricked with a knife- 
point ; the separated heart will beat steadily while lying on the bare boards, and the 
jaws of the severed head will snap with frightful vehemence if any object be put between 
the teeth. 

Sailors generally make high festival at the dismemberment of a Shark, and have 
great delight in opening the creature for the purpose of finding out the articles which 
it had swallowed. For a Shark, when following a vessel, will eat anything that falls 
overboard. The contents of a lady's workbox, a cow's hide entire, knives, hats, boots, 
md all kind of miscellanea have been found in the interior of a Shark ; while on one 
occasion were discovered the papers of a slaver, which had been flung overboard when 
the vessel was overhauled, and by means of which papers so strangely recovered, the 
vessel was identified and condemned. 

The colour of this species is beautiful slate-blue above, and white below. 

HAMMER-HEADED SHARK. Sphyrnias zygiena. 

THE remarkable fish depicted in the accompanying illustration affords a striking 
instance of the wild and wondrous modifications of form assumed by certain creatures, 
without any ascertained purpose being gained thereby. We know by analogous reasoning 
that some wise and beautiful purpose is served by this astonishing variation in form ; 
but as far as is yet known, there is nothing in the habits of this species that accounts 
for the necessity of this strange shape. 

The shape of the body is not unlike that of the generality of Sharks, but it is 
upon the head that the attention is at once rivetted. As may be seen from the figure, 
the head is expanded laterally in a most singular manner, bearing, indeed, no small 
resemblance to the head of a hammer. The eyes are placed at either end of the 
projecting extremities, and the mouth is set quite below, its corners just coinciding with 
a line drawn through the two projecting lobes of the head. It is worthy of notice, that 
several of our commonest British insects those beautiful dragon-flies belonging to the 
genus Agrion have heads modelled on a very similar principle, and there are some 
exotic insects where -this singular shape is even more exaggerated, the eyes being set 
quite at the end of long lateral footstalks. 

This species attains to a considerable size, seven or eight feet being a common 
measurement, and specimens of eleven or twelve feet having been known. Its flesh is 
said to be almost uneatable, being hard, coarse, and ill-flavoured. The Hammer-headed 
Shark produces living young, and from the interior of a very fine specimen captured 
near Tcnby in 1839, and measuring more than ten feet in length, were taken no less 
than thirty-nine young, all perfectly formed, and averaging nineteen inches in length. 

TOPE. Oniev* mm. 

SMOOTH HOUND. Musttlvx vtdgdrh. 

Several species of Hammer-headed Sharks are known, among which the Heart- 
headed Shark (Sphyrnias Tiburo), has the best developed head, and the Broad-headed 
Shark (Sphyrnias Idticeps), the most so. Another species, the Tudes (Sphyrnias Tudes), 
thought to inhabit the Mediterranean, and the shores of Southern America, is inter- 
mediate between the two extremes. 

The general colour of this species is greyish brown above, and greyish white below. 

THE destructive and voracious fish, which is indiscriminately known by the names 
of TCPE, PENNY DOG, or MILLER'S DOG, according to the particular coast near which 
it is found, is another familiar British representative of that great shark family, from 
whose larger developments we are in this favoured country happily free. 

The Tope is commoner towards the southern than the northern coasts, but wherever 
it is found, it is an intolerable nuisance, behaving itself much after the example set by 
the blue shark, and being, in proportion to its dimensions, quite as injurious to the fishing 
interest. Like the last-mentioned species, it produces living young, the number of a 
single family being about thirty. They are born in May and June, and mostly remain 
on our coasts through their first winter, not retiring into deep water till they have 
entered their second year. 

Like the blue shark, the Tope is fond of robbing the fishermen's hooks, and will in 
like manner endeavour to free itself when hooked, biting through the line, or rolling 
round with such rapidity that it winds the long cord about its body into tangled knots. 
The upper surface of the Tope is slaty grey, becoming lighter towards the abdomen, which 
is nearly white. 


THE prettily marked and curiously toothed SMOOTH HOUND is also known under the 
titles of SKATE-TOOTHED SHAKE and RAY-TOOTHED DOG, the two latter titles being 
appropriately given it on account of its curious and beautifully formed teeth, which 
resemble in form the cylinders of a crushing mill, and are used for a similar purpose. 

The jaws, instead of being studded with rows of sharp and knife-like teeth, are supplied 
with two rounded projections on which the flat-topped teeth are set closely together like 
the stones of a mosaic, and which are so formed that they roll over each other as the 
jaws are closed, producing a crushing effect of enormous power. These curious teeth are 
rendered needful by the food on which the Smooth Hound lives, namely the hard-shelled 
crustaceans, whose armour of proof is nevertheless soon comminuted under the bony 

As may be inferred from the character of its food, the Smooth Hound is not destructive 
to the fisheries, and may be allowed to live in harmless security. Its flesh is said to be 
tolerably well-flavoured, and even moderately tender. It produces its young in a living 
state, but is not very prolific, the number at a birth rarely exceeding ten or twelve. 
Almost as soon as born they retire into deep water, so that though a tolerably plentiful 
species, it is not seen so often as those which live in shallow waters. 

The colour of the Smooth Hound is pearly grey, and above the lateral line, which in 
this species is very strongly marked, the body is decorated with small round white spots, 
very conspicuous while the creature is young, but becoming fainter when it attains 
maturity. The under parts are whitish yellow. 

BEFOEE noticing some of the larger and more terrible species, we must not omit the 
POEBEAGLE, sometimes called the BEAUMAEIS SHAEK (Istirus cornubicus), a fish of a 
wonderfully mild aspect for a Shark, and notable for a very porpoise-like aspect. The 
name of Porbeagle is in fact owing to this resemblance. This species feeds on fish of 
various kinds, three full-grown hakes having been found in the stomach of one individual, 
and derives some of its subsistence from the larger molluscs. It attains a rather large 
size, five or six feet being a common length. Its colour is uniform greyish black above, 
and white below. 

THE dreadful WHITE SHAKK, the finny pirate of the ocean, is happily almost a stranger 
to our shores, though a stray specimen may now and then visit the British Islands, there 
to find but scant hospitality. 

This is one of the large species that range the ocean, and in some seas are so numerous 
that they are the terror of sailors and natives. One individual, whose jaws are still 
preserved, was said to have measured thirty-seven feet in length, and when we take into 
consideration the many instances where the leg of a man has been bitten off through flesh 
and bone as easily as if it had been a carrot, and even the body of a boy or woman 
severed at a single bite, this great length will not seem to be exaggerated. 

Many portions of this fish are used in commerce. The sailors are fond of cleaning 
and preparing the skull, which, when brought to England, is sure of a ready sale, either for 
a public museum, or to private individuals who are struck with its strange form and 
terrible armature. The spine, too, is frequently taken from this fish, and when dried, it 
passes into the hands of walking-stick makers, who polish it neatly, fit it with a gold 
handle, and sell it at a very high price. One of these sticks will sometimes fetch six or 
seven pounds. There is also a large amount of oil in the Shark, which is thought rather 
valuable, so that in Ceylon and other places a regular trade in this commodity is 
carried on. 

The fins are very rich in gelatine, and in China are, as is said, employed largely in the 
manufacture of that gelatinous soup in which the soul of a Chinese epicure delights, and 
of which the turtle soup of our metropolis is thought by Chinese judges to be a faint 
penumbra or distant imitation. The flesh is eaten by the natives of many Pacific islands ; 
and in some places the liver is looked upon as a royal luxury, being hung on boards in 
the sun until all the contained oil has drained away, and then carefully wrapped up in 
leaves and reserved as a delicacy. 


These islanders have a very quaint method of catching the SharK absurdly impotent in 
theory, but strangely efficacious in practice. They cut a large log of wood into the rude 
resemblance of a canoe, tie a rope round the middle, form the end of the rope into a 
noose, and then set it afloat, leaving the noose to dangle in the water. Whether induced 
by curiosity, or by what strange impulse urged, is not very clear, but the fact is patent 
that before the noose has been floating very long, a Shark is sure to push its head through 
it, and on backing as soon as it feels the obstruction, is caught by the tightening of 
the noose. The natives then go off in their canoes, chasing the bewildered Shark, who is 
unable to dive on account of the floating log, and who is so lustily battered about the 
head with the heavy clubs so admirably made by those ingenious natives, that it is soon 
killed and hauled ashore in triumph. 

The colour of the White Shark is ashen brown above, and white below. 

THE upper figure in the accompanying illustration represents the BASKING SHAEK, 
otherwise known by the name of SAIL-FISH and SUN-FISH. The first and last names are 
derived from its habit of lying motionless on the surface of the water, evidently enjoying 
the rays of the sun ; and the intermediate term refers to the sail-like aspect of its first 
dorsal fin, which projects high out of the water when the fish is swimming near the 
surface, as is shown in the figure. In the Orkneys it is called the HOMER. This word 
has no reference to the Greek poet, with whom the rough fishermen are not likely to have 
much acquaintance, but is a contraction of Hoe-mother, the fish being thought to be the 
parent of the hoe, or picked dog-fish, a species which will presently be described. 

THRESHER, OR FOX SHARK. Alopias wipe*. 

BASKING SHARK. Vetorhinus manmns. 

It is a magnificent fish, often attaining to a lengtn of thirty-live or thirty-six feet, 
tt does not appear, however, to be dangerous in proportion to its size, its teeth being very 
small in proportion to its dimensions, and the only food found in its stomach being the 
remains of crustaceans and probably of echini. 

The Basking Shark is not very uncommon on our shores, especially if westerly winds 
have been prevailing. It seems to be of a rather dull and listless character, allowing 
itself to be approached quite closely by a boat, without giving any signs of alarm until 
the bow of the boat actually touches its person. Owing to this sluggard mode of life, it 
can easily be harpooned, but then bursts into furious energy with startling quickness, 
dives like lightning to a great depth, so as to require a very considerable length of rope, 
and putting forth the vast powers that have been lying dormant in the warm embraces ol 
the sunbeams, like the might of Hercules in Omphale's arms, dashes away with such 
speed, and plunges with such wrathful violence, that its capture is an achievement of great 
difficulty and no small danger. 

The gill apertures of the Basking Shark are extremely long, reaching almost across 
the neck. The head is conical, the muzzle short, and the eyes near the snout. The skin 
is very rough to the touch, whether the hand be passed from head to tail or vice versa, 
and the colour is blackish brown, glossed with a bluish tint. 

THE lower figure is that of a well-known species, familiar under the names of 
THKESHEK, Fox SHARK, SEA Fox, and SEA APE. It is at once to be recognised by the 
peculiar form of the head and the wonderfully long upper lobe of the tail, which equals 


in length the body from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail. Th^ lower lobe is 
quite short, and in no way conspicuous. 

This fish is appropriately called the Thresher on account of its habit of using its long 
and flexible tail after the fashion of a quarter-staff, and dealing the most tremendous 
blows on or near any object that may excite its ire. Sometimes it seems to employ its 
tail in playing off a practical joke or frightening away dolphins or other creatures that 
are disporting themselves in apparent security. The following short account by Captain 
Crow will give a good idea of the powers of this tremendous weapon when wielded by 
the iron muscles of the Thresher : 

" One morning during a calm, when near the Hebrides, all hands were called up at 
three A.M. to witness a battle between several of the fish called Threshers or Fox Sharks 
and some swordtish on the one side and an enormous whale on the other. It was in the 
middle of summer, and the weather being clear and the fish close to the vessel, we 
had a fine opportunity of witnessing the contest. As soon as the whale's back appeared 
above the water, the Threshers, springing several yards into the air, descended with great 
violence upon the object of their rancour, and inflicted upon him the most severe slaps 
with their long tails, the sounds of which resembled the reports of muskets fired at a 

The swordfish in their turn attacked the distressed whale, striking from below, and 
thus beset on all sides, and wounded, where the poor creature appeared, the water around 
him was dyed with blood. In this manner they continued tormenting and wounding 
him for many hours, until we lost sight of him, and I have no doubt that they in the end 
completed his destruction." This strange alliance of two different fish against a marine 
mammal is a truly curious circumstance, and may have a deeper meaning than appears 
on the surface. 

The food of the Thresher consists mostly of fish, and in the stomach of one of these 
creatures taken off the coast of Cornwall were found a quantity of young herrings. The 
colour of the Thresher is dark slaty blue above, and the same colour, but mottled with 
white, below. 

AMONG the British Sharks, the PICKED DOG-FISH deserves notice, on account of the 
curious weapons from which it derives its name. 

In front of each dorsal fin is placed a strong and sharply pointed spine, or pike, which 
has caused the fish to receive its popular name in most parts of the coast. The word is 
a dissyllable, and pronounced Pick-ed. On some of our shores it is called the BONE DOG, 
and in the Orkneys it is known by the name of the HOE. 

These spines form aggressive weapons of a rather formidable character, the fish having 
the capability of directing a blow with wonderful accuracy. Mr. Couch says, that he has 
known the Picked Dog-fish able to pierce a finger if laid on its head, and never to miss 
its aim. When about to strike, it bends its body like a bow, and suddenly lashes out 
in the intended direction. It is a very common species, especially during the herring 
season, as it follows the shoals of those fish for the purpose of feeding on them. Even 
the tiny, quarter-grown young, not half the size of their intended prey, instinctively 
follow the herrings, though it is manifestly impossible that they should be able to 
eat them. 

The Picked Dog-fish is destructive to the fishing trade, not only on account of its 
large appetite and the number of fish it consumes, but because it cuts the hooks away 
from the lines with its sharp teeth. As, moreover, it is extremely plentiful, some twenty 
thousand having been captured at one haul of a seine net, the destruction which it causes can 
be readily imagined. Sometimes this fish assembles in large shoals, and then the fishermen 
avenge themselves of their injuries, by shooting their nets around them, and capturing 
them by boats' loads at a time. Their flesh is tolerably good, a useful oil is obtained 
plentifully from the liver, while the refuse portions are most valuable as manure, and are 
strewed in unfragrant richness over the fields, warning the nostrils at a considerable 
distance that the next year's crop is likely to be successful, and that a nearer approach is 
undesirable except to the farmer and the entomologist. 

PICKED DOG-K1SH. Acdnthias vulgaris. 

The colour of the Picked Dog-fish is slaty grey above, diversified, when young, with 
a few white spots, and the under parts are yellowish white. The skin is rough if stroked 
from the tail to the head, and smooth when rubbed in the reverse direction. The average 
length of this species is about eighteen inches. 

The GEEENLAND or NOKTHEKN SHARK (Daldtias loredlis] must receive a brief notice, 
as it is frequently mentioned in accounts of whaling voyages. 

This species is remarkable for the very small proportionate size of the fins, and for 
the manner in which the points of the teeth diverge from the centre of the jaw. It is a 
great foe to the whale and whalers, and is so heedless of danger when intent on satisfying 
its hunger, that it will follow a dead whale to the ship, mix boldly with the men who are 
engaged in cutting the blubber, thrust its head boldly among them, and at every bito 
scoop out lumps as large as a man's head. 

So deeply engaged is the creature in this interesting occupation, that even if a man 
should slip into the water from the smooth oily skin of the whale, the Greenland Sharks 
take no notice of him, but continue their depredations on the whale. Even after the long 
whaling knife has been thrust through its body, it will dart off for the moment on feeling 
the wound, but will soon return to the same spot and continue its banquet. It also feeds 
on crustaceans and small fishes. Many specimens are nearly if not wholly blinded by a 
parasitic animal technically called Lerncea elongata, some three inches in length, which 
fastens upon the corner of the eye and lives upon its fluids. 

The colour of this species is brown with a shade of deep blue. Its length, when full 
grown, is about fourteen feet. 

ANOTHER curious species of Shark, called appropriately the SPINOUS SHARK (Echi- 
norhinus spinosus), is notable for the spine-topped bony tubercles which are scattered 
over the surface 01 the body. The greater number of these spinous projections are boldly 
hooked, in a manner not unlike the thorns of the common bramble, and the points are 
directed backwards ; others, however, are quite straight and stand upright. The object of 
these curious spines is not clearly known. They are very small in proportion to the size 
of the fish, and it is said that the males are more thickly studded with them than 
the females. 

ANGEL-FISH. Sguatina vulgdris. 

The colour is dark leaden grey on the head and back as far as the first dorsal fin, the 
remainder being reddish yellow with mottlings and cloudings of purple and brown. On 
the abdomen are irregular spots of vermilion. The chin and sides, of the mouth are 
white. The average length of a full-grown specimen seems to be about seven or eight 
feet. In most, if not in all, of these creatures, the female is larger than the male, as is 
the case with the birds of prey. 

THE dark-skinned, wide-mouthed, leather-firmed and thorn-backed fish which is shown 
in the illustration, is popularly known throughout many parts of England, France, and 
Italy by the name of the ANGEL-FISH, a term singularly inappropriate except on the 
well-known principle " lucus a non lucendo," or perchance as leaving the spectator the 
option of choosing the kind of angel which the creature is thought to resemble. 

Sooth to say, it is as hideous a fish as is to be found in the waters, and from all 
accounts is as unprepossessing to the inhabitants of the sea as to those of the land, being 
voracious to a degree, and attaining a size that causes it to be a most formidable foe to 
the many fishes on which it feeds. It is also known by the name of MONK-FISH, in 
allusion to the rounded head, which was thought to bear some resemblance to the shaven 
crown of a monk ; and in some places is called the SHAKE BAY because it seems to be 
one of the connecting links between the sharks and the rays, and has many of the 
characteristics of both. On some parts of the British coasts it is known as the KINGSTON. 

It has many of the habits of the flat-fishes, keeping near the bottom, and even 
wriggling its way into the muddy sand of the sea-bed so as to conceal its entire body. 
As in the course of these movements it disturbs many soles, plaice, flounders, and other 
flat-fishes that inhabit the same localities, it snaps them up as they endeavour to escape, 
and devours great quantities of them, so that it is really a destructive fish upon a coast. 

It is most common upon the southern shores, and has there been taken of considerable 
size, attaining a weight of a hundred pounds. Unfortunately the flesh is now thought 
to be too coarse for the table, though it was formerly in some estimation, so that the 
creature is useless to the fisherman, who can only avenge himself for his losses by killing 
the destructive creature, but cannot repay himself by eating or selling it. The skin, 
however, being rough, is of some small use in the arts, beins dried and employed, like 

SAW-FISH. Pristis antiquorum. 

that of the dog-fish, for polishing joiner's work, and it is in some places manufactured 
into a sort of shagreen. 

As may be seen by the illustration, the eyes are set rather far back on the upper 
part of the head, and a little behind each eye is the temporal orifice, very large in pro- 
portion to the dimensions of the fish, very long, and set transversely on the head. 
The wide mouth, which opens in front of the head and not below as in the sharks 
is furnished with rather long and sharply pointed teeth. The colour of the upper 
parts is dark chocolate-brown mottled with a darker hue, and very rough. Along the 
back runs a row of short sharp spines, their points directed backwards, and the under 
parts are smooth and of a dull brownish white. The length of an adult specimen is 
seven or eight feet. 

WE now arrive at the Eays. The first family of these fishes is evidently intermediate 
between the sharks and the skates, and is in many respects a very interesting and 
remarkable group of fishes. The common SAW-FISH, so well known from the singular 
development of the snout, is a good example of this family. 

It has a very wide range of locality, being found in almost all the warmer seas, and 
even in the cold regions near the pole. In the illustration, a view of the head and saw 
is given in the foreground, and the general shape of the fish is shown in the partly 
submerged figure above. 

The snout of this fish is greatly prolonged, and flattened like a sword-blade. On eithei 
edge it bears a row of tooth-like projections, firmly imbedded in the bone, few, short, 
and wide apart at the base of the beak, but becoming larger and set closer together 
towards the point. The form of the sockets into which the teeth are received, and theii 


rather enlarged termination, are conspicuously indicated en the surface of the saw-blade. 
The tip of the saw is covered with hard granular scales. The number of teeth is not the 
same in every individual ; in a specimen in my possession there are twenty-eight on 
each side of the saw. 

It is said that, like the sword-fish, this creature will attack the whale, thrusting its 
armed beak into the soft blubber-covered body of the huge cetacean, and avoiding, by 
its superior agility, the strokes of the tortured animal's tail, any blow of which, "if it 
succeeded in its aim, would crush the assailant to death. The Saw-fish does certainly 
use this weapon for the destruction of fish. Captain Drayson has informed me that 
when lying off the Cape, he has more than once seen a Saw-fish come charging among 
a shoal of fishes, striking right and left with the serrated edges of the saw, and killing or 
disabling numbers of the fish by this process. 

In all the Saw- fishes the skin is covered with minute rounded or hexagonal scales, 
arranged like the stones of a mosaic. The blow-holes are very large, and are set some 
distance behind the eyes. The mouth is on the under surface of the head, and is 
furnished with a crushing apparatus, not unlike that which has already been described 
as belonging to the smooth hound dog-fish. 

The colour of the Saw-fish is dark grey above, nearly black in some individuals, the 
sides are ashen, and the abdomen white. It oftens attains a great size, measuring fifteen 
or eighteen feet in length, including the saw. 

The TENTACULATED SAW-FISH (Pristiophorus cirrdtus) is worthy of notice as forming 
a transition link between the sharks and the true Saw-fish. In this creature, the snout 
is lengthened; and armed with spines, but these structures are of different lengths, 
hooked, and only attached to the skin, and not implanted in the bone, as is the case 
with the true Saw-fish. 

IN the true Eays or Raidse, the fore part of the body is flattened and formed into a 
disc-like shape, by the conjunction of the breast fins with the snout. 

Our first example of the Rays is the TORPEDO, a fish long celebrated for its power of 
emitting at will electrical shocks of considerable intensity. In consequence of this 
property, it is sometimes called the CRAMP-FISH, CRAMP RAY, ELECTRIC RAY, or 

The object of this strange power seems to be twofold, namely, to defend itself from the 
attacks of foes, and to benumb the swift and active fish on which it feeds, and which its 
slow movements would not permit it to catch in fair chase. It does not always deliver the 
electric shock when touched, though it is generally rather prodigal of exercising its potent 
though invisible arms, but will allow itself to be touched, and even handled, without 
inflicting a shock. But if the creature be continually annoyed, the shock is sure to come 
at last, and in such cases with double violence. It has been observed, moreover, that the 
Hsh depresses its eyes just before giving its shock. 

The power of the shock varies greatly in different individuals, with some being so 
strong as to cause the recipient to fall to the ground as if shot, and with others, so feeble 
that it is hardly perceived. According to M. de Quatrefages, the fishermen are sometimes 
unpleasantly made aware that they have captured a Torpedo in their meshes, by the 
sudden shock through their arms and breast as they are hauling in their net. Anglers, 
too, are sometimes struck by means of the line which they are holding, and I presume that 
in either case the line must be wet, or it would not act as a conductor of the 
electrical fluid. 

One of these fishes was placed in a vessel of water, and a duck was forced to swim 
about in the same vessel. The Torpedo soon became excited, and in a few hours the duck 
was dead. Fish also of different kinds are killed by this remarkable influence, and it is 
plausibly suggested by one writer, that this mode of destruction would render them liable 
to rapid decomposition, and would aid the organs of digestion in a creature like the 
Torpedo, where they are but imperfectly developed. 

The shocks of this fish were once used as remedies for gout and fevers. In the first 
case, the patient had to lay his foot on the Torpedo, and bravely hold it in its place. 

EYED TORPEDO. Torpedo oculdta. 

despite of all the shocks sent by the angry fish through the sensitive limb of the aggressor ; 
and in the latter case the Torpedo was used, as it were, to frighten the fever out of the 
system. The patient was stripped, and the Torpedo placed successively to the joints, 
trunk, and extremities, so that the whole of the body and limbs were permeated in their 
turn by the electric shock. 

That the stroke of the Torpedo is veritable electricity is a fact which was once much 
disputed, but is now conclusively proved by a host of experiments. Needles have been 
magnetised by it just as if the shock had been that of a galvanic battery, the electrometer 
showed decided proofs of the nature of the fluid that had been sent through it, and even 
the electric spark has been obtained from the Torpedo very small, it is true, but still 
recognisably apparent. It is rather curious, that in the course of the -experiments it was 
discovered that the upper surface of the Torpedo corresponded with the copper plate of a 
battery, and the lower surface with the zinc plate. 

The structure of the electrical organ is far too complex to be fully described in this 
work, as it would require at least forty or fifty pages, and a large number of illustrations. 
I will, however, give a brief summary of the strange organ by which such wonderful 
results are obtained, and any of my readers who would like to examine it more in detail, 
will find ample information in an article on the subject by Dr. Coldstream, in the 
" Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology," and from a valuable series of wax models in 
the museum of the College of Surgeons. 

Briefly, then, this organ is duplex, and consists of a great number of columns, placed 
closely against each other, each inclosed in a very thin membrane. These columns are 
again built up, as it were, of flat discs, separated by a delicate membrane, which seems to 
contain, fluid. This structure may be roughly imitated by piling a number of coins upon 
each other, with a. bladder between each coin and its successor in fact, a kind of voltaic 
pile. The length of the columns, and consequently the number of discs, varies according 
to their position in the body. The columns extend quite through the creature, from the skin 
of the back to that of the abdomen, and are clearly visible on both sides, so that those of 
the middle are necessarily the longest, and those at either end become gradually shorter. 
In many large specimens, more than eleven hundred columns were counted, and the 
number of discs is on an average a hundred to the inch. It seems, from the 


researches, that the growth of this organ is produced, not by the increase of each column 
but by a continual addition to their number. A vast amount of blood-vessels pass through 
the electric organ, and it is permeated with nerves in every direction. 

How the electrical effect is produced is a very deep mystery. In fact, we know 
scarcely aught of this marvellous power, save the knowledge that it pervades all 
nature, and even in its external manifestations is one of the most ethereal and most 
potent of the second means through which the will of the Creator guides His universe. 
That the same electrical principle exists in all animals is familiarly known, and also 
that it is far more intense in some individuals than in others of the same species. 
It is known that the contact of two different kinds of flesh, such as the muscle of a 
fish and an ox, both newly killed, will produce similar effects ; and that it exists so 
largely in human beings, that no two individuals can place themselves on isolated stools, 
and join their hands, without emitting so much electricity by that slight contact, that 
the instrument will record its presence. But the origin of this wonderful power eludes 
our mental grasp like the receding waters of the mirage, and the increase of our 
knowledge serves but to betray the extent of our ignorance. 

I cannot but think that this subtle and potent emanation, which is able to strike the 
victim through an intervening space of the fluid common to both aggressor and sufferer. 
has some affinity with the still more subtle and equally mysterious influence by which 
certain of the serpent race are enabled to paralyze or attract the creatures which they could 
not secure by actual contact. It may possibly be that the electric powers of the Torpedo, 
which need water or some other conducting substance for their exercise, are, after all, 
but a more concentrated and palpable manifestation of that force, which enables the rattle- 
snake to arrest an animal not in physical contact with itself, the pointed finger to lay a 
bird motionless on its back until released by a sudden sound or touch, and one human being 
to influence his fellow without the use of words, and to attract or repel him by an 
irresistible though invisible agency. 

It is rather remarkable that even the Torpedo, gifted with such puissant arms, dealing 
pain and death around at will, should find at all events one foe insensible to the electric 
stroke, and perhaps even needing its exciting influence to preserve it in health. This is a 
parasitic creature, termed scientifically the Branchellion, which clings to the Torpedo and 
feeds upon its juices, quite indifferent to all the shocks which its victim dispenses. It 
generally measures from an inch to an inch and a half in length. 

This fish is found in the Mediterranean, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and 
occasionally off the Cape, and has now and then been captured on our coasts. Happily, 
the Torpedo does not attain a veiy great size, one of the largest specimens being about 
four feet long, and weighing sixty or seventy pounds. 

THE Eays are well represented in England by several large and curious species. One 
of the commonest examples is the THOKNBACK SKATE or RAY, so called from the large 
number of thorny projections which are scattered over its back and especially along the 
spine. This species is represented by the upper figure in the illustration. 

The Thornback is one of our common Rays, and is taken plentifully on the shores of 
England, Scotland, and Ireland. As is the case with many of the same genus, the flesh is 
considered rather good, and is eaten both when fresh and when salted for consumption 
during stormy weather. Autumn and winter are the best seasons for procuring this fish, 
as the flesh is then firm and white, while during the rest of the year it is rather liable to 
become flabby. Thornbacks taken in November are thought to be the best. 

This species, like the rest of the Rays, feeds on Crustacea, flat-fish, and molluscs, and 
as many of these creatures possess very hard shells, the Rays are furnished with a crushing 
mill of teeth, which roll on each other in such a way that even the stony shell of a crab is 
broken up under the pressure. It is notable that the teeth differ in the two sexes when 
adult. Those of the female are flat on the top, but those of the male throw out a strong 
angular projection, which is so arranged that the projections of one jaw exactly fit into 
the interstices of the other, and the roller-like arrays of teeth bear a wonderful resemblance 
to the well-known clod-crushing machine. 


COMMON SKATB.-/Jaia batte 

The young of this and other Skates are produced from eggs, whose form is familiar to 
every visitor to the seashore, where they go by the popular name of Skate-barrows. 
Their colour is black, their texture leathery, thin, and tough, and their form wonderfully 
like a common hand-barrow, the body of the barrow being represented by the middle of 
the egg, and the handles by the four projections at the angles. The empty cases are 
continually thrown on the beach, but it is seldom that the young are found inclosed, except 
after a violent storm, or when obtained by means of the dredge. 

This species is notable for certain thorny appendages to the skin, which are profusely 
sown over the back and whole upper surface, and among which stand out conspicuously a 
few very large tubercular spines, with broad, oval, bony bases, and curved, sharp-pointed 
projections. Fifteen or sixteen of these bony thorns are found on the back. Along the 
spine runs a single row of similar spines, and at the commencement of the tail it is 
accompanied by another row on either side, making that member a very formidable 
instrument of offence. In point of fact, the tail is as formidable a weapon as can be met 
with, and the manner in which this living quarter-staff is wielded adds in no slight degree 
<o its power. When angered, the Skate bends its body into a bow-like form, so that the 

STING RAY. Trytjon vcutinaca 

tail nearly touches the snout, and then, with a sudden fling, lashes out with the tail in the 
direction of the offender, never failing to inflict a most painful stroke if the blow should 
happen to take effect. 

The colour of the Thornback Skate is brown, diversified with many spots of brownish 
grey, and the under parts are pure white. 

The COMMON SKATE, sometimes called the TINKEE, is so well known that only a very 
short description is needed. 

This fish is found on all our coasts in great plenty, and sometimes attains to a really 
large size, a fine specimen having been known to weigh two hundred pounds. The 
fishermen have a custom of calling the female Skate a Maid, and the male, in consequence 
of the two elongated appendages at the base of the tail, is called the Three-Tailed Skate. 
It is a very voracious creature, eating various kinds of fish, crustaceans, arid other 
inhabitants of the deep. 

The colour of this species is greyish brown on the upper surface, and a little reddish 
brown and black-brown are found on the edges of the broad fins. Below, it is greyish 
white, over which divers darker lines are drawn, and upon which are scattered a great 
number of bluish spots with small sharp points among them. 

TEEEIBLE as is the armed tail of the thornback skate, and severe as are the wounds 
that can be inflicted by it, the STING RAY is furnished with a weapon even more to be 
dreaded, and capable of causing a still more serious injury. 

The tail itself of this species is long, flexible, whip-like and smooth, so that were it 
unaided by any additional armature, it could only inflict a sharp and stinging blow, which, 
however painful, would do no more damage than the cut of a horsewhip. As, however, 
may be seen in the illustration, the tail is further armed with a projecting bony spine, very 
sharp at the point, and furnished along both edges with sharp cutting teeth. When 
attacked or irritated, the Sting Ray suddenly strikes its whip-like tail around the offender 
in lasso fashion, and holding him tightly against the barbed spine, wields the latter with 
such strength and rapidity that it lacerates the flesh to a frightful and dangerous extont 
in some cases even causing the death of the victim. 


Along the coast, where the offensive powers of this fish are familiarly and practically 
known, an opinion prevails that the bony spine is supplied with poison. This notion, 
however, is one of the many popular errors on similar subjects, having been founded on 
the aggravated inflammation that sometimes follows the wounds caused by the Sting Eay. 
There is no poison whatever in this bone, and any such symptoms are due, not to the 
inherent venom of the weapon, but to the unsound constitution of the sufferer. 

The reader will at once perceive the exact resemblance between the spine of the Sting 
Eay and the many-barbed spears used by the savage inhabitants of the Pacific islands. 
In fact, this spine not only furnished them with the original idea of those cruel weapons, 
but is constantly taken from the fish and affixed to the shaft of a lance. In their eyes, its 
great merit and one which they imitate in their manufactured weapons is that when 
the spear is struck into the body of a foe, the jagged blade is sure to snap asunder at the 
point where it enters the body, leaving several barbs fixed in the wound without any handle 
by which they may be withdrawn. 

It is found that in the Sting Eay, a second spine exists below the first, which is provided 
in order to supply the place of the first in case it should be broken off or dragged out. 

The Sting Eay is in some places called the FIEE FLAIEE, probably on account of the 
very red colour of the flesh when cut open. This fish is not approved for the table, being 
rank and disagreeable in flavour. 

The colour of the Sting Eay is greyish yellow above, taking a slaty blue tint towards 
the middle of the body, and spotted with brown when the creature is young. Below, it it- 
white. The eyes are golden colour, the temporal orifice behind each eye is extremely 
large, and the tail is very thick and muscular at the base. The spine is set about one- 
third of its length from the base. The mouth and teeth are small. 

IN some respects, such as the long tail and double-barbed spine with which it is armed, 
the EAGLE EAY bears some resemblance to the preceding species, but may be readily 
distinguished from that fish by the projecting head, the bluntness of the snout, the very 
great length and comparative tenuity of the tail, the shortness of the spine, and the 
diminutive size of the temporal apertures. In some places this fish is called the Whip 
Eav, in allusion to the extreme length of the slender tail 


The flesh of the Eagle Eay is not eaten, being hard, rank, and disagreeable, but the 
liver is thought to be eatable, and a large quantity of good oil is obtained from it. It has 
been found on our coasts, a specimen having been taken at Berwick in 1839, but it is mostly 
found in the Mediterranean and more southern seas. It sometimes attains to a very large 
size, weighing as much as eight hundred pounds. Its colour is dark brown above, 
deepening towards the edges, and greyish white below. 

BEFORE quitting these fish entirely, a short notice must be given of several interesting 
species, of which figures cannot be inserted for want of space. 

The first is the HOENED RAY ( Cephaloptera Johnii], sometimes called, from its huge 
dimensions, horned head, dark body, and lowering aspect, the SEA DEVIL. There are, 
however, several species which are popularly called by the latter title. 

This enormous creature is found in the Mediterranean and the warmer seas in general, 
and has been taken in the nets together with the tunny. The flesh is not eaten except by 
the very poor, but the supply of oil from the liver is abundant and valuable. There 
seem to be hardly any bounds to the size which this creature will attain. M. Le Vaillant 
saw three of these huge fish sporting round the ship in lat. 10 15' N. long. 350 W. and, 
after some persuasion, induced the crew to attempt their capture. They secured the 
smallest of the three, and when it was brought on board, it was found to measure twenty- 
eight feet in width, twenty feet in length, to weigh a full ton, and to have a mouth large 
enough to swallow a man. 

This gigantic Hay feeds almost wholly on fishes and molluscs. On account of their 
horned heads, the Italian fishermen call the old ones cows and the young calves. A strong 
attachment seems to exist between the male and female, for it has more than once 
happened that when one fish has been harpooned or otherwise captured, its mate has hung 
about the boat until it shared the same fate with its deceased partner ; and in one instance, 
where the female had been caught in a tunny net, the male was seen wandering about the 
net for several days, and at last was found dead in the same partition where his mate had 
been captured. So, in common justice, the name of Sea Devil ought not to be applied 
to so loving and faithful a creature. 

The colour of the Horned Eay is very dark black-blue above, and grey-white beneath. 
The jaws and mouth are proportionately greater than is generally the case with these 
fishes. The tail is long, thin, and smooth for the first quarter of its length, after which it 
is furnished with tubercles. At its base there is a sharp, flattened spine, armed, like that of 
the preceding species, with a double row of barbs. 

THERE are several other British Eays, among which may be briefly mentioned the 
LONG-NOSED S.KATE (Baia Salviani), remarkable for the great length of the snout ; the 
FLIPPER SKATE (Eaia intermedia), notable for the olive-green colour of the upper 
surface, and the numerous white spots with which it is covered; the BORDERED EAY 
(Raia marginata), which may be known by the dark edge to the side fins, or wings as 
they are generally called, and the three rows of sharp spines on the tail ; and lastly, the 
HOMELYN EAY (Eaia miraletus), which may be distinguished by the large size of the eyes 
and temporal orifices, and the bold dark spots on the sides. 

WE now arrive at the vast order of the SPINE-FINNED FISHES, known scientifically as 
the ACANTHOPTERYGII. In all these fishes, the skeleton is entirely bony, and part of the 
rays of the dorsal, anal, and ventral fins are formed into spines, in some species very 
short, and in others of extraordinary length. 

Without devoting more time or space to the purely scientific and anatomical character- 
istics, which will be separately described at the end of the volume, we will proceed at 
once to the various species of this vast and important order. I may here mention, that, 
whenever possible, I have selected British fish as examples of the various genera, employ- 
ing only those foreign species that are needful to fill up the links of the chain, or that aw 
worthy of notice from some remarkable points in their form or their habits. 


THE first family is well represented in England by many pretty and interesting species, 
of which the two creatures figured in the engraving are familiar examples. 

The THREE-SPINED STICKLEBACK is one of our commonest British fishes, and is known 
in different parts of England under the names of TITTLEBAT, PRICKLEFISH, and SHARPLIN. 

It is a most bold and lively little fish, hardly knowing fear, pugnacious to an absurd 
degree, and remarkably interesting in its habits. Even more voracious than the perch, it 
renders great service to mankind in keeping within due bounds the many aquatic and 
terrestrial insects, which, although performing their indispensable duties in the world, are 
so extremely prolific, that they would render the country uninhabitable were they allowed 
to increase without some check. 

So voracious and fearless indeed is this little creature that it always forms the earliest 
game of the juvenile angler, who need not trouble himself in the least about the temper 
of his hooks, the fineness of his tackle, or the delicate balance of his float. Any one can 
catch a Stickleback without rod, float, or even hook. All that is needful is to repair to 

TEN-SPINED STICKLEBACK. -Gaitertstau pungitius. THREE-SPINED STICKLEBACK. -Gasterosteus acute 

the nearest streamlet, armed with a yard or two of thread and a walking-stick Thin 

twine will answer very well instead of the thread, and even the stick is not absolutelv 

eded. Having proceeded thus equipped to the bank of the stream, a worm may be 

eked out of the ground, tied by the middle to the thread and thrown quite at random 

into the water. 

The Sticklebacks will not be in the least frightened by the splash, but rather rejoice 

it as calling their attention to food. In a moment the worm will be the centre of a 

:endmg mass of little fishes, rolling over and over, struggling to the utmost of their 

STS f f ^ 7 , * the W0im 1 from si s ht Now let the an s ler qri<&iy lift the 

mLrpH t fV*5 S r ng V n Sh re ' and he W1U almost certainl y fi* d that ^ has 
. two Sticklebacks, one hanging to each end of the worm, and retaining its hold 

be S2S? 7 l Can , 5 7 1 Q - i^f 6d t0 relin( l uish its g ri Pe. This process may 

repeated at pleasure, and as the Sticklebacks never seem to learn wisdom, alar^e store 

STlES f% aC , CUmUlated ; s is a g od wa ? of stocking an aquarium, as the strongest 
act liveliest fish are sure to be caught first. 

I have caught them by hundreds in a common butterfly-net, by the simple stratagem 
"?? ^ ^ ^ - the Water ' t* ^ ^e worm over the ring, and by de^eS 
the worm and raising the net until I had the whole flock within the meshes! 


Should the reader be disposed to place his newly captured specimens in an aquarium, 
he must make Tip his mind that they will fight desperately at first, and until they have 
satisfactorily settled the championship of the tank their intercourse will be of the most 
aggressive character. Never were such creatures to fight as the Sticklebacks, for they will 
even go out of their way to attack anything which they think may possibly offend them, 
and they have no more hesitation in charging at a human being than at one of their own 
species. I have known one of these belligerent fish make repeated dashes at my walking 
stick, knocking his nose so hard against his inanimate antagonist that he inflicted a 
perceptible jar upon it, and in spite of the blows which his nose must have suffered, 
returning to the combat time after time with undiminished spirit. 

These combats are, however, most common about the breeding season, when every 
adult Stickleback challenges every other of his own sex, and they do little but fight from 
morning to evening. They are as jealous as they are courageous, and will not allow 
another fish to pass within a certain distance of their home without darting out and 
offering battle. 

Any one may see these spirited little combats by quietly watching the inhabitants of 
a clear streamlet on a summer day. The two antagonists dart at each other with spears in 
rest, snap at each other's gills or head, and retain their grasp with the tenacity of a bull- 
dog. They whirl round and round in the water, they drop, feint, attack, and retreat, with 
astonishing quickness, until one confesses itself beaten, and makes off for shelter, the 
conqueror snapping at its tail, and inflicting a parting bite. 

Then is the time to see the triumphant little creature in all the glory of his radiant 
apparel ; for with his conquest he assumes the victor's crown : his back glows with 
shining green, his sides and head are glorious with gold and scarlet, and his belly is 
silvery white. It is a little creature certainly, but even among the brilliant inhabitants 
of the southern seas, a more gorgeously coloured fish can hardly be found. If the 
conqueror Stickleback could only be enlarged to the size of a full-grown perch or roach, it 
would excite the greatest admiration. It is curious, that the vanquished antagonist loses 
in brilliance as much as the conqueror has gained ; he sneaks off ignominiously after his 
defeat, and hides himself, dull and sombre, until the time comes when he, too, may 
conquer in fight, and proudly wear the gold and scarlet insignia of victory. 

These struggles are not only for mastery, but are in so far praiseworthy, that they are 
waged in defence of home and family. 

The Stickleback is one of the very few fish who build houses for their young, as a 
defence against the many foes which are ever lying in wait for the destruction of the eggs 
or the newly hatched young. These nests are built of various vegetable substances, and 
their structure is admirably described in the following passage extracted from an 
educational magazine of 1 834, and quoted by Mr. Couch in his valuable history of the 
British fish : 

" In a large dock for shipping on the river Thames, thousands of Pricklefish were bred 
some years ago, and I have often amused myself for hours by observing them. While 
multitudes have been enjoying themselves near the shore in the warm sunshine, others 
have been busily engaged making their nests, if a nest it can be called. It consisted of 
the very minutest pieces of straw or sticks, the exact colour of the ground at the bottom 
of the water on which it was laid, so that it was next to an impossibility for any one to 
discover the nest, unless they saw the fish at work, or observed the eggs. 

The nest is somewhat larger than a shilling, and has a top or cover, with a hole in the 
centre, about the size of a very small nut, in which are deposited the eggs or spawn. 
This opening is frequently concealed by drawing small fragments over it, but this is not 
always the case. Many times have I taken up the nest, and thrown the eggs to the 
multitude around, which they instantly devoured with the greatest voracity. These eggs 
are about the size of poppy seeds, and of a bright yellow colour ; but I have at times seen 
them almost black, which, I suppose, is an indication that they are approaching to life. 

In making the nest, I observed that the fish used an unusual degree of force when 
conveying the material to its destination. When the fish was about an inch from the 
nest, it suddenly darted at the spot, and left the tiny fragment in its place, after which it 


would be engaged for half a minute in adjusting it. The nest, when taken up, did not 
separate, but hung together like a piece of wool." 

This interesting little account is, as Mr. Couch remarks, doubly valuable, as not being 
the work of a professed naturalist, but of an observant lover of nature, who saw some 
curious phenomena, and recorded them in simple and unpretending language. The 
fi t'teen-spined Stickleback, a marine species, also makes a nest, though hardly of so careful 
a construction. 

The Three-spined Stickleback is very fond of inhabiting the mouths of rivers where 
they empty themselves into the sea, the brackish water appearing to suit its constitution. 
It can therefore be easily acclimatized to new conditions, and a specimen that has been 
taken from an inland stream can soon be brought to inhabiting the water of a marine 
aquarium, though such water is usually, in consequence of evaporation, more salt than 
that of the sea. 

As a general fact, the flesh of the Stickleback is despised as an article of food, and 
in my opinion wrongly so. I have often partaken of these little fish fried, or even 
baked, and think them decidedly palatable delicate, crisp, and well-flavoured, with the 
slightest possible dash of bitter that gives a unique piquancy to the dish. At all events, 
the young of the Stickleback and the minnow frequently do duty as whitebait, and the ' 
guests never discover the deception. Yet there is hardly any place in England where 
even the starving poor will condescend to eat this delicate and nutritious little fish, which 
can be scooped by thousands out of any streamlet, and does not require more trouble in 
cooking than the red herring. The only use that at present seems to be made of this 
fish is to spread it over the ground as manure, an office which it certainly fulfils admirably, 
but might, in all probability, be better employed in feeding man than manuring his fields. 
An oil is sometimes expressed from them, and the refuse carted off to the fields, but the 
value of the oil seems hardly to repay the trouble of procuring it. 

Mr. Yarrell mentions a considerable number of British Sticklebacks ; but Dr. Giinther, 
in his elaborate catalogue of Acanthopterygian fishes in the British Museum, comprises 
several species together, as only varieties and not different species. For example, the 
known by its four or five scaly plates above the pectoral fin ; the HALF-AEMED 
STICKLEBACK (Gasterosteus semiarmatus), where the plates extend throughout half the 
length of the body ; the HALF-MAILED STICKLEBACK ( Gasterosteus semiloricatus], where 
they extend still farther; and the NEW YORK STICKLEBACK ( Gasterosteus Noveboracencis), 
are all considered as being only varieties of the species which lias just been denoted. 

THE left-hand figure on page 223 represents the TEN-SPINED STICKLEBACK. This fish 
is nearly, if not quite, as plentiful as the three-spined species, and is perhaps the smallest 
of our river-fish. 

It may be readily distinguished by the nine or ten spines upon the back, all 
in front of the dorsal fin, and by the absence of plates upon the sides. All the Stickle- 
backs are voracious little creatures, and I am told by an angler friend that they destroy 
quantities of the spawn of other fish, and seize upon the young as soon as they are 
hatched. He also informs me that they are extremely capricious in their choice of 
locality. For example, at the head of a mill-stream they may be found by thousands, 
while at the tail of the same stream not a single Stickleback can be found. There is 
a still part of the New Eiver, where they are so plentiful that the roach fisher is entirely 
baffled in his sport by these little creatures eating his bait before it sinks to its full 
depth, and yet the middle of the stream is quite free from them. 

The Ten-spined Stickleback does not like salt water, and cannot be acclimatized to 
the marine aquarium like its three-spined relative. All the Sticklebacks are remarkable 
for the comparative nakedness of the skin, which for the most part bears no scales, as 
in the generality of fish, and in the Ten-spined species is wholly naked. The place of 
the scales is supplied by certain bony or scaly plates upon the side, and it is the 
nakedness of the skin which permits the colours of these little fish to glow with Sfch 

o right and changeful hues. 



The colour of this species is green upon the back, and on the abdomen and sides 
silvery white spotted minutely with black. The fins are very slightly tinged with 
yellow. The length of the Ten-spined Stickleback is variable, but rarely exceeds two 

species, and is common on all our coasts. 

It is remarkably elongated in proportion to its width, and this formation, together 
with its armature of sharp tooth-like spines, has gained it the name of Sea-Adder. It 
is a voracious creature, feeding on all sorts of marine animals, molluscs, worms, eggs, 
and fry, and minute crustaceans. Mr. Yarrell advises the collector of marine crustaceans 
to examine carefully the stomachs of the shore-frequenting fishes, and especially of 
this species, as he will be likely to discover some curious species of those animals, too 
Active or too small to lodge in his net, but unable to avoid the quick eye and ready jaws 


of the Stickleback. The same writer mentions that on one occasion, when a 1'ii'teen- 
spined Stickleback had been caught with a net and placed in water together with a small 
eel, three inches in length, the voracious creature seized on the eel in a very short time, 
and contrived to swallow it. The eel, however, was too long to be wholly accommo- 
dated in the stomach of the Stickleback, and after a while was disgorged, only partly 

This, as well as the other species, is of very changeful colouring, its tints altering 
according to the circumstances of the moment. As in the case of the frog, already 
alluded to when treating of that creature, the colour of the Stickleback varies with 
singular rapidity, being dull or bright according to the mental emotions of the individual. 
The specimen above mentioned was so alarmed when captured, that it changed from its 
former brilliant tints to pale yellow and brown, remained in that state for eighteen hours, 
and then suddenly regained its former brightness. 

The Fifteeu-spined Stickleback makes a nest for its eggs, and watches it as faith- 
fully as the preceding species. The materials are composed of bits of the delicate green 
or purple seaweeds, woven among the branches of growing corallines, and bound 
together with a kind of thread of animal matter, so as to form a pear-shaped mass, 
about as large as the closed fist. The eggs, which are very large, and of a light amber 
colour, are not lodged in a hollow within this nest, but distributed in little packets 
throughout the mass. Mr. Couch gives the following curious account of a nest of the 

JAPANESE SIXGLETHORN. Monoce.ntris Japonicus. 

Fifteen- spined Stickleback, made in the end of an old rope : " A singular instance of 
constructive skill and patience in the formation of its nest, which occurred within my 
knowledge, is deserving of remembrance. The situation selected was the loose end of 
a rope, from which the separated strands hung out about a yard from the surface, over 
a depth of four or live fathoms, and to which the materials could only have been brought, 
of course, in the mouth of the fish, from the distance of about thirty feet. 

They were formed of the usual aggregation of the finer sorts of green and red seaweed, 
but they were so matted together in the hollow formed by the untwisted strands of the 
rope, that the mass constituted an oblong ball of nearly the size of the fist, in which had 
been deposited the scattered assemblages of spawn, and which was bound into shape with 
the thread of animal substance already described, and which was passed through and 
through in various directions, while the rope itself formed an outside covering tc 
the whole. 

We can scarcely suppose that such A nest can have been the work of more than a couple 
of fishes, but the grains of spawn had grown to almost the size of radish -seeds, and in 
collective bulk seemed greatly disproportionate to the size of the parent, and only to be 
explained by the well-known fact, that the ova of fishes generally obtains an increase of 
bulk by the absorption of water after exclusion ; which fluid may be supposed to exert 
considerable influence on the further development of the young. The embryo of this fish, 
as is believed to be the case with many others, is not found to bear a close resemblance to 
the parent, and in fact may be said to pass through a decided metamorphosis in the course* 
of its final development." 

The jaws of this species are much elongated, and the under jaw protrudes well beyond 
the upper. Along the back runs a row of fifteen spines, short, sharp, slightly hooked 
backwards, and each with a very slight membrane. Along the lateral line runs a series of 
keeled scales, and on the abdomen are two bony plates, bearing on their inner edges two 
sharp spines of unequal length. If the body be severed at the centre, the line of section 
will be nearly a pentagon. The upper part of the head, body, and tail is olive-green, taking 
a golden tint on the sides. The rest of the body is silvery white. The length of this fish 
varies from five to seven inches. 



WE now arrive at another family of fishes, in which the body is rather compressed 
i.e. flattened sideways the eyes are large, and the mouth oblique. It is scientifically 
known by the name of Berycidoe, and all its members are inhabitants of the tropical and 
temperate seas. 

Our first example of this family is the JAPANESE SINGLETHORN. 

In all the fishes of this genus, the scales are rather large, very strong, and so closely 
compacted together that they form a strong mailed covering to the body. The name of 
Monocentris or Singlethorn is derived from the curious modification of the ventral fins, 
which are devoid of membrane, and are reduced to a single very strong and rather 
lengthened spine, and a few very short rays. In the place of the dorsal fin are four or five 
thick spines, and the shield-like scales of the body are rough, projecting, and keeled. 

The Japanese Singlethorn is an inhabitant, as its name imports, of the seas of Japan, 
and is almost, if not quite, the only species of its genus. It is chiefly remarkable for the 
size of its head, the strong thorn-like spines, and the mailed suit of hard and projecting 
scales. It is of a tolerably uniform colour, its whole body being silvery white, and its 
length is about six or seven inches. 

THE large-eyed and deep-bodied fish which is shown in the illustration, derives its 
name of HOPLOSTETHUS, or Armed-breast, from the strong and sharp spines which are 
placed on the scapular bone and the angle of the prseoperculum. Like the last-mentioned 
species, it seems to be the only member of its genus. 

This fish is found in the Mediterranean, and is not uncommon on the coast of Madeira. 
It is remarkable not only for the offensive weapons with which it is armed, but for the 
large, full eye, the saw-like series of notches on the abdomen, and the beautiful rosy hue 
of its -scales. The dorsal fin of this fish is single, but is composed of two distinct portions, 
the one being supported by strong spinous rays, and the other by soft and flexible rays. 
The muzzle is very short, rounded, and does not protrude ; the tail is deeply forked, and 
the serrated portion of the abdomen consists of eleven, twelve, or thirteen scales. The body 
is very deep in proportion to its length. 


BEFORE proceeding to the next family, we must casually notice two large genera 
belonging to this family. Of the first genus, the MURDJAN PERCH (Myripristis murdjari) 
is a good example. 

This handsome fish is found off' the coasts of India and in the Red Sea, and can be 
easily recognised by its beautiful colouring, its large scales, short muzzle, and prominent 
chin. The general colour of this splendid fish is bright rose-pink, beautifully mottled by 
a rich violet edge to each scale. The soft portions of the dorsal, ventral, and anal fins are 
boldly margined with white, and the front rays have a cross band of violet-brown. The 
tail fin is edged with white, and a longitudinal stripe of violet- brown traverses each lobe. 
About fourteen or fifteen species of this genus are known. 

OF the next genus, the SCARLET PERCH (Holocentrum rubrum) is rather a striking 

This fine fish inhabits the Asiatic seas, and there are specimens in the British Museum 
from the Red Sea, Amboyna, Louisiade Archipelago, the Philippines, Japan, and China. 
On the operculum are two strong spines, the upper being the larger. The colour of this 
fish is shining red, diversified with eight bands of greyish white. The outer edges of the 
tail fin are black, and there is a patch of the same colour on the ventral fins. This genus 
contains many very handsome species, and in almost every case the prevailing colours are 
red and violet. 

WE now come to the large and important family of the Perches, which comprises many 
of the handsomest and most valuable fishes. The members of this family are found in all 
parts of the globe. 

PERCH. Pfrcn Jluviatilis. 

The COMMON PERCH is well known as one of our handsomest river-fish, and, on 
account of its boldness and the voracious manner in which it takes the bait, and the active 
strength with which it struggles against its captor, is a great favourite with many anglers. 

Moreover, when captured, and placed in an aquarium, it very soon learns to distinguish 
the hand that feeds it, and will come to the surface and take food from the fingers. It 
has a fashion of seizing its food with a rather sharp jerk, and then snatches it away with 
such violence, that when it takes the hook, it will drag a stout cork float several inches 
below the surface, and, by the force of its own stroke, will mostly hook itself without any 
exertion on the part of the angler. Bold-biting, however, as is its reputation, there are 


some seasons of the year when it is almost impossible to catch a Perch, and even the shy 
and gently nibbling roach is an easier prey. 

The Perch is a very hardy fish, living for a long time when removed from the water, in 
consequence of the structure of the gill-cover, which prevents the delicate membranes ol 
the branchiae from becoming dry. It will, in consequence, endure being transported over 
considerable distances, if it be only watered occasionally, a capacity which enables the 
proprietor of a fish-pond to stock it without difficulty. In some countries, where fish is a 
common article of food, and enforced on certain days by ecclesiastical law, these fish are 
kept in ponds, caught in nets, put into baskets with grass which is always kept wet, and 
taken to the markets, where they remain through the day, and if not sold, are carried back 
to their pond in the evening and replaced. 

It does not seem to be a cold-enduring fish, however hardy it may be in other respects ; 
and though it is plentiful in almost every lake and river of England and Wales, it is hardly 
to be found in the waters north of the Tweed. All the temperate parts of Europe possess 
this well-known species. 

The Perch is a truly voracious fish, feeding upon all kinds of aquatic worms, insects, 
and fishes, preferring the latter diet as it becomes older and larger. The smaller fish, such 
as minnows, young roach, dace, and gudgeons, are terribly persecuted by the Perch, and a 
bait formed of either of these fish, or a good imitation of them, will generally allure the 
finest Perches to the hook. Although generally inhabiting mid or deep water, it will 
sometimes come to the surface to snap up a casual fly that has fallen into the water, and 
on several occasions has been captured by anglers when fishing with a fly for trout. 

Practical fishermen say that the Perch is almost the only fish which the pike does not 
venture to attack, and that if a pike should make one of its rushing onslaughts on a Perch, 
the intended prey boldly faces the enemy, erects the dorsal fin with its array of formidable 
spines, and thus baffles the ever-hungry aggressor. Still, it is an article of faith with some 
anglers, that a young Perch from which the dorsal fin has been removed is one of the 
surest baits for pike. Perhaps they think that the pike is so delighted to find a Perch 
unarmed, that it seizes the opportunity to feed upon a luxury which it can seldom obtain. 

The Perch is not often seen in the middle of a stream, preferring to haunt the banks, 
and from under their shadow to watch the little fish and other creatures on which it feeds. 
This habit is common to many, if not to most of the carnivorous river-fishes, the pike and 
trout being also bank lovers, and having special retreats whither they betake themselves, 
and which they will not suffer any other fish to approach. Deep holes by the bank are 
favourite resorts of the Perch, and on a fine day, when the water is clear, it is often possible 
to see them in their home, swimming gently to and fro, and never stirring from the 
narrow limits of the hole in which they reside. 

By careful management, it will sometimes be possible to capture every member of 
the party, for if the bait be quietly let down among them, and each Perch when hooked 
drawn smartly out of the water, the survivors seem to care nothing about the sudden exit 
of their companion, and successively fall victims to the same fate. It is, however, as a 
rule, unsafe to let one fish get off the hook, as these creatures, though mute to human 
ears, have their own silent speech, and are able to communicate ideas among themselves. 

The eye of a Perch is said to be an almost irresistible bait for these fish, and the 
sufferer has even been known to break away from the hook, to w ~'ch one of its eyes clung, 
and to be again captured by biting at its own eye. 

The flesh of the Perch is white, firm, well flavoured, and is thought to be both delicate 
and nutritious. 

The Perch is not a large fish, from two to three pounds being considered rather a heavy 
weight. Individuals, however, of much greater dimensions have been, though rarely, 
captured. One of the finest Perches ever taken in England, was captured in the river 
Avon, in Wiltshire, by a night-line baited with a roach ; its weight was eight pounds 
Specimens of five or six pounds are occasionally taken, but are thought so valuable, that 
the captor generally sends the account of his success to some journal. 

The colour of the Perch is rich greenish brown above, passing gradually into golden 
white below. Upon the sides is a row of dark transverse bands, generally from five to 


seven in number. The first dorsal fin is brown, with a little black between two or three 
of the first and last rays ; the second dorsal and the pectoral are pale brown, and the tail 
and other fins are bright red. 

THE fine fish so well known under the name of BASSE, or SEA-DACE, or SEA-PERCH, is 
common on many of our coasts, and is considered by anglers as affording "good sport. 

It seems, from the accounts of practical sportsmen, to bite with readiness at a bait, 
but to be a difficult fish to secure, on account of its tender mouth, its ingenious stratagems, 
and its great strength. When hooked, it leaps, plunges, arid swims with such force and 
swiftness, that the captor is forced to exercise the greatest skill in preventing it from 
breaking away. One of its favourite ruses is to double back under the boat, in hopes of 
cutting the line against the keel, or gaining a fixed point by which it may be able to drag 
the hook from its mouth. 

Even when fairly tired out, and drawn to the edge of the boat, it is by no means 
secured, for its scales are so hard that a very sharp blow of the gaff is needed to fix the 
hook in its side, and its gills and fins are so formidably armed, that it cannot be grasped 

BASSE. Labrax lupu*. 

with impunity. The spines of the dorsal fin, in particular, are strong and sharp as packing- 
needles, and the various portions of the operculurn are edged with projecting teeth that 
cut like lancets. Many are the wounds that have been inflicted by the sudden twist and 
wriggle of the Basse, when grasped in a careless manner. When lifted into the boat, the 
hook is not to be taken from the mouth without some risk, as may be imagined on 
reference to the illustration. 

It is a voracious fish, and derives its name of " lupus," or wolf, in consequence of its 
insatiate appetite. It feeds upon other fish and various inhabitants of the sea. Mr. Couch 
states that it is very fond of woodlice, and is bold enough to venture among rocks in u 
tempest for the sake of snapping up these creatures, as they are washed by the waves and 
beaten by the winds from their places of concealment among the stones. 

The flesh of the Basse is very excellent, and is thought to be in best condition when 
the fish is small, measuring about eighteen inches in length. The colour of this fish is 
dark dusky blue on the back, and silvery white on the abdomen ; the fins are brown. 11 
sometimes attains a very large size, having been known to weigh upwards of twenty 
pounds. It seldom, however, reaches such extreme dimensions, and a specimen of fifteen 
pounds' weight is thought to be a remarkably fine one. 

GIANT PERCH. Lucioperca Raihtr 

THE pretty little EUFFE (Acerina c&rnud) is common in many English rivers, where it 
is sometimes known under the name of POPE, the reason for the latter title not being 
very clear. 

In general appearance the Euffe bears some resemblance to the perch, the shape of its 
body and the thorny fins being not unlike those of that handsome fish. It may, however, 
be immediately distinguished from the perch by its spotted fins, and the absence of the 
dark baud over the sides. Moreover, the dorsal fin is single. It is a tolerably bold 
biter, and takes a hook readily when baited with a little bright-red worm. 

The colour of the Euffe is light olive-brown above, and silver-white on the abdomen ; 
the flanks are yellowish brown. The back, dorsal fin, and tail, are covered with little 
brown spots, set so closely in the tail as to resemble bars, and upon the gill-covers there 
is a little pearly green. The length of this fish seldom exceeds six or seven inches. 

A REMAEKABLY fine fish, called the GIANT PEECH, is found in many of the rivers and 
lakes of Germany and Eastern Europe. 

This handsome species derives its name of Lucioperca, or Pike-Perch, from the 
resemblance which it bears to both these fishes, having the lengthened body of the one, 
and the spine-armed fins of the other. It has, however, nothing to do with the pike, and 
is closely allied to the perch, belonging, indeed, to the same family. The teeth are rather 
large, and are thought to resemble those of the pike in length and sharpness. 

The colour of the Giant Perch is greenish olive above, banded with brown. Below, it 
is white. It is a very fine fish, attaining, when full-grown, to a length of three or four 
feet. There are several species belonging to the same genus. 

A VEEY handsome fish, that is popularly but erroneously called the AMERICAN PIKE, 
has derived its name from the elongated and somewhat pike-like form of its body. The 
teeth, however, are even, and bear no resemblance to those of the real pike. 

The flesh of this fish is thought to be good for the table, and as the dimensions to 
which the creature attains are often considerable, it is really one of the valuable 
inhabitants of the American waters. It is one of the sea-loving species, and is mostly 


found on the Atlantic shores of tropical America. Many specimens are in the British 
Museum, some of which were taken in the West Indies, others off the coast of Guiana, 
some from Bahia, and others from Surinam. The general colour of the American Pike 
is silvery white, tinged on the back with green, and becoming a pure shining white on 

AMERICAN PIKE.- Centrop6*nus undccimalis. 

the abdomen. The dorsal fins are two in number, the first being shortish, and having 
eight very strong and sharp spines. The second spine of the anal fin is very long and 
sharp, and the preeoperculum is armed with two sharply toothed edges. 

THE well-known BLACK BASSE of America (Centropristis atrarius) inhabits the rivers 
and lakes of North America. 

This fine fish is a really valuable species, on account of its large dimensions and the 
excellence of its flesh, and the attention of scientific men has lately been turned towards 
its preservation. In the Patent Reports of 1859 upon some Black Basse that were 
transferred to Waramang Lake, Connecticut, in 1853, it is said that they multiplied very 
rapidly, grew at the average rate of one pound per annum, and ordinarily attained a 
weight of five pounds or a little more. They are very hardy, and can be taken from one 
locality to another if placed in a tub of water covered with a wet canvas. So rapid, 
indeed, is its increase, that although less than a hundred were originally placed in the 
lake, they have probably increased to several millions in a space of seven years. 

It is a marvellously bold-biting fish, and affords good sport to all anglers, whether 
they only fish for the sake of the amusement, using a fly or other delicate bait, or whether 
they merely seek to take their prey as a matter of business, and employ small fish as a 
bait, or the obstruction " spoon," whose treacherous glitter the Black Basse is seldom able to 
withstand. It is an active and powerful fish, and when hooked struggles so long and so 
fiercely, that it tests all the angler's skill before it can be safely landed. 

The colour of the Black Basse is brown, washed with golden green, and mottled with 
dark spots on the centre of each scale, darker on the back, and becoming nearly white on 
the abdomen. When newly caught, the body is traversed with several dark bands. It 
is a very fine fish, specimens having been known to weigh nearly twenty pounds. 

CLOSELY allied to these fish is an enormous genus, containing about one hundred and 
forty known species, from which the OUATALIBI, or RUDDY SEREANUS (Serrdnus ouatalibi), 
is selected as an example. 

9TONE BASSE. Pnlyprion cernium. 

This beautiful fish inhabits the warm Caribbean sea, and is plentiful upon the West 
Indian coasts. Its colour is bright red, and the head, body, and sometimes the dorsal fin, 
are profusely powdered with small blue spots, edged with black. Just by the joint of the 
lower jaw there is a pair of largish black spots, and on the back of the tail, immediately 
behind the dorsal fin, is another black spot. Of its habits nothing interesting is told. 

The STONE BASSE is an inhabitant of the British seas. It is otherwise known 
as COUCH'S POLYPEION, in honour of the eminent naturalist who first made it known as a 
British species, and as JEW-FISH and WKECK-FISH the last title being given to it on 
account of its habit of frequenting drifting timbers, apparently for the purpose of feeding 
upon the various marine creatures that swarm about such localities. In Madeira it is 
called CHEENE, when full grown, and CHEENOTIE when young. 

Barnacle-laden timber seems to have great attractions for the Stone Basse, and it is 
mentioned by Mr. Yarrell that a becalmed vessel was surrounded for a fortnight with 
these fish, probably on account of the trailing barnacles with which her planking was 
covered. Their presence was most valuable, as they were caught in great numbers, and 
the men fed almost wholly upon them for twelve or fourteen days. 

From examination of the stomach, the Stone Basse seems to feed mostly on small fish 
of various kinds, sardines having been found in its interior in large quantities. Molluscs 
also form part of its food. It lives mostly in the deeper waters, preferring a rocky 
bottom, and generally remaining deeply immersed, unless attracted to the surface by the 
presence of i!s food. 



When following tloating timbers, it is a remarkably bold fish. Mr. Couch remarks thus 
upon its habits : " When a piece of timber, covered with barnacles, is brought by the 
currents from the more southern regions which these fishes inhabit, considerable numbers 
of them sometimes accompany it. In the alacrity of their exertions, they pass over the 
wreck in pursuit of each other, and sometimes for a short space are left dry on the top, 
until a succeeding wave bears them off again. From the circumstance of their being 
usually found near floating wood covered with barnacles, it might be supposed that this 
shell-fish forms their food ; but this does not appear to be the case, since, in many that 
were opened, nothing was found but small fishes. Perhaps the young fishes follow the 
floating wood for the sake of the insects that accompany it, and thus draw the Stone 
Basse after them." 

'The colour of the Stone Basse is dark purple-brown above, and silvery white below. 
The fin-membranes are brown, and the tail is tipped with white. When young, it is 
mottled with darker and lighter brown. The lower jaw is larger than the upper, and 
over the operculum runs horizontally a bold bony ridge, ending in a sharp point 
directed backwards. There is also a row of short sharp spines over the eye, and the 
first ray of the ventral fins and the first three rays of the anal fin are furnished with 
strong thorny spines, so that the fish is armed at all points, and when struggling violently 
is likely to inflict rather severe wounds on the hand that grasps it incautiously. 

PASSING by many large genera, which 
cannot be noticed for lack of space, we 
come to a very odd-looking fish, called 
perforce, for want of a popular title,, the 
OREOSOMA, a name framed from two Greek 
words, and literally signifying hilly-bodied. 
As the reader may see by reference to the 
engraving, the name is very appropriate. 
The upper figure shows its aspect from 

This remarkable little fish was captured 
in the Atlantic by Peron, and has ever 
been esteemed as one of the curiosities of 
the animal kingdom. Upon the body there 
are no true scales, but their place is sup- 
plied by a number of bony or horny pro- 
tuberances, of a conical shape, and serving- 
no ascertained purpose. These cones may 
be divided into two distinct sets, the 
larger set being arranged in two ranks, 
four on the back and ten on the abdomen, 
and among them are placed the smaller 
set. The body of this fish is very deep 
in proportion to its length, and the oper- 
culum has two ridges, terminating in flat- 
tened angles. There are two dorsal fins, 
the first armed with five spines. 

BEFOEE leaving this family we must briefly examine another very large genus, here 
represented by the BANDED MULLET (Apogonfascidtus). 

This fish is found off the Feejee Islands, upon the coast of Mozambique, and in the 
Australian and Mpluccan seas. The genus to which it belongs comprises about sixty 
species, all inhabiting the warmer waters, and some entering the mouths of rivers. They 
are most plentiful in the Indian and Australian seas, but are never seen in the colder 
waters of the northern and southern regions. The scales of these fish are large, and fall 
fir almost at a touch. The gill-cover is rather formidably armed, the operculum bearing 
spines, and the procoperculitm having a double-notched ridge. 

OREOSOMA. Oreosdma Atlantic^.. 



The colouring of the Banded Mullet is bold and striking. The general tint of the 
body is a glowing rose, and a series of broad dark bands are drawn along the body, 
four or five on each side, and one on the back. At the base of the tail fin is a large 
round black spot, and a black band runs across the root of the second dorsal and 
anal fins. 

THE next family, termed the Pristipomidae, after the typical genus, forms a large 
and somewhat important group of fishes. They are all carnivorous, i.e. they feed upon 
fish in preference to other diet ; they have no molar or cutting teeth, and all inhabit 
the waters of the warm and temperate regions of the globe. The greater number of the 
species are marine, but a few are found in the rivers. 

As an example of the typical genus, we will take the KAKAAN (Pristipoma hasta), 
a species found in the " Red Sea, along the east coast of Africa, through all the Indian 
seas to Hie northern shores of Australia." 

In this prettily marked species, the dorsal fins are separated by a notch, rather 
variable in depth, and the fourth dorsal spine is much elongated, being indeed equal 
to half the length of the head. The second spine of the anal fin is also long and sharp. 
The colouring of the Kakaan is seldom precisely the same in any two individuals, but 
the body is always covered with a great number of brown spots, arranged with some 
degree of regularity. Sometimes these spots fall into horizontal lines, so as to look at a 
little distance like a series of brown bars drawn along the body, while in other specimens 
the spots are gathered into vertical bands. There are also several series of circular brown 
soots on both the dorsal fins. 


CAPEUNA. Hc&mulon qvadrttineatu'ni.. 

The CAPEUNA, or FOUR-STREAKED RED-THROAT, is a remarkably pretty fish, and a 
good example of the genus to which it belongs. 

The generic title of Hajmulon is given to these fishes on account of the bright ruddy 
colour of that part of the lower jaw which is concealed when the jaws are shut The 
French call this genus Rougegueule. The profile of their rather elongated head is thought 
to bear some resemblance to that of a pig. The Capeuna is most beautifully coloured, 
as will be seen when the description is compared with the figure. The spines of the 
dorsal fins are tolerably firm, but cannot be termed strong or formidable, and the same 
may be said of the lengthened second spine of the anal fin. The eye is large and full, 
and the tail is deeply forked. A rich brown band runs along the whole of the body just 
above the dorsal line, and a corresponding band is drawn immediately below it. Between 
the upper band and the spinous portion of the dorsal fin, a short brown streak is drawn, 


looking as if dashed hastily with one sweep of a brush, and a still shorter stripe of the 
same colour runs along each side of the head just above the eye. From the eyes are 
drawn two wider stripes of rich golden yellow, which pass beneath the lateral line, and 
run to a considerable distance, the lower streak being continued as far as the tail fin, and 
the upper reaching to the middle of the soft portion of the dorsal fin, where it turns 
slightly upwards. 

IN the fish represented in the accompanying illustration, the reader may see one of 
those remarkably coloured species for which the warmer seas are so famous, and whose 
vivid colouring and striking forms put to shame the comparatively sober inhabitants ol 
the northern waters. 

What connexion there may be between colours and caloric is one of the unsolved 
enigmas of creation, and though it is most evident that such a connexion exists, its 
principles and even its results are at present shrouded in mystery. 

CUVIEB'S BODIAN. Piagramma linedtum. 

The tints which decorate the finny inhabitants of these tepid waters are brilliant beyond 
all power of description, and the most glowing colours of the artist, though painted on 
a ground of burnished gold, fail to convey more than a dim idea of the wondrous chromatic 
effects produced by the living creatures. Even the patterns in which these colours are 
arranged are as unexpected as they are effective, and the art student would gain no slight 
knowledge of that most difficult science of colour, were he to visit the tropical seas, and 
study the fishes as they swim calmly in the crystalline water, amid the forests of waving 
seaweeds or branching corals. 

The harmony of the tints is not less remarkable than their brilliancy, for the brightest 
and most glowing colours are flung boldly together in kaleidoscopic profusion, and in 
defiance of all the conventional rules by which artists like to govern themselves and others, 
are so exquisitsly harmonious that not a tint could be altered or removed without destroying 
the entire chromatic effect. Examples of some of these fish will be given in the course of 
the succeeding pages, and the reader will see that, even when labouring under the 
disadvantage of substituting plain black and white for their natural colours, they must be 
truly the humming-birds of the ocean. 

The GUTTER'S BODIAN is a species spread over the greater part of the Indian seas, and 
caught, though it appears but rarely, on the coasts of Ceylon, being most frequently 



captured on the southern shores and upon rocky ground. The Cingalese name is 
Deweeboraloowah. In colour it is a remarkably handsome fish, though not of such pure 
primary tints as others which will presently be mentioned. The colour of this fish is 
yellowish brown on the back, changing gradually to reddish grey on the sides, and fading 
to simple grey 011 the abdomen. The head, tail, and fins are bright golden yellow, and 
the bars and patches of darker colour are deep chocolate-brown. Its average length is from 
eighteen to twenty inches. 

THE next family, the MullidaB, finds a well-known representative in the common 
SUBMULLET of the British seas, sometimes called the STRIPED RED MULLET, on account oi 
the yellow longitudinal stripes that are drawn along the body. 

This fish is celebrated for the excellence of its flesh, and in the time of the ancients 
was one of the most costly luxuries that the wealthy epicure could place upon his table, 
from forty to sixty pounds being paid for a fish weighing six or seven pounds. These 


dimensions are but rarely reached, and never, as it is believed, on the comparatively cold 
snores of England. The liver is held to be the best part of this fish, but the whole of its 
flesh is firm, white, and delicately flavoured. Its value in the market is extremely variable, 
owing to its migratory habits, being at one time caught by hundreds in the trawl or 
mackerel nets, while at other times there is not a single individual to be found. There 
seems, however, to be one definite rule in its migrations, namely, that it approaches the 
shore in the summer time, and in the winter retires into deep water, whence it can only be 
taken in the trawl net. 

The colour of this fish is extremely beautiful, but, as Mr. Yarrell remarks, the changing 
tints of red and purple are due, not to the natural colouring of the scales, but to the effects 
of violence. " If closely examined, it will be observed that where the scales happen not 
to have been removed, the natural colour is little more than a pale pink, passing into 
white on the belly, the lower part uf the sides having three or four longitudinal stripes ; 
but that the mixture of purple and bright red which ornaments every part of this fish is 
the consequence of violence : every scale removed by force and but little is necessary 
increases this colour ; it is produced by extravasated blood lying under the transparent 
cuticle, but above the true skin." 

The long barlmles with which the lower jaw is furnished are supposed to be organs of 

THREE-BANDED MULLET. L'peimts trifascidtus. 

touch, as they are well furnished with nerves, extremely sensitive, and may aid the fish in 
distinguishing one substance from another under dark overhanging rocks, where the eyes 
would be of no service. They are composed of long muscular fibres, covered with skin, 
and strengthened by a single cartilaginous ray that passes along the centre. 

The average weight of the Surmullet is about two pounds, and its ordinary length 
eighteen inches. 

ANOTHER species of this genus, the PLAIN EED-MULLET (Mullus barbdtus), has 
occasionally been taken on the British coasts, where, however, it seems to be of very rare 

In general habits it closely resembles the preceding species, but may be distinguished 
from that fish by the almost vertical line of the head, which rises abruptly from the muzzle 
to the eyes, and by the different colouring. In the Plain Red-Mullet the back is light 
pink, the sides and part of the abdomen dark red, and there is a single yellow streak below 
the lateral line. 

A BATHER extensive genus belonging to the present family cannot be passed over 
without some notice, as it contains many fish which are remarkable for their form and 
colouring, if not for their habits or utilities. 

The THREE-BANDED MULLET is a native of the Indian and Polynesian Seas, and has 
been taken off the coasts of China, Amboyna, Celebes, Ceylon, and India. It is an 
extremely variable species, so much so indeed that it has been indiscriminately called the 
Three-banded or the Two-banded Mullet, according to the number of stripes worn by the 
particular individual. The common variety of this fish is marked as follows : Behind the 
eye is a large black spot of an oblong form, a broad cross-band runs over the tail, and 
another from the front portion of the soft dorsal fin. Sometimes a third similar band rises 
from the spinous portion of the dorsal fin. Between these bands the scales are either 
yellow or white, according to the peculiarity of the individual. The upper half of the 
dorsal fin is mostly streaked with white and black longitudinal bands, and the remainder is 
wholly black. The anal fin is also marked with similar black bands. 

BRAIZE. Pagrus vulgaris. 

Another variety of this fish is marked in a very singular manner. The front portion 
of the body is black, diversified with two white longitudinal bands, one drawn from above 
the eye to the beginning of the soft dorsal fin, arid the other running obliquely from the 
cheek just below the eye to the lateral line. On each side of the tail there is a large 
black spot. About twenty species of this genus are known, all belonging to the warm or 
seas, and for the most part marked with bold stripes or spots. 

THE family of the SPARID^E is represented by the BEAIZE, otherwise known as the 

This is a common fish in the Mediterranean, and has occasionally, though very rarely, 
been taken on the British coasts. 

On leaving the precincts of its native sea, it seems to take a north or north-westerly 
course. It is on some occasions a rather sociable fish, swimming in little shoals ; approach- 
ing the shore in the spring and retiring into deep water towards the middle of summer. 
In habits it resembles the common sea-bream, of which Mr. Couch writes as follows : 
" In its general habits it might be considered a solitary fish, as where they most abound, 
the assemblage is formed commonly for no other purpose than the pursuit of food. Yet 
there are exceptions to this, and fishermen inform me of instances in which multitudes 
are seen congregated at the surface, moving slowly along, as if engaged in some important 
expedition. This happens most frequently over rocky ground in deep water." 

There are several varieties of this fish, the teeth and number of fin rays differing iu 
certain individuals. Its colour is uniform red. According to Dr. Giinther, Mr. Y&rrell 
has mistaken the Spanish Sea-Bream (Pagellus erythrinus) for the present species, 
giving the figure and description of one and the vignette of the other. 

The COMMON SEA-BREAM (Pagellus centrodontus), so well known on our coasts, is a 
handsome fish, notable for its large round eyes, and the reddish grey hue of its body. II 
is sometimes called the GILT-HEAD, because part of the head looks as if it were silvered, 
and when young, it goes by the name of CHAD. 


It is tolerably common, especially on the southern coasts, in the summer and beginning 
of autumn, but seems to be unable to endure the cold, and passes into deeper water at the 
first indications of winter. In the early summer, the young Sea-Breams, or Chads as they 
are then called, haunt the rocks in great numbers, and give good sport to anglers, biting 
freely at a baited hook, and struggling with some violence in spite of their modest six 
inches of length. The Chads do not possess the dark patch above the pectoral fin, and 
this mark is not obtained until the fish has reached its first autumn and is about half- 
grown. In their earlier stage, when they are only an inch or two long, they are devoured 
in great numbers by the larger fish. 

The food of the Sea-Bream consists of various animal and vegetable substances ; and 
the strong array of teeth which line its jaws are admirably adapted to the use for which 
they were made, namely to nibble the green seaweeds from the face of the rocks and to 
bruise them when taken into the mouth. 

The flesh of the Sea-Bream is not ordinarily thought of much value for the table, but 
Mr. Yarrell mentions a plan by which it can be rendered palatable. " When thoroughly 
cleaned, the fish should be wiped dry, but none of the scales should be taken off. In this 
state it should be broiled, turning it often, and if the skin cracks, flour it a little to 
keep the outer case entire. When on table, the whole skin and scales turn off without 
difficulty, and the muscle beneath, saturated with its own natural juices, which the 
outside covering has retained, will be found of good flavour." 

The eye of this fish is very large and of a beautiful golden yellow. The cheeks and 
part of the gill-cover are scaly, and a portion of the surface in front of and under the 
eyes has a metallic lustre. The general colour is reddish with a tinge of grey, becoming 
lighter on the sides, and fading into white below. Above the base of the pectoral fin is 
a rather large dark patch, which on a closer examination is seen to consist of a number of 
smaller spots. A few very faint bands are drawn along the sides. The dorsal and anal 
fins are brown, the ventrals grey, and the pectorals and tail fin red. 

As allusion has been made to the term GILT-HEAD as one of the popular names of the 
sea-bream, it is as well to mention that the title rightly belongs to a closely allied species 
Glirysophrys aurata, a fish that properly inhabits the Mediterranean, but has occa- 
sionally been taken on the British coasts. 

This fish derives its name from the semilunar golden spot over the eye. At the upper 
part of the edge of the operculum there is a violet patch. The back is blue, fading 
delicately into silver-grey, and the sides are longitudinally banded with golden streaks. 
The fins are greyish blue, and at the bases of the dorsal and anal fins the scales are so 
raised at each side, that the fin looks as if it were set in a groove. This arrangement is 
seen in many of the fish belonging to this family. 

WE now arrive at a large family, containing a series of fishes remarkable for their 
extraordinary shape, their bold and eccentric colouring, and their curious habits. In 
Dr. Gunther's elaborate arrangement of the Acanthopterygiian fishes, this family is called 
by the name of Squamipinnes, or scaly-finned fishes, because " the vertical fins are more or 
less densely covered with small scales ; " the spinous portions sometimes not scaly. They 
are nearly all carnivorous fishes, and for the most part are exclusively inhabitants of the 
tropical seas or rivers. Their bodies are very much compressed and extremely deep in 
proportion to their length, and the mouth is usually small and placed in front of 
the snout. 

THE first group of this family, or sub-family as it might be called, is termed Cliifito- 
dontiria, from the large typical genus of the group. Their mouths are small, and furnished 
with several rows of very tiny, slender, and bristle-like teeth, a peculiarity of structure 
that has gained for them their scientific name Chsetodontina, a term composed of two 
Greek words, the former signifying hair, and the latter a tooth. The colours of the 
species belonging to this group are brilliant in tint, and are generally arranged in bold 
stripes or spots. Black and yellow are the prevailing hues, but blue and green are found 
in some species. 

WANDERING CHjETODON.-Cfcoitodon. pictus. 
Lower figure. 

BEAKED CH^ETODON. Chelmo rostrdtus. 
Upper figure. 

ThP WANDERING CHJETODON is an example of a very large genus, comprising about 
species all of which are striking from their shape and colour Some of them are 
Sfn disc-like in the general contour of their figure, and the arrangement of 
markSgl L very conspicuous. The muzzle is modente in length, and the scales are 
rather large in proportion to the dimensions of the body. 


The Wandering Cheetodon is a native of the waters extending from the Eed Sea to 
Polynesia, and is one of the common fishes of the Ceylonese coasts. 

The colours of this fish are very beautiful, and are arranged after a very curious 
fashion. The ground colour of the body is golden yellow, on which a number of 
purplish brown lines are drawn in a manner that can readily be understood by reference 
to the illustration. Those that start. from the upper edge of the gill-cover, are drawn 
obliquely towards the centre of the dorsal fin, and from the last of these lines a number 
of streaks issue nearly at right angles, take a slight sweep downwards and then converge 
towards the tail. From the upper part of the head a broad black band descends to the 
angle of the interoperculum, and envelops the eye in its progress. The dorsal fin has a 
narrow black edge, and a black band extends along the soft portion of the same fin, 
crosses the tail, and is continued on the anal fin, which has a black and white edge. Two 
bold black bands are drawn across the tail. It is not a large species, rarely exceeding one 
foot in length. 

THE second figure on the same engraving represents a most remarkable species, called, 
from the form of its mouth, the BEAKED CH^TODON. 

The curiously elongated muzzle is employed by this fish in a rather unexpected 
manner, being used as a gun or bow, a drop of water taking the place of the arrow or 
bullet. Perhaps the closest analogy is with the celebrated " sumpitan," or blow-gun, of 
the Macoushi Indians, a tube through which an arrow is driven by the force of the 
breath. The Beaked Chsetodon feeds largely on flies and othei insects, but is not forced 
to depend, as is the case with nearly every other fish, on the accidental fall of its prey 
into the water. If it sees a fly or other insect resting on a twig or grass-blade that over- 
hangs the water, the Chsetodon approaches very quietly, the greater part of its body 
submerged, and its nose just showing itself above the surface, the point directed towards 
the victim. Suddenly, it shoots a drop of water at the fly with such accuracy of aim, 
that the unsuspecting insect is knocked off its perch, and is snapped up by the fish as 
soon as it touches the surface of the water. 

This habit it continues even in captivity, and is in consequence in great estimation as 
a household pet by the Japanese. They keep the fish in a large bowl of water, and 
amuse themselves by holding towards it a fly upon the end of a slender rod, and seeing 
the finny archer strike its prey into the water. Another fish, which will be figured and 
described in the following pages, possesses the same faculty, but is not so remarkable for 
its eccentric form and the bold beauty of its tints. 

The Beaked Chaetodon inhabits the Indian and Polynesian seas, and has been taken 
off the west coast of Australia, where it is usually found in or near the mouths of rivers. 
Over the head and body of this species are drawn five brownish cross-bands edged with 
darker brown and white, and in the middle of the soft dorsal fin there is a rather large 
circular black spot edged with white. 

Several other species of this genus are recognised, one of which, the LONG-BEAKED 
CasETODON (Chelmo longirostris], is truly remarkable for the exceeding development of 
the snout, which considerably exceeds half the length of the head. This species is also 
notable for a large triangular patch of jetty black, which covers the upper surface of the 
head, the neck, and the side of the head as far as the lower edge of the eye. There 
is also a circular spot of the same hue on the anal fin. This species is a native of 

THE very remarkable fish which is depicted on the accompanying illustration adds to 
the singular shape of all the group the peculiarly elongated dorsal spine from which it 
has received its name of LONG-SPINED CHAETODON, or CHAEIOTEEK. It also well exhibits 
the scale-covered fins, a structure which is indicative of the large family to which it- 
belongs. Both scientific names are of Greek origin, the former signifying a charioteer, 
the long slender spine representing the whip ; and the latter signifies " single-horned," in 
allusion to the same peculiarity. 

The fourth dorsal spine of this species is enormously elongated and whip -like ; its use 
not being as yet ascertained or even conjectured with any show of reason. Over each eye 

R 2 

LONO-SPINED CH^ETODON. Henioohus montcerot. 

is a conical projection, not easily distinguished, on account of the deep black hue with 
which it is coloured, and a similar protuberance arises on that part of the fish which is 
by courtesy termed the nape of the neck. It may be seen in the figure, about half-way 
between the snout and the beginning of the dorsal fin. Three very broad black bands 
are drawn across the body ; their edges are sharply defined, as if a painter had drawn them 
with black varnish. The foremost band commences at the first dorsal spine, and sweeps 
over the neck, upper part of the head, snout, and chin, the eye being imbedded, as it were, 
in the black ground, and shining with great vividness on account of the contrast. The 
second band passes from the fifth to the seventh dorsal spines to the abdomen, being 
rather narrow at the top, and widening as it passes downwards below, but not comprising 
the pectoral fin. The third band starts a little below the central streak, and is drawn 
rather obliquely over the body, through the hinder portion of the anal fin. A remarkably 
fine specimen in the British Museum was captured off the Mauritius. 

THE members of the curious genus to which the SEMILUNAR HOLOCANTHUS belongs 
are remarkable for a very strong, sharp-pointed, thorny spine with which the prseoperculuir. 
is armed. These curious fish are found in almost all tropical seas. 

SEMIJjUNAR HOLOCANTHUS. Holocanthus semicireulMus. 

All these fish are notable for the strange fashion of their colouring, and the present 
species affords a good example of the infinite variety with which the inhabitants of the 
warmer seas are tinted. There are no brilliant colours in this fish, the striking effects 
being produced by the bold contrasts of black and white, toned down with a little blue. 
The ground colour of the body is jetty black, upon which are drawn a number of curved 
concentric lines, alternately pure white and pale blue, the blue lines being narrower than 
the white. The tail fin is also black, and is marked with cross lines of white. The scales 
of this species are small, and the spine is smooth. 

Nearly forty species of this genus are now known, all of which possess some remark- 
able peculiarity in colouring. There is, for example, the RINGED HOLOCANTHUS (Holocan- 
thus annularis), where the shoulder is decorated with a blue ring, and the body is marked 
with six or seven arched blue stripes, all radiating from the base of the pectoral fin. The 
SPOTTED HOLOCANTHUS (Holocanthus maculosus) has a number of black semilunar spots 
on the fore part of the body ; the CILIATED HOLOCANTHUS (Holocanthus ciliaris) is marked 
with an azure ring on the nape of the neck, and a number of blue spots and streaks about 
the head; the EMPEEOE HOLOCANTHUS (Holocanthus Imperator) has a number of blue 
lines upon the head, chest, and anal fin, a large black spot on the shoulder, and the body 
decorated with many waved orange-coloured streaks ; and lastly the ARCHED HOLOCAN- 
THUS (Holocanthus arcuatus), though not so brightly clad, is quite as striking a species as 
any that has been mentioned, simply on account of the single arched stripe that is drawn 
along the body, from the eye to the end of the dorsal fin, taking a slight upward curve 
like a bent bow. 

It is said of one of the species LAMAKCK'S HOLOCANTHUS (Holocanthus Lamarckii), 
that the attachment between the sexes is very strongly developed, and that if one 
individual be captured, its mate will haunt the fatal spot and even fling itself ashore or 
into the net in the eagerness of its search. 

OF another group or sub-family of the scale-finned fishes, the AECHEE FISH is a good 

This curious species is a native of the East Indian and Polynesian seas, and possesses 
the power of shooting water at its prey with even more force than the beaked chsetodon 

ARCHER F18H. Turtles 'acu.l6.tur 

So powerful indeed is the projectile force, and so marvellously accurate is the aim, that it 
will strike a fly with certainty at a distance of three or even four feet. In general 
appearance there is little to attract attention about this fish, the only remarkable point in 
its form being the greatly elongated lower jaw, which may possibly aid it in directing the 
liquid missile on which it partially depends for its subsistence as does a hunter on the 
accuracy of his rifle. The general colour of the Archer Fish is greenish, and the short 
wide bands across the back are dark brown with a shade of green. Two species of this 
genus are known. 

BANDED CHILODACTYLE. Chaod&ctvlu* totuitvt 

As an example of the next family, the Cirrhitidse, we take the BANDED CHILODACTYLE. 
The family to which this fish belongs is a very small one, containing only eight genera, 

HED SCOBPION-FISU. Swrt**Mu scrvju. 

none of which comprise many species. Altogether, this family is not larger than many 
single genera. The members of which it is composed are all exotic species, inhabiting the 
" seas of the tropical regions and the southern temperate parts of the Pacific," and never, 
so far as is known, making their appearance on the British coasts. 

It would, however, be unwise to assert that such fish never do come within reach of 
our coasts, for it is manifestly impossible to decide the precise range of any active 
inhabitant of the ocean. Perplexing as is the task of ascertaining the habitation of 
migrating birds, the difficulty of fixing the range of fishes is far less easy to overcome, as 
the transition from the tropical to the temperate, and from them to the colder seas, is so 
extremely gentle, that a fish of errant disposition, or one that has been caught in a long 
lasting storm might be, and has been often, driven into strange waters which it does not 
know, and from which it can find no retreat. 

The Banded Chilodactyle is a native of the Chinese and Japanese seas, and there are 
specimens in the British Museum from both these localities. The dorsal fin of this fish 
has the fourth spine much elongated, and the membrane of the spinous portion deeply 
notched. The pectoral fins have also one spine, the last but four, considerably lengthened 
and pointing backwards. The colour of the fish is light brown, with several bands of a 
darker brown and spots of the same hue. A rather broad blackish band runs along the 
soft portion of the dorsal fin, and on the tail fin are a number of round grey spots edged 
with brown. When this fish attains to a considerable age, a pair of elevated tubercles 
make their appearance, one on the forehead and another on the snout. 

THE large and important family of the Triglidee, or Gurnards, is represented by several 
British fishes. This family contains a great number of species, many of which are most 
remarkable, not only for their beautiful colours, which alone are sufficient to attract 
attention, but also for the strange and wild shape, and large development of the fins. They 
are carnivorous fish, mostly inhabiting the seas, a very few species being able to exist in 
fresh water. They are not swift or strong swimmers, and therefore remain, for the most 
part, in deep water. Some, however, are able, by means of their largely developed 
pectoral fins, to raise themselves into the air, and for a brief space to sustain themselves 
in the thinner element. The mouth is mostly large, and in some cases the gape is so wide, 
and the head and jaws so strangely shaped, that the general aspect is most repulsive. 


ON account of its fiery colour and ungainly aspect, the EED SCORPION-FISH has long 
been supposed to possess qualities as dangerous as its appearance is repulsive, and has 
been termed the SEA SCORPION and SEA DEVIL from the supposed venom of its spines and 
frowardness of its temper. It is, however, a harmless fish enough, not capable of inflicting 
such severe injuries as several species that have already been described. When captured, 
it certainly plunges and straggles violently in its endeavours to escape, and if handled 
incautiously it will probably inflict some painful injuries with its bony spears. This 
result, however, is attributable to the carelessness of the captor and to the natural desire 
for liberty, and not to any malevolent propensities innate in its being. 

The 'flesh of the Eed Scorpion-fish is dry and flavourless, and is seldom brought to 
table, being eaten only by the poor, who cannot afford to throw away even so tasteless an 
article of food. In some parts of the world a useful oil is obtained from its liver. 

The general colour of this species is red, marbled with brown upon the body and fins. 
There is a rather conspicuous blotch of blackish brown on the dorsal fin between the sixth 
and ninth dorsal spines. It is not at all a large fish, the average length of a full-grown 
individual being about eighteen inches, which in a few very fine specimens is extended to 
two feet. 

ANOTHER species, the SPOTTED SCORPION-FISH (Scorpcena porous), inhabits the same 
localities, and has similar habits. Both these fish are extremely voracious, as may be 
inferred from their wide mouth and general aspect, feeding on the smaller fish and similar 
creatures. They have a habit of lying in ambush under overhanging tufts of seaweed, 
and thence issuing in chase of any unfortunate little fish that may happen to pass near 
the fatal spot. All the fish of this genus are remarkable for their large head, with its 
armature of spines and odd skinny flaps, and the curious naked groove that runs along its 
summit. The pectoral fins are always large and rounded, and the body is mostly 
decorated with sundry skinny appendages. Examples of this genus are found in all the 
tropical seas, extending as far north as the Mediterranean, and to the Atlantic shores of 
Northern America. 

The general colour of the Spotted Scorpion-fish is brownish red, marbled with dark 
brown and dotted with black. In some individuals the dots are arranged in lines round 
the dark marblings. A few half-grown specimens have been seen with a black blotch on 
the dorsal fin, and a number of black dots on the tail fin, arranged so as to form cross- 
bands. This is not quite so large a species as the preceding. 

THE extraordinary creature depicted in the engraving, which is known to British 
residents by the name of EED FIRE-FISH, and to the natives of Ceylon by the title of 
GINI-MAHA, inhabits the greater part of the tropical seas, from Eastern Africa, through the 
Indian Seas, to Australia. In the British Museum are many specimens of this wild and 
weird-looking being, some having been taken from Northern, and others from Southern 
Africa, several from Amboyna, one or two from China, and others from Australia. 

This fish is remarkable for the singular development of the dorsal and pectoral fins, 
the latter being of such vast proportionate size that they were formerly supposed to act 
like the corresponding organs in the flying fish, and to raise the creature out of the watei 
into the air. Such, however, is not the case, for the rays which carry the connecting 
membrane are not supported by a corresponding strength of bone as in the true flying 
fishes, and are far too weak to serve that purpose. Indeed, the object of this remarkable 
development is one of the many mysteries with which the inquiring zoologist is surrounded, 
and which make his task so exhaustlessly fascinating. 

The structure of the entire skeleton is very interesting to comparative anatomists, but 
is too complicated, and requires too many technical terms to be described in these pages. 

The Eed Fire-fish is common off the Ceylonese coast, and is said to be rather valuable 
as an article of food, its flesh being very white, firm, and nutritious. The native fishermen 
hold this species in some dread, thinking that it can inflict an incurable wound with the 
sharp spines which arm its person and stand out so boldly in every direction. This idea, 
however, is without any foundation ; for although the thorny spines may prick the hand 
deeply and painfully, they carry no poison, and inflict no venomed hurt. 

RED FIRE-FISH. Fterdis volitaru. 

The general colour of the Red Fire-fish is pinky brown, barred with darker brown, 
and the head is redder than the body. The huge pectoral and dorsal fins are reddish 
brown, crossed with bold bars of black ; the ventral fin is black, dotted with white spots, 
and the rest of the fins, including that of the tail, are light brown, spotted with black. It 
is by no means a large fish, being generally about seven or eight inches in length. There 
are nine or ten species of this genus. 

ONE or two notable fishes require a cursory notice. 

The SEA LOCUST (Apistos Israelitorum) is a native of the Red Sea, and is remarkable 
as being the only flying fish of those strange waters. It is particularly plentiful on that 
part of the coast near which the Israelites were forced to wander for a space of forty years, 
and on that account has received its specific title. Ehrenberg has noticed that it is very 
abundant near Tor, and that several specimens fell into his boat almost every time that 
the sea was agitated. He further throws out a suggestion, that the quails to which allusion 
is made in the sacred volume are really the Sea Locusts, but this conjecture seems to be 
entirely gratuitous, and is unsupported by facts. 

There is, in truth, no particular reason why the Hebrew word, which is translated as 
" quails," should not signify the bird in question ; and at all events, it certainly seems to 
be a feathered being of some kind, and not a fish, even though that fish does occasionally 
raise itself into the air for a brief space. The Arab name for this fish is Gherad-el-bahr, 
signifying literally, locust of the sea. The generic name, Apistos, signifies faithless or 
treacherous, and is given to this fish on account of the sharp spines which jut from the 
head, and which can inflict a painful wound. 

YELLOW 8CORPJENA. Mtmitriptenu Americdnv* 

ANOTHER curious fish is the SEEPAARD of the Dutch (Ayriopus torvus), a native of the 
seas around the Cape of Good Hope. 

It is a rather powerfully armed species, on account of the strong, sharp, and recurved 
spines of the dorsal fin, but its head is not supplied with the thorny projections that render 
the preceding fish so perilous to handle. The dorsal fin of the Seepaard is single, and the 
spinous portion is greatly developed, rising in a bold curve over the shoulders and back like 
the crest of an ancient helmet, and being continued almost as far the tail. Very little is 
known of this fish, though it is far from uncommon, and is eaten by the Dutch colonists 
of the Cape. 

Its colour is brown, mostly marbled with black, and the skin is smooth 

THE strange and quaintly decorated fish which is represented in the accompanying 
illustration is, as it name imports, an inhabitant of the American coast, being found on the 
Atlantic shores of Northern America. 

This odd-looking species frequents the same localities as the cod, and is often taken at 
the same time as that fish. The skin of the YELLOW SCORP^ENA is devoid of scales, and 
the ventral and pectoral fins are enveloped in thick skin. The head is depressed, naked, 
and is covered with a series of loose skinny appendages, that flap and wave about in the 
water without any apparent purpose. It is also armed with a number of rather sharp 
spines. There are two dorsal fins, the first being so deeply scooped that at one time the 
fish was described as possessing three dorsals. The first four spines of the dorsal fin are 
very long, and the membrane is deeply scooped between the fourth and fifth spines. The 
general colour of this fish is yellow, tinged more or less with red, and in some specimens 
marbled with brown. The length of a very fine specimen is about two feet, but the 
ordinary average is from fourteen to eighteen inches. 

TH&RE is a very ugly fish, found throughout the warmer oceans, from the Indian seas 
to Polynesia, called by the natives of the Isle of France the Fi-Fl, a very appropriate 
name, signifying hideous. Its scientific title is Synanceia verrucosa. 

It is not easy to imagine any living creature more frightfully repulsive than this 
species, which looks as if it had been originally but an undeveloped idea of a fish only 

FILAMENTOUS GURNARD. Ptlor filamentosum. 

partially carried out, with a body covered with tubercles, deceased from confluent small 
pox, and its surface in an advanced stage of decomposition. The head of this creature is 
enormous in proportion to the size of its body, and the skin, which hangs loosely about it, 
is soft, spongy, wrinkled, warty, and when touched adheres to the fingers as if covered 
with glue. In most places where it is known, it is held in much dread, and is thought to 
be capable of inflicting poisoned wounds by means of the sharp and slender spines with 
which it is armed. Its colour is blackish, mottled at random with white, grey, and brown. 
Sometimes it is almost wholly black. 

I HAVE already mentioned that the present family is rich in strange and eccentric forms, 
the head being apparently crushed out of all shape, hung about with scraps of depending 
skin, and armed with sharp projecting spines; the body oddly coloured, and the fins 
developed into the most extraordinary shapes, as if intended to show the infinite variety 
of Nature, and the contracted powers of human conjecture. There seems to be no reason 
whatever for the singular development of the fins in several of these species, for the odd 
shape of the head, or for the flaps of loose skin that depend therefrom like casual tatters 
on a mendicant's professional costume. 

The FILAMENTOUS GUENAED affords another example of this apparent capriciousness 
of grotesque formation, the shape of this very remarkable fish being better understood by a 
figure than by verbal description alone. It is found on the coasts of the Isle of Trance. 
It appears to feed mostly upon crustaceans and molluscs, and the bony remnants of certain 
cuttle-fish have been found in its stomach. Its colour is greyish brown, marbled with a 
deeper hue of the same tint, and covered with minute spots of white. 

There is another species of this genus which is coloured in a rather bold and pleasing 
manner. This is the SPOTTED PELOE (Pelor maculatum), which derives its name from the 
manner in which the black hue of the skin is variegated with white. In this species there 
are three large white patches on the back, and three more on the dorsal fin. Some circular 
white spots are scattered on the head, and a white ring encircles the eyes. The pectoral 
fins are decorated with a bold white band, and the tail fin is marked with two white bands 
alternating with the same number of black stripes. 


THE odd-looking fish, which is known by the name of the THREE-LOBED BLEPSIAS, is 
one of those species to which the ancient naturalists had affixed certain names without any 
apparent motive for so doing. There is no particular meaning in the word, and the sum 
of information obtainable from lexicons is, that it signifies a certain fish. 

The members of this genus are found on the coasts of Kamschatka, and some fine 
specimens in the British Museum were obtained from the New Orcas Islands, in the Gulf 

THREE-LOBED BLEPSIAS. BUixias cirrhosis 

of Georgia. This species is not very common, but may easily be known from its congener, 
the Two-LOBED BLEPSIAS (Blepsias bilobus), by the peculiar manner in which the spiny 
portion of the dorsal fin is notched so as to form the whole fin into three distinct lobes. 
In the second species this structure is not seen. In both, the soft portion of the dorsal 
fin is greatly developed, and the body and fins are boldly marked with dark streaks upon 
a lighter surface. The body is entirely covered with prickles. 

WE now come to a very familiar and not veiy prepossessing fish ; the well-known 
BULL-HEAD, or MILLER'S THUMB, sometimes called by the name of TOMMY LOGGE. 

This large-headed and odd-looking fish is very common in our brooks and streams, 
where it is generally found under loose stones, and affords great sport to the juvenile 
fisherman. In my younger days, the chase of the Bull-head was rather an exciting one, 
and was carried out without hook or line, or indeed any aid but the hands. This fish has a 
habit of hiding itself under loose stones, and on account of its flat, though wide head, is 
enabled to push itself into crevices which are apparently much too small to contain it. 

By practice, the stones which seemed most likely to shelter a Bull-head were soon 
noted, and an experienced eye was not very long in detecting the presence of the fish. The 
Bull-head has an inveterate habit of wriggling its tail, thus creating a current of water 
which betrays its whereabouts. The mode of catching the fish was, to wade very quietly 
to the stone, put both hands into the water, raise the stone smartly with the left hand, and 
make a rapid grasp with the right on the place where the fish was supposed to be lying. 
If the stone were tolerably large, the Bull-head could generally be picked out of its retreat 
by the fingers of one hand, while those of the other hand stopped up the entrance of the 
cranny, and prevented the intended prey from making its escape. The Bull-head is rather 
slow of movement, and when the sheltering stone is suddenly removed, it seems perplexed 
and bewildered, and merely flounces about in the same spot for a second or so before 
darting off to secure itself by flight. 



The name of Miller's Thumb is derived from the peculiarly wide and flattened head, 
which is thought to bear some resemblance to the object whence its name is taken. A 
miller judges of the quality of the rneal by rubbing it with his thumb over his fingers as 
it is shot from the spout, and by the continual use of this custom, the thumb becomes 
gradually widened and flattened at its extremity. The name of Bull-head also alludes to 
the same width and flatness of the skull. 

BULL-HEAD. CoMiti gobio. 

The Bull-head is a voracious little fish, feeding on various water insects, worms, larvae, 
and the young fry of other fish. It is a representative of a rather large genus, comprising 
about twenty-six or twenty-seven known species, which are spread over all the northern and 
temperate parts of the world. In Russia the Bull-head is believed by the general public 
to possess the same quality as is attributed to the kingfisher by our own rustic population, 
and to indicate the direction of the wind by always keeping its head turned to windward 
when it is dried and suspended horizontally by a thread. 

The mouth of this little fish is very wide, and contains numerous minute teeth. There 
is one spine on the prseoperculum, and the operculum ends in a flattened point. The 
general colour of the smooth skin is very dark brown on the back, white on the abdomen, 
and greyish white on the flanks. The rays of the fins are spotted with dark blackish 
brown and white, rather variable in different individuals, and the fins are marked with 
dark brown dots. The eyes are yellow, and the pupil very dark blue. It is but a small 
fish, averaging four, and seldom exceeding five, inches in length. 

Several other species of this genus inhabit England. There is the SHORT-SPINED 
COTTUS, or SEA SCOEPION (Coitus scorpius), which, as its name denotes, is one of the 
marine species. It is a very common fish, being found plentifully under heavy seaweeds 
and stones in the pools that are left above low-water mark by the retreating tide. The 
name of Scorpion is given to it on account of the sharp spines with which its head is 
armed, no less than eight sharp and four rather blunt prickles being found on the head. 
The rays of the dorsal and pectoral fins are also sharply pointed, so that it must be 
cautiously handled by those who wish to escape wounded fingers. This is a much prettier 
species than the preceding fish, its body being rich purple-brown, mottled with a warm 
red hue, and in the adult male there are some stripes of red on the pectoral fins, and the 
abdomen is brightly decorated with some snowy white circular spots on glowing scarlet 
In this country, its extreme length seldom exceeds eight inches. 



ANOTHER and much more formidable species is the well-known FATHEE LASHER, 
LONG-SPINED COTTUS, or LUCKY PROACH (Cottus bulalis). In colour this species is very 
like the sea scorpion, but it may readily be distinguished from that fish by the array of 
long and sharply pointed spines with which its head is armed. 

There are two spines proceeding from the back of the head and pointing towards the 
tail, four spines on the preeoperculum, and three on the operculum, besides those on the 
snout and other parts of the head and front of the body. The fish is quite aware of the 
formidable nature of these bony spears, and whenever it is threatened or touched, it spreads 
out the gill-covers, so as to present the sharp points in all directions, like the quills of an 
angry porcupine. It is a rather large species, measuring ten inches in length. It is 
common on our coasts, and like the preceding species may be taken in the rock pools at 
low water. 

The FOUR-HORNED COTTTJS {Cottus quadricornis) is sometimes, but rarely, found on the 
shores of England. It may be easily known by the four bony protuberances on the crown 
of the head. There are four spines on the prseoperculum. Its general colour is brown 
above, and greyish white below, the sides being yellow. The lateral line is marked with 
rough points. 

ARMED PLATYCEPHALUS. Platydphalm grandispinit 

THE generic name of Platycephalus, which is appropriately given to tbis and the other 
fish placed in the same group, is of Greek origin, and signifies Broad-head. 

In the illustration, the great width of the head is not seen, but its very considerable 
flatness is well shown. On looking down on the head, it is seen to be even wider in 
proportion than that of the bull-head, but is narrower towards the snout and not so 
rounded. The body is also flattened in front, but assumes a more cylindrical form towards 
the tail. 

The ARMED PLATYCEPHALUS is remarkable for the great length of the lower spine which 
proceeds from the praeoperculum, and which reaches almost to the edge of the elongated 
operculum. It is also very wide and strong, being indeed about four times as large as the 
spine immediately above it. There are three little spines in front of the eye. Its coloui 
is brown, mottled and spotted on the fins with deeper and lighter shades of the same 

WE now come to the typical genus of this family, which is represented by several well- 
known British species. 

The SAPPHIRINE GURNARD, so called from the fine deep blue which tints the inner 
surface of the pectoral fins, is one of the British fishes, and is of toterably common 
occurrence upon our coasts. 


LYRIE. 'Agonus cataphractus. 

This seems to be the most valuable of the nine species that inhabit the British seas, 
being, like all the others, excellent for the table, and exceeding them considerably in size. 
The name of Hirundo, or swallow, has been given to this fish on account of the great size 
of the pectoral fins, which are almost as proportionately large to the dimensions of the 
fish as the wings of the swallow to the bird. Putting aside the great development of these 
members, and their rich blue colour, the Sapphirine Gurnard may be distinguished from 
the other species by the extreme smoothness of the lateral line, which may be rubbed with 
the finger in either direction without exhibiting the spiny roughness which is found in 
other Gurnards. In consequence of this structure, the fishermen sometimes call the fish 
the Smoothside Gurnard. 

All the scales of this species are very small. The head is armed with spines, some 
springing from just before the eye, and others from the operculum and the shoulder. Its 
head is very large and flattened, and carried in a rather peculiar style, best understood 
from seeing a specimen or examining the illustration. The general colour of the body and 
head is reddish brown, the pectoral fins are very long and wide, and their colour is deep 
blue on the inside and brownish red on the exterior. The rays are white. When full 
grown it sometimes attains the length of two feet. 

Several other species of Gurnard inhabit the English seas, among which may be 
mentioned the CUCKOO GUENAED (Triyla pini), sometimes called the KED GUENAED from 
the colour of its body. This is a very common species, and when young may be found in 
the rock pools at low water, measuring only a few inches in length, but perfectly exhibiting 
the characters of its genus. The specific title of " pini," or belonging to the pine-tree, is 
giver to the Cuckoo Gurnard on account of the peculiar aspect of the lateral line, which is 


crossed with numerous short, straight, narrow, and elevated lines, which have been com- 
pared by some writers to the needle-shaped leaves of the pine. The name of Cuckoo 
Gurnard is given to it, because when it is first taken out of the water it emits a sound 
which bears a distant resemblance to the cuckoo's cry. The curious soft rays which project 
from the base of the pectoral fin in this and other Gurnards are evidently organs of touch, 
being plentifully supplied with nerves and movable at the will of the owner. 

The colour of this fish -is bright rosy red above, and silvery white on the sides and 
abdomen. These colours soon fade after the fish has been removed from the water. 

The GEEY GURNARD ( Trigla Gurnardus) is also tolerably common, and is readily to 
be known by its short pectoral fins and the greenish brown body, spotted with white above 
the lateral line. On account of the peculiar sound which it utters, it is popularly known 
in Scotland by the name of CROONER, and in Ireland is called the NOWD. 

ANOTHER curious species, the SHINING or LONG-FINNED GURNARD (Trigla obsc&ra), is 
sometimes found on the British shores. This remarkable fish is at once known by the 
great length of the second spine of the dorsal fin, which is nearly double the length of 
the other spines, and projects boldly with a slight curve towards the tail. It is a hand- 
somely coloured fish, the head and upper part of the body being vermilion-red, and the 
abdomen white, tinged with red. The flanks are shining silvery white, and have given 
cause for the name of Shining Gurnard. The fins are all bright red, with the exception 
of the pectorals, which are deep blue. 

The LYRIE, or ARMED BULL-HEAD, is found on our coasts, and is known by a great 
variety of names, such as ARMED BULL-HEAD, POGGE, SEA POACHER, and NOBLE. 

It is a curious-looking fish, with its bony armour-plates and shielded head. It is most 
commonly taken near the mouths of rivers, though it is sometimes captured far out at sea. 
Its flesh is firm and good, but its small size and bony shields render it scarcely serviceable 
for the table. It feeds mostly on aquatic animals. 

The body of the Lyrie is covered by eight rows of bony plates, strongly reminding the 
observer of the sturgeon, and the head, gill-cover, and shoulders are strongly armed with 
spines. The general colour of the Lyrie is brown above, crossed with several broad bands 
of dark brown, and the abdomen is white, with a trifling tinge of brown. 

IN the remarkable genus which now comes before our notice, the body is covered with 
bony plates, like ancient armour, and the front part of the head is formed into a deeply 
cleft fork on account of the development of certain bones of the skull. 

The ORIENTAL GURNARD is found in the Japanese seas, and is a good example of the 
genus to which it belongs, the bony plates being very large, and the forked processes of 
the head well developed. Between the ventral fins, each bony plate is just three times as 
long as it is broad. The prseoperculum is furnished with a strong spine, crossed by a 
projecting ridge from its angle. 

A VERY curious species belonging to this genus is sometimes, though very rarely, 
found in the British seas, and is known by the name of MAILED GURNARD (Peristethus 

In this fish, the bony plates between the ventral fins are twice as long as they are 
broad. It mostly prefers rather deep water over rocky ground, but approaches the shallows 
for the purpose of spawning. Its food consists of the softer crustaceans, medusae, and 
similar creatures. It is a swift swimmer, but .seems to be rather reckless, as it not 
unfrequently strikes its forked snout against the stones, and breaks off one or both points. 
The flesh of the Mailed Gurnard is tolerably good, but requires some care in cooking, 
besides costing some little trouble in freeing it from the hard bony plates in which the body 
is so securely enveloped. In order to clear away these defences, the fish must be soaked in 
warm water, and the scales stripped off from the tail upward. In some places, such as the 
coasts of Spain, it is held in considerable estimation, and is especially sought by fishermen. 

ORIENTAL OUUNA.UD. PerisUOiiu oriental* 

Its colour is red like that of the red Gurnard. Nearly all the rays of the first dorsal fin 
are extremely elongated, and, together with the mailed body, the armed head, and the double 
snout, give to the fish a most singular aspect. The total length of the Mailed Gurnard is 
about two feet. 

THE two extraordinary and beautiful fishes which are represented in the accompanying 
illustration are remarkable, not only for the very great development of the pectoral fins, 
their muscles and attachments, but for the unexpected use to which those members are 
occasionally subservient. 

These fishes, together with one or two other species, hereafter to be described, possess 
the power of darting from the water into the air, and by the mingled force of the impetus 
with which they spring from the surface, and the widely spread wing-like fins, to sustain 
themselves for a short space in the thinner element, and usurp for a time the privileges 
of the winged beings whose trackless path is through the air. 

The object of exercising these strange powers seems to be, not the pleasure of the fish, 
but the hope of escaping from the jaws of some voracious monster of the deep, whose sub- 
aquatic speed is greater than that of the intended victim, but whose limited powers 
are incapable of raising it into the air. Foremost among these persecutors is the coryphene, 
often called the dolphin by sailors, and which is the so-called " dolphin" whose colours 
glow with such changeful beauty during its death pangs. 

Little, however, do the powers of flight avail the unfortunate fish, for winged foes ; 
known by the name of albatros, frigate-bird, and similar titles, are hovering above iu 
waiting for their prey, and no sooner does the Gurnard launch itself fairly into the 
air, and so escape the open jaws of the pursuer coryphene, than the albatros swoops 
down with extended wings, snatches up the fish in its beak, and without altering the bold 
and graceful curve in which it has made the stoop, sweeps up again into its airy height, 
where it wheels on steady wing awaiting another victim. 

Between the hungry coryphene below, and the voracious albatros above, the poor Flying 
Gurnard leads no very happy life, and its intermediate existence, persecuted on either side, 
has been often employed as a type of those unfortunate persons who are ashamed of the 
3. 8 

FLYING GURNARD. Dactyloptena vditans. 

INDIAN FLYING GURNARD. Dactyldpterus oritntaUi. 

more lowly society in which they were born, and aspire to ascend to an elevated condition 
for which they are not fitted by nature. 

While passing through the air, the Flying Gurnard is able slightly to change its 
direction, but cannot prolong its flight, by flapping its finny wings. In fact, its elevation 
into the air may be readily imitated by throwing an oyster-shell in a horizontal direction, 
taking care to throw it in such a manner that the concavity is downwards and the 
convexity upwards. The flight is closely analogous to that of the flying squirrels, rats, 
and mice among mammalia, and of the flying dragon among reptiles. 

The COMMON FLYING GUENAED is brown above, passing into a beautiful rose-colour 
below. The fins are black, variegated with blue spots, and on the tail fin the spots run 
together so as to resemble continuous bands. Its length varies from ten to fifteen inches. 
It is a native of the Mediterranean and warmer parts of the Atlantic, and in many parts 
of those seas is very common. 

THE second species, the INDIAN FLYING GITENAED, is found throughout the Indian 
Ocean and Archipelago, and on account of its habits, its singular and striking form, and 



its lovely colouring, has always attracted the attention of voyagers, even though they have 
possessed no skill in natural history. 

This beautiful fish is notable for the two long detached filaments that are planted 
between the head and the dorsal fin, the first being extremely elongated and the second 
much shorter. The first spine of the dorsal fin is solitary, and at first sight looks like 
another isolated filament. In all the members of this genus, the prseoperculum is armed 
with long, sharp, and powerful spines, the scales of the body are strongly keeled, and there 
is no appearance of a lateral line. Four species of Flying Gu-rnards are known, the two 
which have been selected affording excellent types of their general form. In the Indian 
Flying Gurnard, the pectorals are covered with brown spots, and dotted rather profusely 
with bluish white. 

WE now arrive at a moderately large family of fishes, called, from the typical genus, 
Trachinidse. In these creatures the body is long and rather flattened, the gill-covers are 
wide, and the teeth are arranged in bands. 

OUE first example of these fishes is the very remarkable MEDITERRANEAN URANO- 
SCOPUS, a word which requires some little explanation before examining the form and 
habits of the species. The generic title is derived from two Greek words, literally 
signifying sky-gazer, and is given to the fish on account of the peculiar position of the 
eyes, which are set so singularly on the upper part of the head, that they look upwards, 
instead of sideways, as is the usual custom among the finny inhabitants of the waters. 

This species lives mostly at the bottom of deep seas, and is said to angle for the 
smaller fish, on which it feeds, by agitating a slender filamentary appendage of its mouth 
in such a manner as to resemble a worm, and to pounce on the deluded victims when 
they hurry to the spot in hopes of a meal. Though a fish of rather repulsive aspect, 
its flesh is tolerably good, and is eaten in many parts of Europe and along the shores 
of the Mediterranean. 

Its head is very large and broad, and is partially covered with bony plates, and the 
opening of the mouth is nearly vertical. The slender filament which has already been 



mentioned is set before and below the tongue, and the shoulder and gill-covers are 
armed with an array of strong sharp spines. 

THE typical genus of this family is represented in England by several species, of 
which the GREAT WEAVER is one of the most familiar. 

This species is the dread of fishermen, the wounds occasioned by the sharp ppine of 
the gill-cover, and those of the first dorsal fin, being extremely painful, and said to 
resemble the sting of a hornet, the evil effects extending from the hand up the arm, and 
even reaching the shoulder. On the first infliction of the injury, it gives little more 
pain than the prick of a pin or needle, but in a short time, a dull hot pain creeps up 
the arm, and increases in intensity for several hours. Fishermen, taught by experience, 
are very cautious in handling this dangerous fish, and before they place it in their 
basket, they cut off the whole of the first dorsal fin and the hinder part of the gill-cover 
In France, this precaution is rendered compulsory by law. 


The same remedies as those employed for the bite of the viper, such as persevering 
friction with hot oil, are said to be the best means of relieving the pain caused by thin 
small but formidable fish. One of these Weavers has been known to strike three men 
successively, and to injure them all in the same manner. 

It is very tenacious of life, and its popular title of Weaver has no connexion with 
loom, but is an Anglicized corruption of the French name La Vive, given to it in 
reference to the ease with which it endures absence from water. By our fishermen it is 
also known by the expressive appellations of STING-BULL and SEA-CAT ; the former name 
being given to it because it is supposed to be able to sting even the tough-hided 
monarch of the herd, and the latter from the deep pricks and scratches inflicted by r 
talon-like spines. . , 

The head and body of the Great Weaver are much compressed, and its colour is ( 
reddish grey on the back, with a wash of brown, fading to light grey on the abdomen, 
and marked with oblique ochreous lines. The gill-cover is streaked with yellow 
operculum is armed with a very long and sharp spine, pointing backward, 
is generally about one foot; but specimens have occasionally been captured that 
measured sixteen or seventeen inches in length. 

ANOTHER smaller species of this genus is common on our shores rather too common 
in fact and is popularly known by the appropriate names of STING-FISH, OTTER-PIKE, 
and LESSER W T EAVER, the last name being given to it on account of its comparatively 
diminutive form, its length seldom exceeding five inches. 


Though a smaller species than the Great Weaver, it is even more obnoxious to the 
public as it has an unpleasant habit of frequenting the shore, especially where the sand 
is mixed with mud, and there burying itself, leaving only the head exposed In this 
uosition it awaits its prey, which consists of the smaller crustacean and similar marine 
animals and if touched, it aims a blow at the intruder with marvellous precision and 
force These peculiarities render the fish an object of detestation to timid bathers, who 
are afraid to venture out of their depth, as well as to those who are fond of wading in the 
sea in the hope of discovering some new form of animal life, or watching the native 

habits of known species. . 

Whether any venomous substance is secreted by the fish and introduced by means of 
the spines is a point which has not yet fairly been settled ; but on a superficial view of 
the subject, the violently inflammatory symptoms which mostly supervene upon the 
wound, afford reasons for surmising that an injurious influence of some kind is exerted, 
t hough its source and action are as yet obscure. 

STING-FISH. Trachwvt tupertj. 

In this, as in the preceding species, the vertical position of the mouth, awkward as 
it may appear when the fish is lying upon a rock or a table, is yet extremely useful 
and permits the fish to seize its prey while it remains half buried in the mud 
or sand. 

The colour of the Sting-fish is reddish grey on the back, and silvery white on the 
abdomen and lower part of the flanks. The membrane of the first dorsal fin is black, 
and the tail fin is tipped with the same colour ; the other fins are brown. 

THE curious fish which is represented in the engraving affords a good example of a 
moderately large genus which is spread over many seas, being found on various shores 
from the Red Sea to the coast of Australia. 

The INDIAN SILLAGO is easily recognised by the extraordinary length of the second 
dorsal spine, which in a good specimen is developed to such an extent that it equals 
the length of the body. The use of this structure is very obscure. As its name imports, 
this fish inhabits the Indian seas, and is found in the Bay of Bengal and near the mouth 
of the Ganges. It is held in some estimation for the table, as its flesh is light, digestible, 
and well-flavoured. The colour of the Indian Sillago is brown. 

THE members of the genus Percophis are remarkable for the great proportionate 
length and cylindrical form of the body ; a modification of structure which has gained 
for them the generic title, which is of Greek origin, and signifies Perch-Snake. The 
scales are of the kind denominated ctenoid. 

INDIAN 8ILLAGO. Stftojpo ddmina. 

As the different kind of scales will necessarily be occasionally mentioned while 
treating of the fishes, it will be useful to give a brief description of the different forms 
of these appendages. 

THE scales are deposited by the action of the skin to which they adhere, forming part 
of the structure called the external skeleton, and, according to the best comparative 
anatomists, being closely analogous to the projecting spines that arm the body of many 
fishes, to the fin rays, and even to the teeth. The beautiful series of transitions through 
which anatomists have learned to ascertain the identity of the external skeleton with the 
fin rays, the spines, and the teeth, extends over a vast number of species, and is alto- 
gether too abstruse a subject to be admitted into these pages, in spite of its exceeding 

The reader, however, who wishes to see a specimen of transition from scales to teeth, 
may take one of the skate tribe say the eagle-ray and carefully examine the external 
surface of the body and interior of the mouth. On some parts of the body the scales 
are small, hard, and wart-like, while on others they are armed with projecting points. 
Following the scales over the head as far as the lips, they will be seen assuming a 
different shape, being there small, flattened, and aggregated together, forming a kind of 
bony tesselation, which, however, belongs to the skin, and can be stripped from it. When 
they have fairly passed the lips, they rapidly increase in size and hardness, and are then 
developed into the tremendous crushing-mill which has already been described. 

The scales of fishes are divided by some writers into four classes. The first are 
termed Placoid, or flattened scales, of which the common dog-fish affords a good example. 
The next class is called Ganoid, or polished scales, such as those of the sturgeon. 



The third series of scales are named Ctenoid, or comb-like scales, on account of tha 
toothed projections in their posterior edge. The beautiful scales of the Perch, so largely 
used in the manufacture of feminine ornaments, are familiar examples of ctenoid 
scales. The last class are the Cycloid, or rounded scales without teeth, such as those 
of the carp. 

On careful examination, the scales are found to be composed of two layers, which 
can be separated by careful manipulation, and their structure is permeated with channels, 
either partially closed so as to form grooves, or wholly so, and then become tubes. The 
comparatively straight lines which radiate towards the circumference, and the wavy 
lines which are drawn concentrically and cover almost the entire scale, can be referred 
to a common spot, called technically the " focus." This spot cannot rightly be termed 
the centre, because it is of variable dimensions, and, moreover, is seldom if ever placed 
exactly in the middle of the scale. 

Many scales throw out strong tooth-like projections, which in point of fact are the 
teeth of the external skin, and in some species, such as several of the dog-fish, are of 
crystalline hardness. In some fish, "such as the stickleback, a few of these processes 
of the skin are developed into long sword-like weapons ; in others, such as the trunk- 
fish, they are fused together, and form a continuous bony envelope to the body, pierced 
for the protrusion of the tail and fins ; in some, of which the diodons are good examples, 
they cover the body with an array of projecting spikes, like the quills of the hedgehog 
or porcupine, and in others, such as the sturgeons, are arranged in rows of bony plates 
along the body. 

WE return to the species now under consideration. 

The BRAZILIAN PEECOPIIIS is found upon the coasts of Brazil, and is apparently the 
sole representative of the genus in which it has been placed. The first dorsal fin is 
very sma,ll in proportion to the second, and the space between them is about equal to the 
length of the first dorsal The ventral fins are set very far forward, being placed under 
j,he throat. The lower jaw projects considerably beyond the upper, and the cleft of the 

BELTED HORSEMAN*. Eiptet lanceoldtiu 

mouth is horizontal, 
of the fish. 

Pl.e canine teeth are very large in proportion to the dimension? 

ANOTHER family, the Sciamidas, now come before us, and will be illustrated by several 
examples. The members of this family are clothed with ctenoid or toothed scales ; the 
mouth is set in front of the snout, the teeth are arranged in bands, and the gill-covers are 
either unarmed or furnished with feeble spines. 

The first example of this family is the BELTED HORSEMAN, a striking and boldly 
marked species. 

. This fish is found upon the Atlantic coasts of tropical America, and is perhaps the 
most striking of the limited genus to which it belongs. The body is oblong, and the 
nape of the neck is very high, its elevated line being continued by the first dorsal fin, 
which is short, high, and pointed, its height being just equal to the depth of the body. 
The second dorsal fin is long, rather low, and is covered with very thin scales. The tail 
tin is covered in like manner. The scales of the body are of moderate size. 

The general colour of the Belted Horseman is greyish yellow, diversified with three 
broad belts of blackish brown, each belt being edged with whitish grey. The first band 
passes vertically over the head, beginning just at the base of the first dorsal fin, traversing 
the head behind the eye, and descending to the angle of the mouth, and the others are 
drawn along the body, one reaching to the base of the ventral fin, and the other to the 
tail. There is, however, a slight variation in different specimens. 

ANOTHER species of the same genus, the SPOTTED HORSEMAN (Eques punctatus), is 
nearly, though not quite as remarkable a fish, and is notable for the bluish white spots 
which decorate the dorsal, ventral, and anal fins. The general colour of this fish is brown, 
with two vertical bands running over the side of the head, and some curved bands passing 
along the body from the back to the tail. This fish is found in the Caribbean seas. 

CLOSELY allied to these creatures is a rather remarkable fish, called scientifically 
Pogdnias chromis, and more popularly known by the name of BEARDED DRUM-FISH. 


This title is given to tne fish on account of the peculiar sounds produced by the fish,' 
which are thought to bear some resemblance to the beating of a drum. The sound is 
apparently produced both while the fish is immersed and after its removal from the water, 
and probably on account of the sound-conducting powers of the water, the hearer finds 
great difficulty in referring the strange noises to any particular spot. These fish do not 
seem to thrive well in fresh water, as the drumming was invariably found to cease as soon 
as the boat in which the observers were sitting had left the sea-coast and entered a river. 

This fish has an oblong body and a rather convex muzzle, the upper jaw being 
larger than the lower. The first dorsal fin is furnished with ten strong spines, and two 
similar spines appear on the anal fin, one being much stronger than the other. It has 
derived its name of Bearded Drum-fish from the large array of barbels, about twenty in 
number, which hang from its jaws. The generic name Pogonias signifies bearded, and is 
given to the fish in allusion to this peculiarity. The tail fin is rather abruptly cut short. 
The general colour of this fish is brownish grey, with a bold black spot on the shoulder. 
It is a native of the North American coasts, and is known to extend as far south as 

ANOTHER noisy fish is well known under the title of MAIGEE, the strange sounds 
produced by this species having been heard from a depth of one hundred and twenty feet. 

In one instance, perhaps in many others, the novel accomplishment has led to the 
destruction of its possessors, the fishermen having been directed by the sounds to the 
whereabouts of the utterers, and inclosed them in their nets. The flesh of the Maigre is 
thought to be peculiarly excellent, the head and shoulders being held in the greatest 

It is a rather large fish, seldom measuring less than a yard in length, and often 
attaining nearly double those dimensions, and is in consequence extremely valuable to 
the fisherman. Although at one time it might be captured with tolerable frequency on the 
coasts of France, and now and then on the British shores, it is now very scarce, having 
shifted its localities, and being found most plentifully on the southern shores of the 
Mediterranean. There it seems to be hatched and to remain until it attains nearly adult 


age, when it crosses to the northern side of that sea, and is there found to be of 
considerable dimensions. 

On account of its size and active habits, the Maigre struggles most powerfully when 
entangled in the nets, and a fine lively specimen, when lifted into a boat, will flounce 
about with such activity, and wield its tail with such rapid force, that it will level a human 
being with a blow. Warned by previous experience, the fishermen take care to quiet 
their energetic prey by a stroke on the head as soon as it is fairly lifted over the side 
of the boat. 

The ear-bones of fishes have already been mentioned. In the Maigre they are of very 
great proportionate dimensions, and in former days were in great repute for their efficacy 
in charming away the colic, the only proviso being that they must be received as a gift, 
and not purchased, or removed by the sufferer from the head of the fish. The noise made 
by the Maigre is a kind of purring or grunting, which, when many of these fish are 
grunting in concert, can be heard at some distance. 

The colour of the Maigre is delicate silver-grey, taking a slight brownish tinge on the 
back, and being very white on the abdomen. The fins are reddish brown, and the ruddy 
hue is particularly conspicuous in the first dorsal, the pectoral, and anal fins. The lateral 
line runs parallel with the back. 

The BLACK CORVINA of the Mediterranean (Corvina nigra), is allied to the maigre, 
and is scarcely less celebrated than that fish for the excellence of its flesh. 

This fish is not exclusively a marine species, but frequents salt lakes and ponds, and, 
though it hovers about the mouths of large rivers, probably for the purpose of feeding on 
the many animal and vegetable substances which are borne by their currents into the sea, 
does not appear to ascend their streams. In general appearance it is not unlike the maigre, 
and is often sold in the markets under that name. 

BEFORE leaving the present family, a short notice is due to the SQUETEAGUE, or WEAK- 
FISH of North America (Otolithus regdlis). 

This is another of the noisy fishes, producing dull sounds like those of a drum. It is 
plentiful about New York, and is captured in large quantities for the table. The name of 
Weak-fish is attributable to two causes, the one that when hooked it makes but a feeble 
resistance, and the other that its flesh is popularly supposed to be weakening to those 
who habitually live upon it. It is a useful species, for it not only affords delicate food, 
but its swimming-bladder can be made into isinglass which is said to be in no way 
inferior to that of the sturgeon. On account of its spotted skin, the French of Ne\v 
Orleans call it by the name of Trout. 

AN example of the next family, the Polyneinidse, may be found in the MANGO-FISH 
(Polynimus paradiseus), so called on account of its fine golden yellow colour, which 
resembles that of the ripe mango. 

The generic name of Polynemus, or Many-threaded, is given to this and others of the 
same group on account of the free thread-like appendages below the pectoral fin. In the 
present species there are seven of these appendages, the upper being of singular length, 
passing far beyond the tail. In another species, the MANY-THREADED POLYNEMUS 
(Polynemus multifilis), these appendages are fourteen in number. 

Isinglass can also be made from the swimming-bladders of these fish, and as when quite 
dry one bladder will weigh from half to three-quarters of a pound, the fish might be 
rendered valuable to commerce. The flesh of the Mango-fish is not particularly excellent 
when eaten fresh, but when preserved and salted after some peculiar fashion, is in some 
request at the breakfast table, w r here it ranks with caviare and other strongly flavoured 
delicacies. When thus prepared, it is known by the name of " burtah." 

In the Mango-fish, the first filament is twice the length of the body. 

ONE example of the Sphyrsenidse, the family next in order, is the BECUNA, a rather 
large and tolerably ferocious fish, inhabiting the Mediterranean and many parts of the 
Atlantic Ocean. 



This long-bodied, deep-mouthed, and sharp-toothed fish beais some resemblance to the 
pike both in general appearance and in habits, and is hardly less voracious than the 
veritable pike of our own country. It is said that from the scales of the Becuna are 
washed those minute crystalline spiculse, which are so useful in the preparation of 
.artificial pearls, and which, when mixed and prepared for commerce, are termed essence 
d'orient. Some parts of the air-bladder are also used in the manufacture of this substance. 
The flesh of the Becuna is well flavoured and is often brought to table ; being capable of 
being dressed in a fresh state and after salting. 

BECUNA. Sphyrcena vulg&ru. 

On the back, the colour of this fish is leaden blue with a wash of green, and on the 
abdomen it is white. The sides are in many specimens marked with dark cross-bars of 
the same green colour as the back. When young it is spotted with brown. 

ANOTHER species of the same genus, the BARRACOUDA PIKE, is nearly as useful as an 
article of food, though its utility is partly impaired by the fact that at some seasons of 
the year its flesh is of a very unwholesome character, producing sickness, pain in the 
joints, sometimes accompanied with loss of the nails and falling off of the hair. 

It is thought that the poisonous property is occasioned by certain food of which the 
fish partakes at such seasons, the fruit of the manchineel being the chief substance to 
which the evil effect is attributed. For many reasons, however, among which the carni- 
vorous character of the fish is most weighty, this suggestion appears to be groundless, and 
naturalists have agreed that the true cause is yet to be discovered. 

Whatever may be the cause, the result is too well known, and it is said that an 
experienced person can detect a Barracouda Pike when in this unsound condition, by 
making an incision in the flesh, from which a whitish fluid exudes if the flesh be 
poisonous. The liver also affords another test, contracting a peculiar bitter taste under 
such circumstances. 

This fish attains a much larger size than the preceding species, and when full grown 
and hungry, is thought to be little less dangerous than a shark of the same dimensions. 
Its colour is olive-green above with a beautiful under tinting of rich green, its sides are 
mostly decorated with brown blotches, and the abdomen is silvery white. It is found in 
tropical portions of the Atlantic Ocean. About fifteen species are known. 

WE now arrive at a small family of fishes, termed Trichiuridae, or Hair-tailed fishes, 
in consequence of the delicate filamentary finleta which decorate the tail in some species 



la all these fishes, the body is long and compressed, almost like a riband, and indeed is 
not at all unlike those flat " snakes " that are sold in the toy shops, and which dart in 
all directions when held by the tail. 

The first example of these curious creatures is the SCABBAKD-FISH, so called because 
in shape it bears some resemblance to the sheath of a sword. 

On account of its shape and bright silvery whiteness, it is a most striking inhabitant 
of the ocean, and when writhing its way through the translucent water, in elegant 
undulations, it looks like a broad riband of burnished silver winding through the waves. 
This shining brilliancy is caused by a thin epidermis, which covers the body in place of 
scales, and which can be easily rubbed off by the lingers, to which it adheres, transmitting 
to them a portion of the metallic whiteness which it imparted to its proper owner. 

In spite of the exquisite beauty of this fish, it is captured for the sake of its flesh, 
which is highly esteemed, and is generally sought in the months of April and May when 
it approaches the coasts. The drag-net is the usual instrument of capture. It seems to 
be a solitary fish, and lives at a considerable depth. The rapid undulations of the body 
are capable of propelling the creature through the water with great velocity, but, from all 


appearances, it is not able to make much way against a rapid tide, or to overcome the 
dashing waves raised by a tempestuous wind. 

Several specimens of this beautiful fish are in' the British Museum, the largest of 
which measures more than five feet in length. Along the back runs a single dorsal fin, 
and the ventral fins are only represented by a pair of scales, a structure which has gained 
for the fish the generic name of Lepidopus, or Scale-fin. 

ANOTHER fish that much resembles the preceding species is sometimes, but very rarely 
seen upon the British shores. This is the SILVERY HAIR-TAIL ( Trichiurus lepttirus), a specie's 
that may easily be distinguished from the scabbard-fish by the shape of the tail, which 
has no fin at its extremity, but tapers into a long and gradually diminishing point. This 
species is common in many parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and by the Spanish inhabitants 
of Cuba it is termed the Sabre-fish. 

Another species, the SAVALA (Trichiurus Savala), is found in the East Indian seas, 
and is sufficiently plentiful to form a recognised article of diet, and to be sold in the 
Qiarkets. The Savala bears salting well, and is much used for consumption when the 



inclemency of the weather will not permit fishing-boats to put to sea. When fresh, 
however, it does not s.uit the taste of Europeans, though in Malabar the salted fish is 
esteemed both by the native inhabitants and the European colonists. 

BEFORE leaving this small but curious family, the ATUN (Thyrsites atun} deserves a 
passing notice. 

This elegant and useful fish is found on the coasts of Southern Africa and part of 
Australia, and is much valued for the flakey whiteness and pleasant flavour of its flesh, 
which bears some resemblance to that of the cod, but is even superior in delicacy. It feeds 
mostly upon the cuttle-fish, the calamary being its favourite prey. So voracious is this 
creature that it is readily caught by making a sham calamary out of lead and leather, 
dressing it with projecting hooks, and flinging it into the sea. The fishermen throw this 
bait to some distance, and then draw it rapidly through the water, when the Atun takes 
it for the real calamary darting along after its usual fashion, dashes at it and is 
immediately hooked. In default of this bait, a strip of red cloth stuck on a hook is 
often a sufficient lure for this voracious fish. 

MACKAREL. Scomber scomOer. 

THE important, though not very large family of the Scomberidje, contains many 
species that are almost invaluable as food, and others that are beautiful in form and 
interesting in habits. 

Our first example of these fishes is the MACKAREL, so well known for the exceeding 
beauty of its colours and the peculiar flavour of its flesh. This is one of the species 
that are forced by the irresistible impulse of instinct to migrate in vast shoals at certain 
times of the year, directing their course towards the shores, and as a general rule 
frequenting the same or neighbouring localities from year to year. The time of their 
advent is rather variable, and in consequence the price of this fish varies with the scarcity 
or abundance. At the beginning of the season, before the shoals have made their 
appearance, a fresh Mackarel will fetch half-a-crown or three shillings, while in a week or 
two afterwards a hundred may be purchased for the same sum. As a general rule, when 
they are in full season, they are sold in the streets of London for three or four a shilling. 

The flesh of the Mackarel is very excellent, and it possesses a rather powerful and 
unique flavour that has caused fennel to be looked upon as a necessary corrective in the 
auce with which the fish is served. Unfortunately, it must be eaten while quite fresh, 


as it becomes unfit for consumption in a very short time after being taken out of the 
water ; and in consequence of this property, the London costermongers are permitted to 
hawk it about the streets on Sundays, much to the discomfort of peaceable householders 
who long for repose and do not want Mackarel. 

This fish is taken both by nets and lines, the nets being of two kinds, one called the 
drift-net, and the other the seine. The drift-net is, as its name implies, allowed to be drifted 
out by the tide, and is suspended along a cord called the drift-rope. The whole length of 
one of these nets when shot is sometimes a mile and a half, these enormous dimensions 
being attained by attaching a number of nets together at the ends. Each of these nets 
is one hundred and twenty feet long and twenty feet deep, and along the upper edge are 
fastened a series of cork floats. When the net is to be shot, a large buoy is attached to 
the end of the drift-rope, the buoy is thrown overboard and the sails set. As the boat 
dashes away from the spot, the nets, which have already been attached to the drift-rope, 
are thrown successively overboard, until all the nets are paid out and hang in the water 
like a net wall. The strain of the buoy at one end of the drift-rope and the boat at the 
other keeps the rope straight and the net upright. 

As the Mackarel come swimming along, they are arrested by the net, which they 
cannot see, on account of the thin twine of which it is made, and the large meshes, which 
are about two and a half inches in diameter. The head slips through the meshes, but the 
middle of the body is too large and cannot pass. When the fish attempts to recede, the 
open gill-covers become hitched in the meshes, and so retain it in that uncomfortable 
position until the net is hauled in. 

This is a delicate and difficult operation, especially when the take of fish is heavy. 
Mr. Yarrel mentions that in June, 1808, the nets were so heavily loaded that the fisher- 
men could not haul them in or even keep them afloat, so that they were forced to cut the 
drift-ropes, and let the nets sink and be lost. The nets on this occasion were worth 
nearly sixty pounds, not including the value of the fish. 

In the seine-net, the fish are taken by surrounding a shoal with the net, which is made 
with very small meshes, and either gently hauled to the surface, so that the inclosed fish 
can be dipped out, or even drawn ashore and then emptied. 

Fishing for Mackarel with a line is also a profitable mode of taking these fish, although 
they cannot be caught in such multitudes as with the net. The Mackarel is a very 
voracious fish, and will bite at almost any glittering substance drawn quickly through the 
water, a strip of scarlet cloth being a very favourite bait A tapering strip of flesh cut 
from the side of a Mackarel is found to be the most successful of any bait, and the method 
of angling is simply to pass the hook through the thicker end of the strip technically 
called a " lask " and to throw it overboard a boat in full sail, so that it is towed along 
without trouble. The hook is kept below the surface of the water by means of a leaden 
plummet fixed to the line a short distance above the hook, and the Mackarel on seizing 
the flying bait is immediately caught. On a favourable day, when the sky is not too bright, 
and the wind is tolerably brisk, two or three men can take the fish as fast as they can bait 
and throw overboard. 

The colour of the Mackarel is rich green upon the back, variegated with deep blue 
and traversed with cross bands of black, straight in the males; but undulating in the 
females. The abdomen and sides are silvery white, with golden reflections. These colours 
are most brilliant during the life of the fish, and as they fade soon after it has left the 
water, their brilliancy affords a good test of its freshness. 

THE celebrated TUNNY belongs to this family, and is closely allied to the mackarel. 

This magnificent and most important fish does not visit our coasts in sufficient numbers 
to be of any commercial importance ; but on the shores of the Mediterranean, where it is 
found in very great abundance, it forms one of the chief sources of wealth of the sea-side 

In May and June, the Tunnies move in vast shoals along the shores, seeking for 
suitable spots wherein to deposit their spawn. As soon as they are seen on the move, 
notice is given by a sentinel, who is constantly watching from some lofty eminence, and 


the whole population is at once astir, preparing nets for the capture, and salt and tubs for 
the curing of the expected fish. There are two modes of catching the Tunny, one by the 
seine-net and the other by the " madrague." The mode of using the seine is identical with 
that which has already been described when treating of the mackarel, but the madrague is 
much more complicated in its structure and management. 

The principle of the madrague is precisely the same as that of the " corral," by which 
wild elephants are entrapped in Ceylon. 

A vast inclosure of united nets, nearly a mile in length, and divided into several 
chambers, is so arranged that as the Tunnies pass along the coast, they are intercepted by 
a barrier, and, on endeavouring to retreat, are forced to enter one of the chambers. When a 
number of Tunnies have fairly entered the net they are driven from one chamber to another, 
until they are forced into the last and smallest, called significantly the chamber of death. 
This chamber is furnished with a floor of net, to which are attached a series of ropes, so that 
by hauling on the ropes, the floor of the net is drawn up, and the fish brought to the 
surface. The large and powerful fish struggle fiercely for liberty, but are speedily stunned 
by blows from long poles, and lifted into the boats. 

The flesh of the Tunny is eaten both fresh and salted. It is most extensively used, 
being pickled in various ways, boiled down into excellent soup, and is also made into pies, 
which are thought to be very excellent, and possess the valuable property of remaining 
good for nearly two months. The different parts of the fish are called by appropriate 
names, and are said to resemble beef, veal, and pork. 

The food of the Tunny consists mostly of smaller fish, such as herrings and pilchards, 
and the cuttle-fish also form some portion of its diet. 

In general shape the Tunny is not very unlike the mackarel, but in size it is vastly 
superior, generally averaging four feet in length and sometimes attaining the dimensions 
of six or seven feet. The colour of the upper part of the body is very dark blue, and the 
abdomen is white, decorated with spots of a silvery lustre. The sides of the head are white. 

OF an allied species, the PACIFIC ALBACOEE (Thynnus Pacificus), Mr. F. D. Bennett 
writes as follows, in his well-known " Whaling Voyage." " Ships when cruising slowly in 
the Pacific Ocean are usually attended by myriads of this fish, for many successive months. 


A few days' rapid sailing is nevertheless sufficient to get rid of them, however numerous 
they may be ; for they seldom pay more than very transient visits to vessels making a 
quick passage. When the ship is sailing with a fresh breeze, they swim pertinaciously by 
her side and take the hook greedily ; but should she be lying motionless or becalmed, they 
go off to some distance in search of prey, and cannot be prevailed upon to take the most 
tempting bait that the sailor can devise. 

It is probably as a protection from their chief enemy, the sword-fish, that they seek the 
society of a ship. I am not aware that the shark is also their enemy, but they seemed to 
have an instinctive dread of this large fish, and, when it approached the ship, would follow 
it in shoals, and annoy it in the same manner as the smaller birds may be seen to annoy 
those of a larger and predaceous kind, as the hawk or owl. 

They are very voracious and miscellaneous feeders. Flying fish, calamars, and small 
shoal-fish are their more natural food, though they do not refuse the animal offal from a 
ship. Among other food contained in their maw, we have found small ostracians (i.e. trunk- 
fish), file-fish, sucking-fish, janthina shells, and pelagic crabs in one instance a small 
bonita, and in a second a dolphin, eight inches long, and a paper nautilus shell, containing 
its sepia tenant. 

It was often amusing to watch an Albacore pursuing a flying fish, and to mark the 
precision with which it swam beneath the feeble aeronaut, keeping him steadily in view, 
and preparing to seize him at the moment of his descent. But this the flying fish would 
often elude by instantaneously renewing his leap, and not unfrequently escaped by extreme 

The BONITO (Pelamys sarda) is a very pretty and common species that is found in the 
Mediterranean and many parts of the Atlantic. 

This is a smaller species than the albacore, not exceeding two feet and a half in length. 
The flesh of this fish is eaten both fresh and when pickled, but in a fresh state is not held 
in very high estimation. At some seasons, it appears to contract an unwholesome quality, 
which is injurious to certain constitutions, causing rather a painful rash to break out on 
the face and body, though others can eat it with impunity. The flesh is very red in colour, 
and looks very like butcher's meat. 

Like the albacore, the Bonito is a determined foe of that much persecuted creature the 
flying fish, and is often taken by means of u hook dressed with feathers so as to resemble 
its natural prey. It is a truly beautiful species, deserving fully the popular name of 
Bonito, which may be freely translated as Little Beauty. The back is deep indigo blue, 
mottled with a lighter shade of the same hue, and when young a number of dark streaks 
are drawn across the back. The abdomen is silvery white, and the cheeks and gill-covers 
are of the same brilliant hue. 

ANOTHER species, the STRIPED BONITO (Auxis RocJiei), inhabits the same localities, 
and is nearly as plentiful as the preceding fish. It may readily be known from the plain 
Bonito by the four dark lines which extend along each side of the abdomen and end at 
the tail. 

THE prettily marked PiLOT-FiSH is frequently seen off the British coasts, but seems to 
be rather shy, and is not very often captured. 

This little fish has long been supposed to act the part of the shark's provider, and to 
perform in the ocean the same actions that were once attributed to the jackal on laud. 
Many modern writers, however, deny the truth of the statement, by saying that the Pilot- 
fish only follows the shark for the sake of the scraps that the larger fish is likely to 
leave, and that it would probably be snapped up by the shark but for its watchfulness 
and agility. 

As is usual in such a disputation, the evidence is very conflicting, and many accounts 
have been published tending to throw discredit on the one side or the other, according to 
the particular circumstances under which the observations were made. One well-known 
naturalist, for example, mentions an instance where a shark was directed towards 
a baited hook by two Pilot-fish that accompanied him ; but, on the othe" hand, another 


accomplished observer narrates an interesting anecdote of a shark being continually 
warned of a baited hook by his little friends, who struck their noses agairst his snout 
whenever he turned towards the bait. At last, however, he dashed at the tempting 
morsel and was captured, to the sorrow of the Pilot-fishes, who swam about for some 
time in search of their friend, and then darted down into the depths of the sea. 

Mr. Bennett, in the work to which allusion has lately been made, has some very 
curious and interesting observations on this fish, -which must be given in his owu 
words : 

PILOT-FISH. Kaitcrates duoiur. 

" Pilot-fish are almost invariably found in attendance upon the shark, though the 
nature of their connexion with that ferocious fish is somewhat mysterious. They will 
accompany ships for a considerable distance after their patron shark has been destroyed ; 
but I am not aware that they have ever been seen, like the remora, attending upon other 
large fish, whales, or miscellaneous floating bodies. The structure of their mouth and the 
contents of their stomach, which are usually small fish, denote that they are accustomed 
to seek their food in a very independent manner. We captured many of them also 
by hook and line, baited with flesh ; nor did they refuse the bait even when they were in 
company with a shark. 

The reputation this fish has obtained of being the shark's pilot or provide* (and which 
has sanctioned its trivial name) would appear to be groundless, were we guided only by 
the want of similar precedents in the animal kingdom. A fact, however, which came 
under my notice during a voyage from India, in the year 1832, led me to believe that 
there is some just foundation for this popular opinion. 

While we were becalmed in the Atlantic Ocean, a shark was seen close to the ship, 
and attended by two Pilot-fish, which generally swam onp above and the other below 
him, and occasionally went off to some distance, as if t& explore the surrounding sea, 
although it was seldom long before they returned and resumed their former positions ; 
the shark, in the meantime, by its unwieldy form, slow movements, and lethargic aspect, 
offered a strong contrast to the sprightliness and activity of his scouts. 

A baited hook was lowered from the bow of the ship ; but the shark, when alone, 
passed it several times without notice, and apparently without seeing it. One of the 
foraging Pilot-fish then approached the bait, and immediately swam off to where the 
shark was headed in a contrary direction, when the monster instantly turned, and 
followed his informant, which now swam ahead of him, in a direct line towards the 


suspended bait. He did not then hesitate a moment, but seized it and was captured. 
While the shark was being hauled on board, the Pilot-fish expressed the greatest concern, 
almost leaping out of the water in their endeavours to follow him, and swimming near the 
surface with every demonstration of anxiety. 

These faithful little fish were observed to attach themselves to the ship, but attracted 
little attention until some weeks afterwards, when we spoke the Thomas Grenville, East 
Indiaman, and lowered a boat to communicate with her. One of the fish was then seen 
to accompany the boat to and from the stranger ship ; and so devotedly did it attend 
upon what it might have believed to be its lost shark, as to lead the officers of the Thomas 
Grenville to remark that we had a Pilot-fish painted on the rudder of the boat. 

Their attendance upon sharks is somewhat capricious : we have seen more than five 
associated with one shark, while many others of the latter tribe, and assembled in the 
water at the same time, have not been accompanied by one of these fishes. They have 
evidently nothing to dread from the voracious companion they select, but swim around, 
and often a few inches ahead of him, as either their convenience or caprice may dictate." 

The colour of the Pilot-fish is greyish blue with a mark of silver, dark on the back, 
and becoming paler towards the abdomen. Five bands of dark blue pass completely round 
the body, and there are two faint blue bands, one on the head and the other on the tail. 
The pectoral fins are clouded with blue and white. The ventral fins are nearly black. 
The usual length of the Pilot-fish is about one foot. 

EVERY one has heard of the SUCKING-FISH, and there are few who are not acquainted 
with the wild and fabulous tales narrated of its powers. 

This little fish was reported to adhere to the bottom of ships, and to arrest their 
progress as suddenly and firmly as if they had struck upon a rock. The winds might 
blow, the sails might fill, and the masts creak, but the unseen fish below could hold the 
vessel by its single force, and confine her to the same spot as if at anchor. It is 
wonderful how fully this fable was received, and how many years were needed to root the 
belief out of prejudiced minds. Both scientific names refer to this so-called property, 
echeniis signifying " shipholder," and remora meaning delay. 

That the Sucking-fish is able to adhere strongly to smooth surfaces is a well-known 
fact, the process being accomplished by means of the curious shield or disc upon the 
upper surface of the head and shoulders, the general shape of which can be understood by 
reference to the engraving. This disc is composed of a number of flat bony laminae, 
arranged parallel to each other in a manner resembling the common wooden window-blind, 
and capable of being raised or depressed at will. It is found by anatomical investigation 
that these laminae are formed by modifications of the spinous dorsal fin, the number of 
laminae corresponding to that of the spines. They are moved by a series of muscles set 
obliquely, and when the fish presses the soft edge of the disc against any smooth object 
and then depresses the laminae, a vacuum is formed, causing the fish to adhere tightly to 
the spot upon which the disc is placed. 

When the creature has once fixed itself it cannot be detached without much 
difficulty, and the only method of removing it without tearing the body or disc, is to slide 
it forwards in a direction corresponding with the set of the laminae. In the opposite 
direction it cannot be moved, and the fish, therefore, when adhering to a moving body, 
takes care to fix itself in such a manner that it cannot be washed off by the water through 
which it is drawn. Even after death, or when the disc is separated from the body, this 
curious organ can be applied to any smooth object, and will hold with tolerable firmness. 
In order to accommodate the disc, the upper part of the skull is flattened and rather 

The Sucking-fish will attach itself to many moving objects, and has been found 
adhering to the plankings of ships and boats, to turtles, to whales, and to fishes of various 
kinds. Even the albacore, which eats the Sucking-fish whenever it can catch it, is 
occasionally honoured by its adhesion, and in the British seas a specimen has been 
captured while sticking to a cod-fish. The shark, however, is its favourite companion, and 
it often happens that one of these voracious creatures is attended by quite a little train of 


Sucking-fishes. What object is fulfilled by this capability of adhesion, is a problem as 
yet unsolved. The Remora is perfectly organized and capable of procuring food for itself, 
and though not a swift swimmer, is able to proceed through the water with tolerable 
rapidity. Its mouth is moderately large, and that the creature has no difficulty in seeking 
a subsistence is proved by the fact that its stomach usually contains remnants of small 
Crustacea and molluscs. 

It is rather a voracious fish, and takes the hook eagerly if baited with a piece of raw 
flesh. When hooked, however, it is by no means secured, for as soon as it feels the prick 
of the sharp point and the pull of the line, it darts to the side of the vessel, dives deeply, and 
affixes itself so strongly to the bottom that the hook may be torn out of the mouth before 
the fish will relax its hold. It is, therefore, necessary to draw the Sucking-fish smartly 
out of the water as soon as it is fairly hooked, and in this manner great numbers can be 

SUCKING-FISH. Echeneis remoro. 

caught. The flesh is thought to be very good, and is said to resemble that of the eel, 
but without its richness. 

The colour of this species is dusky brown, darker on the back than on the abdomen. 
The fins are darker than the body, and are of a dense leathery consistence. The length 
of this fish seldom exceeds eight inches. 

THEEE are about ten species of Sucking-fishes known, of which the SHIELDED SUCKING- 
FISH (Echeneis scutdla) is perhaps the most remarkable. This species may be at once 
recognised by the very great size of the disc, and its length being nearly one-half that of 
the body. At the hinder portion of the disc the laminae are. wanting, and its surface is 
smooth. This species attains to considerable dimensions, a fine specimen in the British 
Museum being nearly two feet in length. 

THE well-known JOHN DOEY, so dear to epicures, is found in the British seas, and is 
frequently seen in the fishmongers' shops, where its peculiar shape seldom fails of attracting 
attention even from those who are not likely to purchase it or even to have seen it on 
the table. 

The name of John Dory is thought to be a corruption of the French namejaune doree, 
a title given to the fish on account of the gilded yellow which decorates its body. It was 
called Zeus by the ancients because they considered it to be the king of eatable fish ; and 
the name of Faber, or blacksmith, has probably been earned by the smoky tints which 
cloud its back. The dark and conspicuous spots on the side are thought in many places to 
be imprinted 011 the fish as a memorial of the honour conferred upon its ancestor in times 
past, when St. Peter took the tribute-money from the mouth of the Dory, and left the 

T 2 



print of liis finger and thumb as a perpetual remembrance of the event. Some persons, 
however, contend that the marks are due, not to St. Peter, but to St. Christopher ; and the 
Greeks, who hold to the latter tradition, call the fish Christophoron. 

It is a very voracious creature, feeding upon various marine animals and fishes of 
inferior size to itself. It will even catch and devour a cuttle-fish of great size in spite of 
the strength and agility of the prey, and is fond of following the shoals of pilchards for 
the purpose of feeding upon the young and weakly. In consequence of this habit, it is 
frequently captured in the same nets which are employed to take the pilchards. The flesh 
of the Dory is remarkably excellent, and as it is rather improved by the lapse of twenty-four 
hours after the fish has been taken from the sea, it is peculiarly valuable to those who live 
far inland, and cannot hope for the more delicate fishes, which must be eaten almost as 
soon as caught. Although a common fish, it always commands a high price, and as, when 
cooked, the head occupies so large a space, it never affords an economical dish. 

JOHN DORY. Zeus faber. 

The shape of the Dory is -very peculiar. The body is very deep, and greatly compressed. 
The head is oddly shaped, and the mouth can be protruded to a surprising extent. The 
spines of the first dorsal fin are much prolonged, and behind each ray is given off a very 
long waving filament, three times as long as the ray in front of it. Along the base of the 
dorsal and anal fins are arranged two rows of spiny scales, their points being directed 
backward, and one row being set at each side of the fin. 

The colour of this fish is very beautiful, especially if seen immediately after its removal 
from the water, when golden brown, olive, white, and azure are reflected from its surface 
in changing tints, that rapidly vanish after death. 

WE now come to a most beautiful and interesting fish, the COKYPHENE, so often 
erroneously spoken of as the dolphin. 

This splendid fish is found in many of the warmer seas, inhabiting the Mediterranean 
Sea, and the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. The reader has, in all probability heard 
the old story respecting the lovely and changeful colours of the dying dolphin, and is quite 




aware that in the shining black and grey skin of the true dolphin no such changes take 
place. There is, however, more truth than usual in this tale, for the dolphin in question 
is really the Coryphene, whose colours are always most brilliant, and glow with changeful 
beauty, during the death struggle. A similar phenomenon occurs in several other fishes, 
of which the common red mullet is a familiar example. 


The Coryphene is a most voracious creature, feeding chiefly upon the finny inhabitants 
of the water, and being especially celebrated for its attacks upon the flying-fish. Captain 
Basil Hall has given so graphic and so pleasing a description of one of their chases, that 
the narrative must be given in his own words. The reader will understand that whenever 
the word dolphin is employed by the author, the Coryphene is the species to whicli 
he alludes. 

" A large Dolphin, which had been keeping company with us abreast of the weather- 
gangway at the length of two or three fathoms, and as usual glistening most beautifully in 
the sun, no sooner detected our poor little friends take wing, than he turned his head 
towards them, and, darting to the surface, leaped from the water with a velocity little short, 
as it seemed, of a cannon ball But although 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 ill-fated prey had got, enabled them to keep ahead of him for a considerable 

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 forwards with considerably greater velocity than at first, and of course 
to a still greater distance. In this manner the merciless pursuer seemed to stride along 
the sea with fearful rapidity, while his brilliant coat sparkled and flashed in the sun quite 
splendidly. As he fell headlong on the water at the end of each huge leap, a series of 
circles were sent far over the still surface, which lay as smooth as a mirror. 

The group of wretched flying-fish, 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 
scarcely sunk in it ; at least they instantly set off again in a fresh and even more vigorous 
flight. It was -particularly interesting to observe that the direction they now took was 
quite different from the one in which they had set out, implying but too obviously that 
they had detected their fierce enemy, who was following them with giant steps across the 
waves and now gaining rapidly upon them. His terrific pace indeed, was two or three 
times as swift as theirs, poor little things. 

The greedy Dolphin, however, was fully as quick-sighted as the flying-fish which were 
trying to elude him, for whenever they varied their flight in the smallest degree, he lost 
not the tenth part of a second in shaping a new 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 their 
pursuer. But it was soon too 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 enormous leaps of the Dolphin appeared to grow 
more vigorous at each bound. 

Eventually we could see, or fancied that we could see, that this skilful sea-sportsman 
arranged all his springs with such an assurance of success, that he contrived to fall at the 
end of each, just under the very spot on which the exausted flying^fish were about to 
drop. Sometimes this catastrophe took place at too great a distance for us to see from the 
deck exactly what happened ; but on our mounting high into 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 afterwards." 

The Coryphene, however, often pays the penalty of its voracity, for, independently of 
the innate quality of destructiveness, which alone would induce the spectators to catch 
and kill the fish, the sailors are urged by the excellence of its flesh, which will afford 
them a welcome repast on fresh meat. They therefore bait a number of hooks in a very 
simple manner, by cutting some strips of glittering tin into the rude semblance of the 
flying-fish, attaching them to the hooks and dangling them in the air, where the indiscri- 
nating Coryphene seizes them and pays the penalty of its voracity. Sometimes the 
Coryphene is captured by a strong-armed and sure-eyed sailor, who gets on the bowsprit, 
so as to overhang the water, and hurling at the fish a kind of barbed trident, technically 
called the "grains," the barbed points strike deeply into the flesh, and the fish 

EYED PTERACLIS. Pteraclis ocell&tus. 

is triumphantly hauled on board by means of the rope affixed to the butt-end of 
the shaft. 

Such a chase as has just been described, seems to be of comparatively rare occurrence, 
and any one who has witnessed it may consider himself peculiarly fortunate. 

Words can hardly express the extreme beauty of the Coryphenes, as they play easily 
around the ship, their sides glittering in the sunbeams as if made of burnished gold and 
silver, and every change of attitude producing some new combination of colour. They 
have a curious habit of attaching themselves for a time to a passing ship, and are able, 
from their exceeding swiftness, to gambol around the vessel as if she were at anchor, no 
matter how swift her progress may be. Steam, however, is fatal to such observations, as 
the screw or paddles are so noisy that few fish venture within their sweep, and the water 
is so churned into whirling circles of froth and foam that even the glistening body of the 
Coryphene would be invisible below the disturbed surface. 

THE very remarkable fish which is shown in the accompanying illustration, is allied 
rather closely to the preceding species, in spite of the great difference in form, and by 
some writers was placed in the same genus as that fish. 



Tlie EYED PTEEACLTS is a good example of the curious genus to which it belongs, and 
which can always be recognised by the extreme depth of the dorsal and anal fins and 
their delicate tenuity of structure. The dorsal fin is moreover remarkable for the bold 
sweep of its extent, passing in an unbroken curve from the forehead to the tail. Owing 
to the development of the anal fin, the two ventrals are placed very far forward, and are 

seen under the throat. The mem- 
bers of this genus are spread over 
the Indian Ocean, the Sea of 
Marmora, and some of the Ameri- 
can coasts. 

The Eyed Pteraclis ia found 
on the Mozambique coast. It is 
a veiy beautiful fish, the general 
colour being shining white as if 
made of polished silver, with a 
wash of gold upon the pectoral 
and tail fins, and a deepish tint 
of blue-grey upon the others. On 
the dorsal fin there is a round 
spot of dark blue. It seems to 
be a small species. About four 
members of this genus are known 
to naturalists. 

BEFORE quitting this family, 
we must briefly notice the hand- 
some OPAH, or KING-FISH (Lam- 
m-is luna), which is sometimes, 
but rarely, found in the British 

This beautiful species seems 
to be the sole representative of its 
genus, it having been separated 
from the genus Zeus, in which it 
had formerly been placed, in con- 
sequence of its single dorsal fin. 
It sometimes attains to a con- 
siderable size, a specimen having 
been taken on the northern coast 
of England which measured five 
feet in total length, and weighed 
about one hundred and fifty pounds. 
The flesh of this fish is red, very 
good, and is said to resemble that 
of the salmon. 

The colour of the Opah is 

bright green on the upper part of the back and sides, with reflections of purple and gold 
in certain lights. The fins and eyes are scarlet, and a number of round spots of pale 
gold are scattered upon the sides. 

WE now arrive at a rather large family of fishes, which kis been separated from the 
mackarels on account of certain anatomical variations, which will be mentioned at the 
end of the volume. 

The CORDONNIER, or COBBLZE-FISH has derived its popular name from the long 
sharp spines of the dorsal and anal fins, which are thought to resemble the awl and 
bristles employed by cobblers in their trade. This fish is a good example of the large 



genus to which , it belongs, and in which no less than seventy species have been classed. 
It is found in various localities, from the Eed Sea throughout all the Indian seas, and is 
tolerably common. The form of this fish is sufficiently curious to render it a conspicuous 
species, and it may be easily distinguished from its many congeners by the oblong spot 
on the operculum, and the six black bauds that are drawn across the body and reach 
nearly to the abdomen. 

ANOTHER species of this genus is the BUDDER-FISH (Caranx carangus), so called 
because it is fond of hovering about the rudders of vessels, apparently for the sake of 
picking up the refuse food that is thrown overboard. It is rather a pretty fish, the 
general colour being silvery white and blue. The lateral line is covered, near the tail, 
with a row of spinous plates. It is rather remarkable that this fish, when hooked, emits 
a rather loud chattering kind of noise, thought to proceed from the passage of air 
through the gills. The flesh of the Rudder-fish is rather coarse, but is digestible and 
nourishing. Another fish (Pammelas perciformis), found in the seas of Northern 
America, is sometimes called by the name of Rudder-fish. 

CLOSELY allied to this fish is the well-known HORSE MACKAREL (Trachurus trachurus) 
of our own coasts, sometimes known by the popular name of SCAD. 

This species is common in the British seas, and occasionally appears in enormous 
shoals, almost rivalling in numbers those of the common mackarel, and crowding so closely 
against each other that they cannot escape if threatened by danger, and may be taken out 
of the sea by hand or dipped out in buckets. The flesh of the Horse Mackarel is rather 
coarse, and when fresh is held in very slight esteem. However, it readily takes salt, and 
is then much eaten, especially during the winter months. 

The colour of the Horse Mackarel is dusky olive on the upper part of the back, 
changing in certain lights to resplendent green, which descends down the sides, and is 
variegated by wavy bands of blue. The sides of the head and the abdomen are silvery 
white. The lateral line is furnished with a row of strong and deeply keeled bony plates, 
which give to the hinder part of the body a somewhat squared outline. 

THE well-known SWORD-FISH derives its popular name from the curious development 
of the snout, which projects forward, and is greatly prolonged, into a shape somewhat 
resembling a sword-blade. The "sword" is formed by the extension of certain bones 
belonging to the upper part of the head. 

This fine fish is found in the Mediterranean Sea, and also in the Atlantic Ocean, and 
in the former locality is often very plentiful. The Sicilian fishermen are accustomed to 
pursue the Sword-fish in boats, and mostly employ the harpoon in its capture. The weapon 
is not very heavy, and by a strong and practised hand can be hurled to some distance. 

The fishermen are accustomed to chant a kind of song, set to words which no one can 
understand, but which are supposed to be the more efficacious for their incomprehensibility. 
This song is thought by some writers to be a corruption of some old Greek verses, and the 
fishermen believe that the Sword-fish is so fond of this song that it follows the boat in which 
it is sung. They will not venture to speak one word of Italian, thinking that the Sword- 
fish would understand what they were saying, learn that they contemplated its death, and 
then dive and make its escape. No bait of any kind is employed, the unintelligible chant 
being thought to be far more efficacious than any material aid. 

The flesh of the Sword-fish is always eatable and nourishing, and in small specimens 
is white and well-flavoured. 

The use of the " sword " is not clearly ascertained. In all probability, the fish employs 
this curious weapon in gaining its subsistence, but the precise mode of so doing is not 
known. It is an ascertained fact that the Sword-fish will sometimes attack whales, and 
stab them deeply with its sharp beak ; and it is also known that this fish has several times 
driven its beak so deeply into a ship that the weapon has been broken off by the shock. 
In such cases, the blow is so severe, that the sailors have fancied that their vessel has 
struck upon a rock. Several museums possess examples of pierced planks and beams, but 


it is possible that the fish may have struck them by accident, and not in a deliberate 
charge. The Sword-fish generally go in pairs. 

The food of this creature is rather varied, consisting of cuttle-fish, especially the squid, 
and of small fishes, neither of which animals would in any way fall victims to the sword. 
It certainly has been said that the weapon is used for transfixing the flat fish as they lie 
on the bed of the sea, but this assertion does not appear to be worthy of credit. 

The young and adult specimens are very different from each other. In the young, the 
body is covered with projecting tubercles, which gradually disappear as it increases in 
size, and when it has attained the length of three feet, they are seldom to be seen. Those 
on the abdomen remain longer than the others. The dorsal fin extends in the young 
specimens from the back of the head to the root of the tail, but the membranes and spines 
of its centre are so extremely delicate, that they are soon rubbed away, and the adult 
specimen then appears to have two dorsal fins. 

The colour of the Sword-fish is bluish black above, and silvery white below. The 
whole body is rough, and the lateral line is almost invisible. The usual length of the 
Sword-fish is from ten to twelve feet, but specimens have been seen which much exceed 
those dimensions. A few examples of the Sword-fish have been captured in British 
waters ; one, that measured seven feet in length, was taken off Margate. 

THE very curious fish shown in the engraving is a representative of a genus of 
Sword-fishes that have been separated from the previous genus on account of the very 
great height of the dorsal fin. 

The SAILOR SWORD-FISH is sometimes called the FAN-FISH, or SAIL-FISH, and is said to 
possess the power of raising or lowering the enormous dorsal fin just as a lady opens or 
closes her fan. Sir J. Emerson Tennent mentions this fish in the following terms : 
" In the seas around Ceylon, Sword-fishes sometimes attain to the length of twenty feet, 
and are distinguished by the unusual height of the dorsal fin. Those both of the Atlantic 
and Mediterranean possess this fin in its full proportions only during the earlier stages of 
their growth. Its dimensions even then are much smaller than in the Indian species ; 

PURPLE-FINNED SAILOR-FISH. Hislioplumus immaaildtus. 

and it is a curious fact, that it gradually decreases as the fish approaches to maturity ; 
whereas in the seas around Ceylon, it retains its full size throughout the entire period of 
life. They raise it above the water whilst dashing along the surface in their rapid course, 
and there is no reason to doubt that it occasionally acts as a sail." 

In this genus the ventral fins are reduced to one, two, or three spines, which in the 
present species are two in number. The tail is very deeply forked, and the enormous 
dorsal fin is a uniform deep blue. 

WE now arrive at the large family of the Gobies, which include many curious fish, and 
of which the British coasts present many representatives. 

The BLACK GOBY, sometimes known as the BOCK-FISH, is a moderately common 
example of the enormous genus to which it belongs, and which contains more than a 
hundred and fifty authenticated species. The members of this genus may easily be 
recognised by the peculiar form of the ventral fins, which are united together so as to form 
a hollow disc, by which they can attach themselves to rocks or stones at pleasure. In 
fact, this disc, although differing in shape, acts on exactly the same principle as that of 
the sucking-fish. 

The Black Goby prefers the rocky to the sandy coasts, and may be found in the pools 
left by the retreating tide. Some naturalists deny that the disc is used for adhesion, but 
I have caught and kept many Gobies, and have frequently seen them sticking to the sides 
of the vessel in which they were confined. The adhesion was achieved with astonishing 
rapidity, and the little fish contrived to hold itself with wonderful tenacity. The surface 
of the Black Goby is very slippery, owing to the abundant mucous secretion which is 



poured from the appropriate glands, but after it has been in spirits for some time, the 
edges of the scales begin to project through the mucus, and are exceedingly rough to 
the touch. 

Several species of Goby inhabit the British shores, such as the POLEWIG, or SPOTTED 
GOBY (Gobius minutus), a rather pretty little fish, transparent golden grey, with a multitude 
of tiny black dots upon the back, and generaUy marked with some darkish blotches upon 

BLACK GOBY. Gdbius niger. 

the sides, and a black spot on the dorsal fin. The TWO-SPOT GOBY (Gobius Rutlien sparii) 
is another British species, and may be distinguished by the two deep brown spots on either 
side, one just above the root of the pectoral fin, and another on the side of the tail. 

In some places along the sea-coast, the Gobies are known by the popular appellation 
of Bull-routs, and are rather feared on account of the sharp bite which their strong jaws 
and pointed teeth can inflict upon the bare hand. 

The general colour of this fish is blackish brown above, changing to white along the 
abdomen and under the chin. The length of this species seldom exceeds five or six inches. 

THE pretty GEMMEOUS DRAGONET, FOX-FISH, SCULPIN, or GOWDIE, is another of the 
British fishes, and on account of its very remarkable shape, can easily be distinguished 
from any other species. 

It is not a very uncommon fish, and is captured either with the hook or in a net, the 
latter being the ordinary method of securing it. It is rather a voracious fish, and feeds 
chiefly on molluscs and marine worms. The flesh of this species is firm, white, and well 
flavoured, and in spite its small size the Dragonet repays the trouble taken in its capture. 
It generally remains near Ihe bottom of the sea, and does not often enter shallow water 
except when young, when it approaches the shore, and sometimes is taken in the net of 
the shrimper. 

It is a lovely fish, well deserving its name of Gemmeous Dragonet, as its scales glitter 
as if set with gems, and of Gowdie, or golden, on account of the gilded lustre of its exterior. 
The name of Dragonet is given to it on account of the dragon-like aspect of the body 
and fins. 

The colour of this beautiful fish is golden yellow of different shades, variegated with 
spots and streaks of sapphire upon the head and sides. The under surface is white. The 
first dorsal fin consists of four rays, the first being enormously lengthened, and reaching, if 


depressed, to the base of the tail. The succeeding rays rapidly diminish in length, the 
fourth being extremely short, barely an inch in length. The pectorals are rounded and 
triangular, the central ray being the largest. The length of the Gemmeous Dragonet is 
about ten or eleven inches. 

More than twenty species of Dragonets are known, spread over a very large portion of 
the globe, and inhabiting the temperate seas of the Old World, and the Indian Ocean from 

GEMMEOUS DRAGONET. Callionymus lyra. 

Mozambique to the Western Pacific islands. They are marine fishes, and inhabit the 
bottom of the sea at no great distance from the shore. 

WE now come to a very small, but curious family, termed Discoboli, or Quoit-fishes, 
because the spines of the ventral fins are modified into a flattened disc, something like the 
quoit of the ancients. This disc has a soft, leathery margin, and enables them to attach 
themselves to rocks or stones after the manner of the gobies. 

A very good British example of these curious fishes may be found in the LUMP-SUCKEK, 
otherwise called the LUMP- FISH, SEA-OWL, and COCK-PAIDLE, the latter name being given 
to it on account of the elevated ridge along the back, which is covered with a notched and 
tuberculated skin not unlike the comb of the cock. 

The sucker or disc of this fish is capable of very powerful adhesion, retaining its hold 
with such tenacity, that on one occasion, when a Lump-fish was placed in a pail containing 
several gallons of water, it immediately affixed itself to the bottom, and held so firmly, that 
when grasped by the tail and lifted, it raised the vessel in which it was placed, notwith- 
standing the combined weight of the water and pail. 

The Lump-fish is said to make a kind of home, and to hover about the spot where 
the eggs are placed, for the purpose of guarding them from foes. When thus engaged 
it is a brave and combative fish, permitting no other finny inhabitant of the water to pass 
within a certain distance of its charge, and, in cases of necessity, biting fiercely with its 
short but sharp teeth. It is said that after the young have attained some little size, 
they attach themselves to their careful parent, who conveys the young family into deep 

It is tolerably plentiful on the northern coasts of this country, and is frequently seen 
in the Scotch markets, where it holds a place only second to the turbot. The male is 
thought superior to the female, but is not so large. In the breeding season, the abdomen 


of the male fish assumes a blight red hue. It is a voracious creature, feeding mostly 
upon small fishes, molluscs, and crustaceans. 

When it is freshly taken from the sea, the colours of the fish are truly magnificent, 
and even when suspended in the shops of the London fishmonger, its brilliant hues 
never fail to excite the wonder and admiration of the spectators. Blue is the prevailing 
tint of the upper parts of the body, but it is varied with a thousand bold and withal 

LUMP-FISH. Cydoptenu lu 

delicate shades of indigo, sapphire, and amethystine purple. The under parts of the body 
and the fins are rich orange-yellow. This splendid colouring is seen to greatest perfection 
during the breeding season. 

The whole of the body is studded with little bony tubercles, which, when closely 
examined, are seen to be more or less star-shaped. Besides these little tubercles, there 
are four rows of larger and sharply pointed tubercles, one running along part of the back 
just behind the comb, two more along the sides, and another upon the abdomen. The 
dimensions of this fish are variable, but the average length is about sixteen inches. 

THERE are only two genera in this small family, and both find examples in the 
British seas. 

Of the second genus, the UNCTUOUS SUCKER or SEA-SNAIL (Lf,paris vulgaris] is a 
good illustration. 

This species is found on most of the English coasts, but appears to be less common in 
the south than in the north. It derives its names of Unctuous Sucker and Sea-Snail 
from the soft and slime-covered surface of its body. It seems to prefer the rocky coasts, 
find may be found in the water-pools at low tide. The colour of this fish is pale brown 
streaked irregularly with a darker tint. Both the dorsal and anal fins are low, long, and 
reach to the commencement of the tail fin. It is a little fish, seldom exceeding four or 
five inches in length. 

MONTAGUE'S SUCKER (Liparis Montagui) is remarkable for its habit of adhering to 
a stone or rock by the disc, and then curving its body to such an extent that the tail 
and the head almost meet. Even when merely lying at rest, and not employing the 
sucker, it assumes this remarkable attitude. It is smaller than the last species, rarely 
exceeding three inches in length. Its colour is rather dull orange above with bluish 
reflections, and white below. The fins are of a rather deep orange hue. 

TOAD-FISH. Batrachus gritnniens. 

FISHING-FROG. Ldphius piscatdrius. 

ANOTHER small family now comes before us, called the Batrachidse, or Frog-fishes, 
from the froggish aspect of the body and especially of the head. 

The TOAD-FISH is a very curious-looking creature, with its flattened and wide head, 
gaping mouth, and spacious gill-cover. All the members of this genus are carnivorous 
fishes, and are spread through the coasts of the tropical regions, where they are mostly 
found on the bottom and partially buried in the sand or mud in hope of surprising 
the active prey on which they feed. Some species, however, are found even in the 
temperate seas. 

The Toad-fish inhabits the East Indian seas, and has been taken at the mouth of the 
Ganges. Its colour is brown marked with a much darker tint, and the fins are streaked 
and blotched with similar colours. The body is without scales. 

The FISHING-FROG, ANGLER-FISH, or WIDE-GAB, is not unfrequent on the British 
coasts, and has long been famous for the habit from which it has derived its popular 

The first dorsal fin is almost wholly wanting, its place being occupied merely by three 
spines, movable by means of certain muscles. The manner in which these spines are 
connected with the body is truly marvellous. The first, which is furnished at its tip with 
a loose shining slip of membrane, is developed at its base into a ring, through which passes 
a staple of bone that proceeds from the head. The reader may obtain a very perfect idea 
of this beautiful piece of mechanism by taking a common iron skewer, slipping a staple 
through its ring and driving the staple into a board. It will be then seen that the 
skewer is capable of free motior. in every direction. 


The second spine is arranged after a somewhat similar fashion, but is only capable of 
being moved backwards and forwards. Fishing-Frogs are sometimes found in the shops, 
and the inquiring reader will find himself amply repaid if he purchases one of these 
fishes and dissects its head merely for the purpose of seeing the beautiful structure which 
has been briefly described. 

The use of these spines is no less remarkable than their form. 

The Fishing-Frog is not a rapid swimmer, and would have but little success if it were 
to chase the swift and active fishes on which it feeds. It, therefore, buries itself in the 
muddy sand, and continually waves the long filaments with their glittering tips. The 
neighbouring fish, following the instincts of their inquisitive nature, come to examine the 
curious object, and are suddenly snapped up in the wide jaws of their hidden foe. Many 
fishes can be attracted by any glittering object moved gently in the water, and it is well 
known by anglers how deadly a bait is formed of a spoon-shaped piece of polished metal, 
furnished with hooks, and drawn quickly through the water. 

It is a most voracious creature, and has on several occasions been known to seize a 
fish that had been hooked and was being drawn to the surface. In one such case, the 
Angler seized on a cod-fish, and held so tightly that it would not loosen its grip until 
struck on the head with a boat-hook. On another occasion the fish fell a victim to its 
over-voracity, for having dashed at a conger-eel, just hooked, and taken it into its mouth, 
the eel contrived to escape through one of the gill apertures, and thus was the uncon- 
scious means of involving its captor in its own fate. Even the cork-floats on lines and 
nets have been swallowed by the greedy fish, and when taken in a net, it devours its 
fellow-prisoners with perfect unconcern. 

It is impossible to mistake this fish for any other inhabitant of the ocean, its huge 
head wide, flattened, and toad-like its enormous and gaping mouth, with the rows of 
sharply-pointed teeth, its eyes set on the top of the head, and the three long spines, being 
signs which cannot be misunderstood. The general colour of this fish is brown above 
and white below ; the ventral and pectoral fins are nearly white, and that of the tail 
almost black. The throat, just within the jaws, is composed of loose skin, which forms 
a kind of bag. The average length of the adult Fishing-Frog is about a yard. 

The family in which this fish is placed may be distinguished by the peculiar structure 
of the pectoral fins, which are mounted on a sort of arm produced by an elongation of 
the carpal bones. From this peculiarity, the family is termed Pediculati, or foot- 
bearing fishes, as the prolonged fins enable them to walk along wet ground almost like 

THE very odd-looking creature, called the WALKING-FISH, which is shown in the 
accompanying illustration, is one of the strange and wild forms that sometimes occur in 
nature, and which are so entirely opposed to all preconceived ideas, that they appear 
rather to be the composition of human ingenuity than beings actually existing. The 
traveller who first discovered this remarkable fish would certainly have been disbelieved 
if he had contented himself with making a drawing of it, and had not satisfied the rigid 
scrutiny of scientific men by bringing home a preserved specimen. 

In the fishes of this genus, the carpal bones, i.e. those bones which represent the wrist 
in man, are very greatly lengthened, more so than in the preceding genus, and at their 
extremity are placed the pectoral fins, which are short, stiff, and powerful, the pointed 
rays resembling claws rather than fins. In all the fishes of this genus the body is much 
compressed and decidedly elevated ; but in the present species, these peculiarities are 
carried to an almost exaggerated extent. The first dorsal spine, with its membranous 
appendages, is placed as usual just above the snout, and the second ray is set immediately 
behind it. The third, however, is placed at a very great distance from the second, and 
forms part of the soft dorsal fin. 

Dr. Giinther remarks upon the fishes of this genus, that they are so extremely variable 
in form, colour, and the greater or less development of the dorsal spines, that hardly two 
specimens are found sufficiently alike to enable the systematic naturalist to decide upon 
their precise situation in the zoological scale. Moreover, their geographical range is 

WALKING-FISH. Antennariuj 

exceedingly wide, some species ranging over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans ; and the 
learned ichthyologist above mentioned is of opinion that many specimens which he has at 
present been compelled to admit into the list of separate species, will be ultimately found 
to be mere casual varieties. 

The colour of this species is yellow, diversified with many spots and streaks of brown, 
some of the streaks radiating from the eye, and others extending over the dorsal fin. It 
is a native of the Indian seas. 

THE important family of the Blennies comes next in order. They are all carnivorous 
fishes, many being extremely voracious, and are spread over the shores of every sea on 
the globe. They mostly reside on or near the bottom. 

The SEA WOLF, SEA CAT, or SWINE-FISH, is one of the fiercest and most formidable 
of the finny tribes that are found on our coast, and has well earned the popular names 
by which it is known. 

The Sea Wolf possesses a terrible armature of teeth, not only in the jaws, but arranged 
in a double band on the palate, and by means of these powerful weapons can crush 
with ease the hard-shelled molluscs and crustaceans on which it feeds. As may be seen 
from the engraving, the aspect of the Sea Wolf is far from prepossessing, its fierce head 
with the armed jaws, strong and cruel as those of the tiger or hysena, and the smooth, 
slime-covered skin, giving it a most repulsive aspect. 

Still, it is eaten in many places, especially when it is small, not more than two feet in 
length, and the flesh is said by competent judges to be decidedly excellent. In order to 
avoid disgusting the purchaser with its ugly looks, the head is mostly removed, and the 
skin stripped off before it is exposed for sale. The skin, though not handsome, has yet 
its uses, for it is strong, flexible, and durable, and is made into bags and pockets that 
require peculiar strength of fabric. 

The Sea Wolf is sometimes taken with the hook, but is mostly found entangled in the 

nets together with other fish, and in either case it struggles violently as soon as it 

perceives the loss of its liberty. It will tear the nets to pieces with its teeth, and when 

nauled out of the water, it still flounces about with such vigour, and bites at every object 

3. u 


with such ferocity, that the boatmen usually stun it by a blow on the head before lifting 
it into the vessel, a very heavy stroke being required for the purpose. 

The general colour of the Sea Wolf is brownish grey, with a series of brown vertical 
stripes and. spots over the upper parts ; the under parts are white. On our shores it 
attains a length of six or seven feet, but in the northern seas, where it thrives best, it 
greatly exceeds those dimensions. There is an American variety where the vertical 
streaks are modified into round spots of blackish brown. 

THE typical genus of this family is represented by several British specimens, of which 
the EYED BLENNY is one of the most conspicuous. 

This pretty fish is not very common, but has been taken on the southern coasts of 
England. From the elevated dorsal fin, and the bold dark brown spot that decorates it, 
this Blenny has sometimes been called the Butterfly-fish. In the Mediterranean it is 
tolerably common, and lives mostly among the seaweed, where it finds abundance of the 
smaller Crustacea and molluscs. 

The dorsal fin of this fish is very large, being greatly elevated and extending from 
the back of the head almost to the tail. The dark spot is placed between the sixth and 
eighth rays. The colour of the Eyed Blenny is pale brown, patched here and there with 
a darker tint. The dark spot on the fin is mostly edged with white or very pale yellow. 
The length of this fish is seldom more than three inches. 

SEVEKAL other British species of blenny are acknowledged, and some are very well 
known upon our coasts. 

The SHANNY, or SHAN (Btenmus pJiolis), is a tolerably common species, and its habits 
have been thus recorded by Mr. Couch : " Destitute of a swimming-bladder, this fish is 
confined to the bottom, where it takes up its residence on a rock or stone, from which it 
rarely wanders far, and beneath which it seeks shelter from ravenous fishes and birds ; for 
cormorants, with their long and sharp beaks, drag multitudes of them from their retreats, 
and devour them. When the tide is receding, many of these fishes hide beneath the 
stones or in pools, but the larger individuals quit the water, and by the use of the 
pectoral fins creep into convenient holes, rarely more than one in each, and there, with the 
head outward, they wait for a -few hours, until the return of the water restores them to 
liberty. If discovered or alarmed in their chambers, they retire by a backward motion 
to the bottom of the cavity. These circumstances show that the Shanny is retentive of 
life, in confirmation of which I have known it continue lively after a confinement of 
thirty hours in a dry box ; notwithstanding which, it soon expires in fresh water." 

This species is extremely variable in colour, some specimens being mottled with 
different shades of brown, and others of a uniform dusky tint. It may be recognised by 
the deep notch or slit in the middle of the dorsal fin, and the absence of appendages on 
the head. The length of this Shanny is about five inches. 

PASSING by the remaining blennies, all of which are very similar in habits and general 
appearance, we must pause for a short space to examine a very curious species belonging 
to the same family, called the JUMPEE-FISH (Saldrias triddctylus). 

-This odd little fish offers no remarkable beauties of colour or form, being of a simple 
dark brown, and without any salient points of external structure ; but it is possessed 
of a wonderful power of suddenly leaping out of the water, darting over the wet stones 
and rocks, and snapping up flies and other insects with the nimble agility of the 
lizard. It can scramble up a nearly perpendicular face of rock, and is so wary and 
agile, that on the least attempt to seize it, the little creature darts towards the sea and is 
nearly certain to make its escape. While engaged in this pursuit, the Jumper-fish 
adheres so tightly to the rock that it is not detached even by the shock of repeated waves. 
It is quite a little fish, not more than four inches in length. Its residence is in the seas 
of the East Indian Archipelago. At least fifty species of the Salarias are known to 

EYED BLENNY. Blennius ocelldris. 
VIVIPAROUS BLENNY. Zoarces vivipar 
SEA WOLF. Andrrhichas liiput. 

The BUTTER-FISH, SwoRDiCK, or SPOTTED GUNNEL (Centronotus gunellus), oeiongs to 
this family, and is evidently one of the transitional species between the true blennies and 
those which are placed at the end of the family. 

This fish is frequently captured upon our coasts, especially on the rocky shores, and is 
mostly found hidden under stones and seaweeds in the rock-pools left by the receding 
tide. The name of Butter-fish is very appropriate, and is given to it on account of the 
plentiful mucous secretion which is poured over its body, and which renders it so slippery 
that it can with difficulty be retained in the hand. It is quick and agile in its movements, 
and even if confined within the limits of the rocky pool, is not easily captured. 

The body of this fish is much elongated and somewhat eel-shaped, the head is small, 
the muzzle blunt, and the dorsal fin is low and long, extending the whole length of the 
back. The ventral fins are very small. The colour of the Swordick is brown, in some 
specimens with a purple and in others with a golden wash. Along the base of the dorsal 
fin, and in some individuals upon the fin itself, are a number of bold black spots each 
with a white streak on either side. A dark brown stripe is also drawn from the eye to 
the lower jaw. The length of the Butter-fish is about six inches. 


OUB last example of this family is the well-known VIVIPAROUS BLENNY, called also 
by the popular names of EEL-POUT, LUMPER, GUFFER, and GREENBONE, the last-mentioned 
title being given to it because, when boiled, the bones have a green hue. 

As its name imports, the Viviparous Blenny lays no spawn, but produces its young 
alive, and able to shift for themselves. In one case, where a female fish of about fifteen 
inches in length was taken, the young were about four inches long. It is a very curious 
fact, that the size of the new-born young seems to depend upon that of their parent, the 
offspring of a Blenny of seven inches in length measuring only one inch and a half. 

The flesh of this fish is tolerably good, but is not in very great repute, so that it is 
but seldom to be seen in the markets. According to the most careful observations, it 
appears to be less common in the south than in the north of England, and while it is 
plentiful on the Yorkshire coasts, is scarcely to be found upon those of Devonshire. In 
such cases, however, the apparent discrepancy is often attributable to the differing abilities 
of the observers, and not to the absolute abundance or scarcity of the species. It 
generally hides itself under stones or seaweed, preferring the large heavy algoe called tang. 

The body of this fish tapers gradually from the shoulders to the tail, in thickness as 
well as in depth, and when examined with a pocket magnifier, the surface appears to be 
studded with circular depressions. Its general colour is pale brown, and its length varies 
between six and sixteen inches. 

PASSING by several small families, we come to a very curious fish, denominated the 
KIBAND-SHAPED VAAGMAR, sometimes called the DEAL-FISH (Trachypterus drcticus). 

This singular fish is remarkable for the extreme compression of the body, a specimen 
three feet in length not being thicker than an ivory paper-knife. The dorsal fin of this 
fish extends completely along the back, there is no anal fin, and the tail fin stands boldly 
erect, like the closed tail-feathers of a fan-tail pigeon. The general colour of the Vaagmar 
is silvery white, and the body is covered with very small scales. The dorsal fin is bright 
orange, sometimes being of a blood red, and the tail fin is of the same hue. On each side 
are two oval spots of blackish grey, set obliquely on the body. The length of this fish 
often reaches six feet. 

It is one of the northern fishes, and is very seldom seen on our coasts. 

A SPECIES even still more remarkable is, on very rare occasions, obtained on our 
coasts, but owing to the extreme fragility of its structure it is mostly deficient in some 
of its parts. 

The OARED GYMNETRUS, or EIBBON-FISH (Regalecus Banksii), is also greatly compressed 
throughout its length, and is equally delicate with the last-mentioned species. It is 
chiefly notable for the very odd structure of the ventral fins, which are reduced to long 
slender filaments, much resembling in shape the long tail-feathers of the racket-tail 
humming-bird. This fish sometimes attains very great dimensions, a specimen in the 
British Museum measuring twelve feet in length. Its colour is silvery grey, mottled with 
dusky spots of varying depth, which are most conspicuous towards the head. The whole 
surface of the skin is plentifully studded with bony tubercles, and on the line of the 
abdomen each tubercle is furnished with a hooked point directed backwards. Along the 
lateral line runs a row of elongated flat scales. 

IN the next family, the tail is mostly armed with one or more bony spines or plates, 
small in the young, but increasing in size with the dimensions of the fish. 

The SEA SURGEON is a good type of these fishes, and derives its popular name from 
the sharply pointed and keen-edged spine on the side of the tail, which cuts and wounds 
like a surgeon's lancet. The generic name signifying Thorn-tail is given to it in con- 
sequence of this structure. This species is found on the Atlantic coasts of Tropical 
America and Africa, and is tolerably plentiful in the Caribbean seas. The scales of this 
fish are very small, and the single spine on each side of the tail is movable and set in a 
longitudinal groove. Its food is of a vegetable nature. 

In colour it is rather variable, but the ground tint is usually of a brownish hue, and 
the operculum has a black edge. In some specimens the end of the tail is marked with * 


white band, which encroaches on part of the tail fin, and there is also a narrow white edge 
to that fin. There are in certain individuals a few darkish streaks drawn across the body, 
some black longitudinal stripes on the dorsal and anal fins, and in the young the sides are 

SEA SURGEON. Acantkurus 

marked with darkish waving lines. This fish sometimes attains a rather large size, a 
specimen in the British Museum being nineteen inches in length. The genus is rather 
comprehensive, containing between forty and fifty known species. 

NEARLY allied to the surgeon-fish is a very curious species, called the UNICORN THORN- 
TAIL (Naseus unicornis], on account of the singular structure of the forehead, which is 
modified in front into a long and horn-like protuberance, rather conical in shape, and 
projecting forwards in a line with the body. This horn is not to be seen in the young fish, 
and only attains its full dimensions when its owner has reached adult age. Sometimes the 
horn is longer than the snout, but in most specimens it is slightly shorter. Each side of 
the tail is furnished with two lancet-bearing plates, which are not movable. 

This species is found from the Red Sea to Japan and Polynesia. Its colour is brownish 
grey, and the dorsal and anal fins are marked with longitudinal blue stripes. The largest 
specimen in the British Museum measures twenty-two inches in length, and its horn is 
three inches long. 

THE extraordinary fish, called, from its habits, the CLIMBING PERCH, is a native of Asia, 
and is remarkable for its apparent disregard of certain natural laws. 

This singular creature has long been celebrated for its powers of voluntarily leaving 
the failing streams, ascending the banks, and proceeding over dry land towards some 
spot where its unerring instinct warns it that water is yet to be found. There are several 
fish which are known to have this power; the common eel of England, for example, which 
has frequently been observed crossing the fields in its passage from one stream to another. 
I have even seen the eels creeping over rocks, and contriving, in some mysterious manner, 
to crawl along the flat horizontal surface of an overhanging rock as easily as a fly walks on 
the ceiling. But I believe that the eel only passes over moist ground, whereas the Anabas 
seems quite indifferent to such considerations, and takes its journey over hard, dry, and 
dusty roads, heated with the burning beams of the noonday sun, without appearing to feel 
much inconvenience from the strange nature of the transit. 

Several species, of which the Anabas Scandens has been chosen as the best example, 


possess this singular property of walking over dry ground, so that the old proverb of a fiah 
out of water is, in these cases, quite inapplicable. Several instances of this remarkable 
propensity have been collected by Sir J. Emerson Tennent, and have been inserted in his 
valuable work on the Natural History of Ceylon. The following account is written by 
Mr. Morris, the Government agent in Trincomalee : 

" I was lately on duty inspecting the bund of a large tank at Nade-cadua, which 
being out of repair, the remaining water was confined in a small hollow in the otherwise 
dry bed. Whilst there, heavy rains came on, and as we stood on the high ground, we 
observed a pelican on the margin of the shallow pool gorging himself : our people went 
towards him, and raised a cry of Fish ! fish ! We hurried down, and found numbers of fish 
struggling upward through the grass, in the rills formed by the trickling of the rain. There 
was scarcely water to cover them, but nevertheless they made rapid progress up the bank, 
on which our followers collected about two baskets of them at a distance of about forty 
yards from the tank. They were forcing their way up the knoll, and had they not been 
interrupted first by the pelican and afterwards by ourselves, they would in a few minutes 
have gained the highest point, and descended on the other side into a pool which formed 
another portion of the tank. 

... As the tanks dry up, the fish congregate in the little pools, till at last you find 
them in thousands in the moistest parts of the beds, rolling in the blue mud, which is at 
that time about the consistence of thick gruel. 

As the moisture further evaporates, the surface fish are left uncovered, and they crawl 
away in search of fresh pools. In one place I saw hundreds diverging in every direction 
from the tank they had just abandoned, to a distance of fifty or sixty yards, and still 
travelling onwards. In going this distance, however, they must have used muscular 
exertion enough to have taken them half a mile on level ground, for at these places all the 
cattle and wild animals of the neighbourhood had latterly come to drink, so that the 
surface was everywhere indented with footmarks in addition to the cracks in the sur- 
rounding baked mud, into which the fish tumbled in their progress. In those holes which 
were deep, and the sides perpendicular, they remained to die, and were carried off by kites 
and crows. 


My impression is, that this migration must take place at night or before sunrise, for it 
was only early in the morning that I have seen them progressing, and I found that those 
I brought away with me in the chatties appeared quiet by day, but a large proportion 
managed to get out of the chatties by night some escaped altogether, others were trodden 
on and killed. 

One peculiarity is the large size of the vertebral column, quite disproportioned to the 
bulk of the fish. I particularly noticed that all in the act of migrating had their gills 

It is known of the Climbing Perch that the fishermen of the Ganges, who subsist 
largely on these fishes, are accustomed to put them into an earthen pan or chatty as soon 
as caught ; and although no water is supplied to them, they exist very well without it, and 
live this strange life for five or six days. 

On opening the head of this fish, the curious structure which enables it to perform such 
marvellous feats is clearly seen. Just within the sides of the head, the " pharyngeal " 
bones, i.e. the bones that support the orifice between the mouth and gullet, are much 
enlarged, and modified into a series of labyrinthine cells and duplications, so that they 
retain a large amount of water in the interstices, and prevent the gill-membranes from 
becoming dry. Some writers say that this fish is capable of climbing up the rough stems 
of palm-trees, in search of the water that lodges between the bases of the dead leaves and 
the stem, but this account is now held unworthy of belief. In the Tamoule language it 
is called Paneiri, or Tree-climber. 

THE small genus Atherinidse has a British representative in the SAND SMELT (Atherina 
presbyter), a pretty little fish, and one that is of great use to fishermen, both for sale and 
for bait. 

It is extremely plentiful upon the southern coast, .and in many places is sold as 
the true smelt, which it somewhat resembles in flavour and the peculiar odour as of 
cucumber. Owing to the small size of this fish the net is the usual mode of capture, 
the fashion of which varies according to the locality. On some coasts the net is about 
ninety feet in length and eighteen in depth, and is drawn along the sands by the united 
aid of one party in a boat and the other on the shore. In other places, however, it 
is circular and supported on an iron hoop. It is then baited with broken Crustacea and 
lowered into the water. At intervals it is raised smartly to the surface, and the 
entrapped Sand Smelts removed. 

The colour of the Sand Smelt is the palest pink, diversified with a broad belt of 
shining silvery white, which is drawn along the side. The cheeks, gill-covers, and the 
base of each pectoral fin are of the same white hue. Upon the upper part of the back 
and head are a great number of little black spots. The length of the fish is from six to 
seven inches. 

WE now come to the important family of the Mugilidse, of which the common GREY 
MULLET is a good example. In all these fish there are two dorsal fins, the first having 
four stiff spines. They are spread over all sea-coasts and fresh waters of the temperate 
and tropical regions. The mode of feeding is rather curious. These fish live chiefly on 
the soft organic substances that are found mixed with weed and sand, and in swallowing 
the food a considerable amount of sand is taken into the mouth. The fish, however, 
is furnished with a kind of self-filtering apparatus, by means of which the heterogeneous 
mass is raked and sifted, as it were, and the indigestible portions rejected. 

The Grey Mullet deserves notice as being one of the most daring and ingenious of 
the finny race, and is, in fact, a very fox for artfulness. The idea of constraint is most 
obnoxious to it, and its instincts of freedom are so strongly developed that it endeavours to 
recover its liberty in the most extraordinary ways. 

If, for example, it has been inclosed in a net, it will at once dart to the side and tiy 
to leap over the head-rope into the open sea. Moreover, if one fish succeeds in the 
attempt, the remainder immediately follow their leader, like a flock of sheep jumping 
over a hurdle. If the net is raised so high that the leap is impracticable, the fish tries to 


GREY MULLET Mugil cApito. 

creep under it ; and if that mode of escape be cut off, it examines every mesh, in hopes 
of finding some defective spot through which it may insinuate itself. Mr. Couch 
mentions that he has seen a Grey Mullet, after trying all other modes of escape, 
deliberately retire to the greatest possible distance from the wall of net, and then dash 
furiously at the meshes, as if to break through them. 

It likes a frequent change from salt to fresh water, and often proceeds up rivers 
to some little distance, returning, however, with the tide. It has even been taken from 
the sea and placed in a fresh-water pond, where it has grown well and obtained a great 
weight in proportion to its length. "While feeding, it may be seen rooting in the mud in 
a very swine-like fashion ; and can mostly be captured by using a bait composed of 
boiled meat or vegetables. It is, however, not easily hooked, as its peculiar mode of 
feeding causes it to detect the hard hook and to keep it so slightly within the mouth that 
the lip only is caught, and will mostly yield to the struggles of the fish. The fly, 
however, is often used successfully ; and it is found that the Grey Mullet will bite even 
at the greac gaudy salmon-flies, so large and so unlike any fly of any climate that they 
would hardly be thought capable of deceiving a mole. 

The colour of the Grey Mullet is bluish grey above, and the sides and abdomen are 
white with a silvery lustre, and traversed with several longitudinal lines of darkish grey. 
There is a dark spot towards the base of the pectoral fin. 

The genus Mugil is very large, containing between sixty and seventy species, several 
of which are found in British waters. 

THE fishes belonging to the family of the Ophiocephalidae, or snake-headed fishes, are 
able to leave the water for a time and to crawl upon land, deriving their power from a 
curious structure of the breathing organs. It has already been stated that a fish 
can breathe as long as the delicate membranes of the gills are wet ; and that in those 
fishes which are able to live out of water for any length of time, a peculiar modification 
of the breathing organs is requisite in order to supply the needful moisture. In the 
family to which the climbing perch belongs, a series of thin laminated plates are 


arranged in a cavity above the gills, thus retaining a sufficient supply of water between 
the laminae. In the present genus, however, there are none of these laminae, but the 
water is retained in a simple cavity which communicates with the gills. 

Of this family, the CORA-MOTA, or GACHUA (OphiocSphalus gachua), is a good 

This fish is a native of the fresh waters of Eastern India and its archipelago, and in 
its general shape and movements is so very snake-like that Europeans will seldom eat it. 
The Cora-mota is common in the ponds and dykes of Bengal ; and is one of the fish 
popularly supposed to be rained from the clouds, as it is generally to be found on 
the grass after a heavy shower. However this may be in other instances, it is tolerably 
clear that the Cora-mota has been in concealment during the drought, and ventures into 
the fresh wet grass as a welcome change from the muddy ditches in which it has 
been forced to reside. It can also find a plentiful supply of food on the moist herbage ; 
and as on account of its peculiar formation it is able to move on land with considerable 
ease, its migrations will often extend to considerable distances. 

The Cora-mota is remarkably tenacious of life, and can survive the severest wounds 
for a wonderfully long period. The natives of India take advantage of this peculiarity, 
and with the disregard of inflicting torture that seems to be inherent in the Oriental 
mind, are in the habit of selling the fish piecemeal, and cutting it up for sale while still 
living. Indeed, the habitues of the market will not pay the best price if the fish does 
not flinch from the knife. 

The colour of this species is brown crossed with several dark bars. Its length seldom 
exceeds a foot. 

ANOTHEK species of this genus, the BARCA (OpJiiocephalus barca), is a much hand- 
somer fish, attains a considerable size, and is considered to be useful for the table. This 
fish is one of the mud-lovers, living for the most part in holes excavated in the banks of 
Indian rivers, and only putting out its head in search of prey. 

The colour of this species is violet spotted profusely with black, and the fins are 
marked with sundry bold bars and dots. In length it often attains three feet. 

THE remarkable BAND-FISH, or SNAKE-FISH (Cupola rubescens), is a British example 
of a curious family, consisting of one genus only, and about seven species. 

The Band-fish is not uncommon in the Mediterranean, though it is seldom taken off 
the English coasts. Its body is long and much compressed, like that of the vaagmar, 
already described ; and when winding its way through the translucent water, its carmine 
body with the glittering scaly mail have earned for it the popular names of FIRE-FLAME 

Little is known of its habits, except that it is a shore-loving fish, delighting to bask 
under the heavy masses of sheltering seaweed, and that it feeds mostly on molluscs and 
Crustacea. Several specimens of this fish have been found on the beach after a storm ; 
and Mr. Yarrell remarks, with some acumen, that all the fish formed after this pattern, 
with their compressed bodies affording little resistance to the water, and their length 
preventing the concentration of muscular force upon a single centre of motion, are 
ill fitted for combating tempestuous waters, and are flung about at the mercy of the 

The head of the Band-fish is small, and the eye is fall and very large, its diameter 
being nearly half the depth of the hsad. The body is greatly compressed, slender, and 
very smooth ; the scales being minute and glittering in the sunbeams. The dorsal fin 
extends from the top of the head to the end of the tail, and the anal fin is nearly as long. 
Its colour is rather variable, shades of purple and orange exhibiting themselves in 
certain specimens. In all examples, however, red is the predominant hue. The length 
of the adult Band-fish is usually about fifteen or twenty inches. 

IN the curious species which belong to the genus Centriscidse, or spike-bearing fishes, 
the body is much compressed, and one of the spines of the first dorsal fin is long, sharp, 
and powerful. The bones which form the front of the head are greatly prolonged, and 


are modified into a kind of long tube, at the end of which is placed the narrow mouth. 
It is thought that the fish obtains its food by sucking it along the tube, the needful 
vacuum being formed by the dilatation of the throat. 

The BELLOWS-FISH, sometimes called the TEUMPET-FISH and the SEA SNIPE, is most 
common in the Mediterranean, though a few casual specimens have been taken off the 
British islands. It prefers to reside in moderately deep water, and is mostly found where 
the bottom of the sea is muddy. Its food is not precisely known, but is thought to 
consist of minute marine animals. The first spine of the dorsal fin is enormously large, 
strong, sharply pointed, and armed on its under surface with a row of saw-like teeth, that 

BELLOWS-FISH. -Centriscus scoloi>ax. 

must render it a very efficient weapon of offence. This spine is also movable. The 
flesh of this fish is eatable ; but as the head occupies so large a portion, the amount of 
flesh is rather small when compared with the size of the fish. 

When adult, the colour of the Bellows-fish is bright red on the back, becoming 
lighter on the sides, and changing to silvery white and golden yellow on the abdomen. 
The sides of the head are of the same colour as the abdomen. When young, the red of 
the back and sides is not visible, and the whole body glitters with a silvery lustre. It is 
not a large fish. 

THE family which now comes before our notice is in many ways remarkable, and 
deserves some little attention before proceeding to the remaining fishes. 

In the Fistularidae the snout is greatly prolonged, as in the preceding family, and 
bears the mouth at the end of a bony tube. The body, however, is extremely long and 
snake-like, and there is no long spine to the dorsal fin. There are only two genera 
in this family, the one being covered with scales, and the other destitute of those 

The TOBACCO-PIPE FISH is found in several parts of the tropical Atlantic, and is 
notable for its very peculiar form. The body is without scales, and the tail fin is deeply 
forked, the two central rays being sometimes united and prolonged into a lengthened 
filament, and at others separate, but still elongated. The outer edge of the tube is either 
smooth, or very slightly notched. The colour of this fish is greenish olive, and the upper 
parts of the body are marked with blue streaks and spots. In some specimens the back 
takes a reddish brown hue. 



THERE is a curious family of fishes, termed the Mastacembelidae, in which the body is 
long and eel-like, covered with little scales, and remarkable for the odd-looking snout and 

In these strange-looking fishes, of which the SPOTTED MASTACEMBELUS (Mastacemlelus 
maculdtus) is a good example, the dorsal fin is very long, its front portion consisting of a 
number of short free spines. The anal fin is also furnished with similar spines, and the 
ventral fins are altogether wanting. The gill-openings are reduced to a narrow slit, and 
the movable appendage of the upper jaw is smooth on its under side. The jaws are 
furnished with minute teeth, and the lower jaw is but slightly movable. In all the 

TOBACCO-PIPE FISH. Fistuldria tabaccario. 

species of this genus, with the exception of the Spotted Mastacembelus, the prseoperculurn 
is armed at its angle with small teeth. 

This species is found in the fresh waters of Java and Sumatra. The dorsal fin joins 
that of the tail, which is again joined by the long anal fin. The colour of the fish is brown, 
diversified with darker blotches, and the fins are edged with yellow. 

THE Flat Fishes, as they are popularly called, or the Pleuronectidse, as they are named 
scientifically, are among the most remarkable of the finny tribe. The latter name is of 
Greek origin, and signifies side-swimmer, in allusion to the mode of progression usually 
adopted by these fishes. 

The popular but erroneous idea of these creatures is, that their bodies are flattened so 
that the abdomen rests on the ground and the back remains uppermost ; but a brief 
examination suffices to show that the form of these fishes is really compressed, so that 
when a turbot or a sole is placed on the ground, it lies upon one side or the other. 
Though varying in colour, it is found that the upper side is always of a dark tint, 
the under side being quite if not wholly white. This arrangement is most useful 
in guarding them against the attacks of enemies, their flat dark upper surface bearing so 
great a resemblance to the sand on which they love to creep, that they can scarcely be 
distinguished, even when the eye is directed towards them. 

While at their ease, they slide themselves over the bed of the sea in a kind of creeping 
fashion, and have an odd custom of lying with the head raised in a manner that 
irresistibly reminds the observer of the cobra. If alarmed, they start at once into the 
vertical position usually assumed by fishes, and dash off with astonishing speed. As they 
swim, the flat fishes undulate through the water in a most graceful manner, and it is very 

-Xulea imlynris 

interesting to watch one of the common flat fishes, such as the plaice or the sole, swim with 
serpentine ease and elegance, and then suffer itself to sink slowly to the bottom, where it 
sits, with raised head and watchful eyes. 

It is evident that if the eyes of the flat fishes were placed in the manner customary 
among the finny race, one eye would be rendered useless as long as the fish was lying 
upon its side. This difficulty is therefore met by a most extraordinary modification of 
the bones of the head, by which means both the eyes are brought to that side which 
remains uppermost, and are thereby enabled to command a wide view around. There 
have been one or two instances where the eyes have been placed one on each side, but 
these may be considered as simple variations from the ordinary rule. 

The COMMON SOLE is one of the most familiar of our British flat fishes, and is found on 
.all our coasts, those of the southern shores being the most plentiful, and attaining the 
largest dimensions. 

The Sole can be taken by the line, but the fishermen always use the trawl-net, a kind 
of huge dredge, with a mouth that often exceeds thirty feet in width. As these nets are 
drawn along the bed of the sea, the great beam which edges the mouth scrapes the mud 
and sand, and alarms the fish to such an extent that they dash wildly about, and mostly 
dart into the net, whence they never escape. Vast numbers of Soles are taken by this 
method of fishing, and as the trawls bring to the surface enormous quantities of crustaceans, 
molluscs, zoophytes, and other marine inhabitants, the energetic naturalist cannot employ 
his time better than in taking a sail in one of these boats, and enduring a few hours' 
inconvenience for the sake of the rich harvest which he is sure to reap. Some of the rarest 
and most valuable British animals have been taken in the trawl-nets. 

The Sole is in condition throughout the greater part of the year, the only time when 
it is not worth eating being from the end of February to the last week in March, when the 
fishes are full of roe, and the flesh is rather soft and watery. It is a hardy fish, and can 
?oon be acclimatized to live in fresh water ; and it is said that under such circumstances 
the fish can be readily fattened, and becomes nearly twice as thick as when bred in the 



sea. Sometimes the Soles venture into the mouths of rivers, passing about four or five 
miles into the fresh water, and depositing their multitudinous eggs in such localities. 

The colour of the Sole is almost always brown on the right side and white on the left, 
but examples of reversed Soles are not uncommon, where the left side is brown and the 
other is white. The scales are small, and give a rough, rasp-like sensation to the hand. 
The dimensions of this fish are very variable, an average specimen weighing about a pound 
or eighteen ounces. Much larger examples, however, occur occasionally, and Mr. Yarrell 
mentions one instance where a Sole measured twenty-six inches in length, eleven and a 
half inches in width, and weighed nine pounds. 

ZEB11A SOLE. Solea zebnnn. 

The ZEBRA SOLE is a native of Japanese waters, and is remarkable for the waving dark 
streaks with which its body is covered, and which bear a great resemblance to the stripes 
upon the zebra's hide. In habits it appears to resemble the common species. 

SEVEEAL species of Sole are found upon the British coast. The LEMON SOLE, or FRENCH 
SOLE (Solea pegusa), derives the former of these titles from the lemon-yellow colour 
of its upper surface, and the latter from the localities in which it is most commonly found. 
It is found generally about sixteen miles off our coasts. The colour of this fish is orange, 
mixed with light brown, and mottled with little round spots of wood-brown. It is wider 
in proportion to its length than the common Sole. Another species, the VARIEGATED SOLE 
(Solea variegata), is sometimes, though rarely, taken off our shores. It may be known by 
the reddish brown colour, clouded with dark brown. The body is rather thick in proportion 
to its length. 

The last British species is the SOLENETTE, or LITTLE SOLE (Monochtrus lingudtulus), a 
small species, seldom more than five inches long, and of a reddish brown colour, without 

PERHAPS the most remarkable of these fishes is the TRANSPARENT SOLE (Achirus 

This rare and interesting fish is a native of the Pacific Ocean, and is notable for the 
extreme pellucidity of its body, which is so marvellously transparent, that when swimming 
in a vase of water, or lying on the bottom, the algse or stones can be distinctly seen through 


its structures. It is quite colourless, except a very slender and very delicate pink streak 
on the edge of the back, and several similar lines upon the sides ; the perfect but glass- 
like skeleton is hardly to be detected, and even the viscera are almost invisible. It is a 
very little fish, appearing not to exceed two inches in length ; but its width is propor- 
tionately great, so that the fish assumes a nearly circular form. The eyes are silvery white, 
and the pectoral fins are wholly absent. 

THE well-known TUEBOT, so widely and so worthily celebrated for the firm delicacy of 
its flesh, inhabits many of the European coasts, and is found in tolerable abundance off our 
own shores. Like all flat fishes, it mostly haunts the sandy bed of the sea, but will 
sometimes swim boldly to the surface of the water. It is a restless and wandering fish, 
traversing considerable distances as it feeds, and generally moving in small companies. 

Two modes of catching the Turbot are employed by fishermen, namely, the trawl-net 
and the long line. As long as the fish remain on the banks, or tolerably near the shore, 
the net is used, and in its capacious mouth is taken a strange medley of fishes, among 
which the Turbot is generally plentiful 

Should, however, the Turbot retire into deep water, or should the weather be too rough 
for the management of the net, the fishermen employ the line for its capture. The Turbot 
is gifted by nature with a fine and discriminating appetite, and voracious as it is, it refuses 
to touch any bait that is not quite fresh, and is said to reject it if any other fish has even 
bitten it. Certain small fishes are in great repute, especially those which glitter with a 
silvery lustre. Formerly the lampern of the rivers was extensively used as bait, as its 
skin is smooth and shiny, and it can be kept alive for a considerable time. The atherine, 
sea scorpion, and father-lasher are now, however, the principal favourites with the 
fishermen. The Turbot feeds upon molluscs and crustaceans besides fish. 

The Turbot is known in Scotland by the title of BANNOCK FLEUK, or SPAWN FLEUK, 
the former name being given to it on account of its flat shape, which resembles a bannock 
or oatcake, and the latter because it is thought to be at the best while in roe. After 
spawning, i. e. about August, its flesh loses its peculiar firmness, but in a very short time 
the fish regains its condition. 

The colour of the Turbot is brown of different shades on one side, usually the left, and 
the whole of that side is spotted with little round bony tubercles, which may be found in 
the skin after boiling. The size of this fish is extremely variable. The average weight is 
six or seven pounds, but Turbots are often taken of far greater dimensions. The largest 
specimen of which an authentic notice is preserved, was taken near Plymouth in the 
year 1730, and weighed seventy pounds. 

ANOTHER flat fish, the BRILL (Pleuronectes rJwmbus), called in Scotland the BONNET 
FLEUK, and in Devonshire and Cornwall known by the names of KITE and BEETT, is held 
in much estimation for the sake of its flesh, which is but little inferior to that of the 
turbot, and is, indeed, sometimes fraudulently substituted for that fish. The Brill resembles 
the turbot in food and habits as well as in appearance, but does not attain the same 
dimensions, seldom exceeding seven or eight pounds in weight. The skin of the dark side 
is devoid of the bony tubercles which are found in the turbot. Its colour is reddish brown, 
mottled with a darker tint of the same colour, and variegated with numerous round white 
spots of a pearly lustre. On account of these spots the Brill is sometimes called the 
PEAEL. When young, the pale reddish brown is covered with spots of black or very 
dark brown. 

PASSING by the two species of Topknots, we come to the PLAICE, so well known by the 
bright red spots which are scattered over its dark side. 

This is one of the commonest of the British flat fishes, and, happily for the poor, is 
taken in such quantities that it supplies nutritious aliment at a very low rate of purchase. 
It is taken chiefly with the trawl-net, but can be captured with the line, as it "bites freely 
at a bait, generally the common lugworm, and is one of the fish that is most usually caught 
by amateur sea-fishers. Even the shrimpers take large quantities of small Plaice in their 

TUHBOT. Pleur-oneetts mdxlmus. 

PLAICE. Plewonectes platrssn. 

FLOUNDER. I'leuroucctes Hesv. 

nets; and along the coast this fish is so numerous, that at low water it may be seen in great 
numbers darting over the sandy flats, the white surface glittering in the light as the little 
creatures dash wildly along in their terror of the approaching enemy. 

I have caught numbers of Plaice, some measuring six or seven inches in length, by 
merely wading into the muddy sand, holding them down with the feet, and picking them out 
with the hands. Their terrified wriggle is easily felt by the bare feet, as the fishes find 
themselves pressed into the sand whither they had fled for refuge, and by a little dexterous 
management they may be captured by inserting the fingers under the foot, and seizing 
them firmly across the body. 

The colour of the Plaice is light brown, variegated with a number of bright red spots 
upon the body and the dorsal and anal fins. When young, the Plaice has often a dark 
spot in the centre of each red mark. 


The FLOUNDER, MAYOCK FLEUK, or BUTT, is quite as common as the plaice, and is 
found in salt, brackish, or fresh water, sometimes living in the sea, sometimes inhabiting 
the mouths of rivers, and sometimes passing up the stream for many miles. 

In former days the Flounder has been known to ascend the Thames as high as 
Hampton Court, and has there been observed actively chasing the minnows and driving 
them into shallow water. As this fish is capable of living in fresh water, it h as often been 
transferred to ponds, and will there fatten rapidly. 

The colour of the Flounder is usually brown, taking a darker or lightei shade 
according to the nature of the ground on which the fish rests, those that inhabit the muddy 

304- THE COD. 

shores being nearly black, and those which prefer the sand taking a yellower hue. 
Generally the eyes and the colour are on the right side, but reversed specimens are very 
common, and in some instances the fish has been entirely white or wholly brown. The 
average weight of the Flounder is three or four pounds. 

ONE or two other examples of the British flat fishes deserve a passing notice. 

The COMMON DAB (Platessa limanda) is plentiful upon all the sandy coasts of Great 
Britain, and may at once be recognised by the roughness of its surface, or structure, which 
has gained for it the specific title of limauda, or file-backed the Latin word lima signifying 
a file. Its flesh is very good, and is thought to be in best condition from the end of 
January to April. Its colour is pale brown, and its length seldom exceeds eight inches 
Three or four other species of this genus are known on the British coasts. 

A VERY large species of flat fish, the HOLIBUT (Hippoglossus vulgdrts), is also captured 
off our shores, but the specimens which are exhibited in the London markets are usually 
brought from the northern fisheries. The flesh is tolerably good, but is rather dry and 
without much flavour. It is rather longer in proportion to its width than is generally the 
case among flat fishes. Its colour is brown of different shades, and the surface smooth, 
the small oval-shaped scales which cover it being soft and without projections. This fish 
attains a large size, specimens of five feet in length not being uncommon. The largest 
example on record measured above seven feet in length, and weighed more than three 
hundred pounds. 

THE well-known COD-FISH is a native of many seas, and in some localities is found in 
countless legions. 

This most useful fish is captured in vast numbers at certain seasons of the year, and is 
always taken with the hook and line. The lines are of two descriptions, namely the long 
lines to which a great number of short lines are attached, and the simple hand-lines which 
are held by the fishermen. The long lines sometimes run to an extraordinary length, and 
shorter lines, technically called snoods, are affixed to the long line at definite distances. 
Whatever may be the length of the snoods, they are fastened at intervals of double their 
length, so as to guard against the. entanglement of the hooks. For example, if the snoods 
are six feet long, they are placed twelve feet apart on the line ; if four feet long, eight feet 
apart, and so on. 

To the end of each snood is attached a baited hook, and as the sharp teeth of the fish 
might sever a single line, the portion of the snood which is near the hook is composed of 
a number of separate threads fastened loosely together, so as to permit the teeth to pass 
between the strands. At each end of the long line is fastened a float or buoy, and when 
the hooks have been baited with sand launce, limpets, whelks, and similar substances, 
the line is ready for action. 

The boat, in which the line is ready coiled, makes for the fishing-place, lowers a grapnel 
or small anchor, to which is attached the buoy at one end of the line, and the vessel then 
sails off, paying out the line as it proceeds, and always " shooting " the line across the tide, 
so as to prevent the hooks from being washed against each other, or twisted round the line, 
which is usually shot in the interval between the ebb and flow of the tide, and hauled 
in at the end of about six hours. 

As soon as the long line has been fairly shot, and both ends firmly affixed to the 
grapnels, the fishermen improve the next six hours by angling with short lines, one of 
which is held in each hand. They thus capture not only Cod-fish, but haddock, whiting, 
hake, pollack, and various kinds of flat fishes. On favourable occasions the quantity of 
fish captured by a single boat is very great, one man having taken more than four hundred 
Cod alone in ten hours. 

The Cod is a most uncertain fish in its habits, sometimes haunting the same locality 
foi a number of successive years, and then suddenly leaving it and repairing to some spot 
where not a fish might b.e found on the preceding year. New fishing-grounds are frequently 
discovered, and it sometimes happens that the fishermen are fortunate enough to alight on 

UUD. (fad-US 

a spot hitherto untouched, where, to use the graphic description of a sailor, the Cod are 
" as big as donkeys, and as common as blackberries." 

Eockall is one of the latest discoveries of this nature. It is a sandbank in the North 
Atlantic, about 136 miles from St. Kilda, and only distinguishable by a small rock like a 
rude haystack. The Cod are there so plentiful and so large that each fishing-boat sold 
her five days' catch for 140 ; and after due preparation, the fish were disposed of at 
neaiJy double that price. 

A great part of the estimation in which this fish is held depends upon the perfect 
manner in which it takes salt and the length of time during which it can be preserved in 
an eatable state. Salted Cod is to many persons a great dainty, but to others, among 
whom I must be reckoned, is insufferably offensive, and even with all the additions of 
sauce and condiment is barely eatable. 

The Cod is sometimes sent away in a fresh state, but is often split and salted on the 
spot, packed in flats on board, and afterwards washed and dried on the rocks. In this 
state it is called Klip-fish or Eock-fish. The liver produces a most valuable oil, which is 
now in great favour for the purpose of affording strength to persons afflicted with 
delicate lungs or who show symptoms of decline. The best oil is that which drains 
naturally from the livers as they are thrown into a vessel which is placed in a pan filled 
with boiling water. The oil is then carefully strained through flannel, and is ready 
for sale. 

The roe of the Cod is useful for bait, the sardine in particular being very partial to 
that substance. Much of the roe is stupidly wasted by the fisherman, who carelessly 
flings into the sea a commodity of which he can sell any amount, and for which he can 
obtain ten or eleven shillings per hundredweight. In Norway the dried heads of the 
Cod are used as fodder for cows, and, strange to say, the graminivorous quadrupeds are 
very fond of this aliment. 

Like several other marine fish, the Cod can be kept in a pond, provided the water be 

salt ; and if the pond should communicate with the sea, these fishes can be readily fattened 

for the table. Several such ponds are in existence, and it is the custom to transfer to 

them the liveliest specimens that have been caught during the day's fishery, the dead 

3. X 



or dying being either sold or cut up as food for their imprisoned relatives. These fishes are 
extremely voracious, and will eat not only the flesh of their kinsmen, but that of whelks 
and other molluscs, which are abundantly thrown to them. It is found that under this 
treatment the Cod is firmer, thicker, and heavier in proportion to its length than if it had 
been suffered to roam at large in the sea. 

The colour of the Cod is ashen green rather mottled with deeper tints, and the abdomen 
is white. The head is very large, there is a long fleshy barbule on the chin, and the pupil 
of the eye is blue. Varieties in colour and even in form are not uncommon, and in some 
cases are thought to be produced by difference of diet and locality. The average length 
of an adult Cod-fish is about three feet, and its weight twelve pounds. 

SEVEEAL other species of this genus are found in British waters, such as the DORSE 
(Morrhua callarias), the HADDOCK (Morrhua oeglefinus), a well-known and very valuable 
fish, mostly found along the north-eastern coast, and the WHITING POUT, SMELTIE, or KLEG 
(Morrhua luscd), so often manufactured into whitings by the simple process of slicing off 
certain parts of the fish, skinning it, and pushing its tail through the head. In this state 
it is sold and consumed as whiting ; and as one fish is just as good as the other, the 
consumer suffers no injury, and the enterprising vendor is recompensed for his trouble. 
The Pout is graphically termed by the fishermen the Stinkalive, because it becomes 
putrid so soon after death. While living, various iridescent colours play over the surface 
of the fish, but as soon as it is dead the colours and the dark bands disappear, and the 
whole upper surface becomes of a dull yellow-brown, the abdomen being whitish with a 
tinge of blue-grey. 

THE common WHITING (Merlangus vulgaris) is closely allied to the fishes of the 
preceding genus, and is too well known to need description. The COAL-FISH (Merlangus 
carbonarius), and the POLLACK (Merlangus pollachius), belong to the same genus as the 
whiting ; and the HAKE (Merlucius vulgaris) is closely allied to them. 

IN the large and important group of fishes to which our attention is now drawn, the 
ventral fins are wholly wanting, the body is long, snake-like, smooth and slimy on the 
exterior, and in many cases covered with very little scales hidden in the thick soft skin. 

SAND LAUNCE. Ammod'&tet lanetu. 

OUR first example is the SAND LAUNCE, a very common fish on many of the British 
coasts, and usually found wherever the shore is of a sandy character. The generic name 
Ammodytes signifies sand-diver, and is given to this fish in consequence of its habit of 
burying itself in the wet sand, where it remains hidden and secure from marine foes. 


The rapidity with which it achieves this feat is really remarkable. As the waves of 
the ebbing tide recede, the fish pushes its projecting under-jaw well into the sand, 
scoops backward and forward like a pig grubbing in soft soil, gives a wriggle of the 
glistening body and a twirl of the slender tail, and vanishes as if by magic. Caring not 
for the absent waters, and finding a sufficiency of moisture in the wet sand, the fish 
remains uninjured in its retreat, where it lies safe from the many aquatic foes who chase 
it in the waters, and from whom the shore-sand affords the only refuge. 

The Sand Launce is extremely valuable for bait, especially for such fastidious fish as 
the turbot, and is abundantly taken by the fishermen, who persecute the glittering little 
creatures, and by means of a many-toothed rake drag them from their sandy refuge. In 
some places the Sand Launce is taken in small-meshed nets that are dragged through the 
sand just at the water's edge, and in many localities the children of the fishermen are 
sent regularly to the shore for the purpose of hooking the Sand Launce out of their 
retreats by means of certain instruments of iron, curved sicklewise. 

The colour of the Sand Launce is glittering silvery white, and its length, when adult, 
is six or seven inches. On account of its active movements it is in some places popularly 
known by the name of the WRIGGLE. 

ANOTHER species of this genus, the SAND EEL or HORNELS (Ammodytes Tobianus), is 
common on the English shores, and is sometimes mistaken for the preceding species, fron: 
which, however, it may be distinguished by its greater size, its larger head, the farther 
setting back of the dorsal fin, the browner colour, and more opaque body. When full 
grown, the Sand Eel will reach the length of a foot or thirteen inches. 

THE two Eels represented in the engraving are examples of some very common and 
useful British fish. 

The SHARP-NOSED EEL derives its name from the shape of its head, and by that 
structure may be distinguished from the second species. In their habits the Eels are so 
similar that the present species will be taken as an example of the whole genus. 

Eels are found in almost all warm and temperate countries, and grow to a very large 
size in tropical regions. They are, however, impatient of cold, and in the extreme 
northern or southern parts of the world are not to be found. In many of the Pacific 
islands these fish are held in great estimation, being preserved in ponds and fed by hand, 
and in New Zealand they afford one of the staple articles of consumption. In some parts 
of the world, however, and even in many portions of Great Britain, a strong prejudice 
exists against Eels, probably on account of their resemblance to snakes, and even a 
hungry man will not eat one of these wholesome and nutritious fish. 

The Eel is one of the most mysterious of our river fishes, and although much is 
now known that formerly was involved in obscurity, there is still much to learn 
respecting its habits, and more especially its mode of reproduction. It is probable that 
difference of locality may influence the Eel and cause difference of habit, but it is certain 
that if a number of practical observers in different parts of England set themselves to 
watch the Eel and its customs, their accounts would vary in the most perplexing manner, 
and to build a theory upon so unsafe a basis is quite impossible. 

Of the general habits of the Eel, the Hon. Mr. Grantley F. Berkeley has given 
the following short and interesting account : 

" During hot, still, sunny weather, day and night, in the month of June, the 
Eels are chiefly on the top of the water. Wherever masses of weeds lie, and what is 
called the cow-weed grows the longest, there Eels do congregate, to bask in the sun by 
day, to enjoy by night the warmth left in the weeds by the sun, and there, while thus 
luxuriating, to snap at and catch the myriads of gnats, moths, flies, and other insects that 
seek the weeds for food or rest, and by damping their wings become an easy prey to their 
ambushed assailants. In waiting for the otter, or watching the river, I have often sat in 
my boat embayed in weeds, and seen and heard the Eels thus occupied , and near and 
within these weeds, in the particular weather alluded to, the wire-traps, nets, and snig- 
pots take best. 




The haunts of Eels are quite as variable as the weather. In warm, still weather, 
seek them on the rapids and near weeds either waving on the surface of the water or in 
floating masses of detached weeds that the eddies of the stream have wound and kept in 
one place. In blowing, cooler, or rainy weather, then look for them in the still, deep 
ditches. If a flush of water comes, and a little shallow stream running from or into the 
main river becomes fuller than usual, then let all the capturing gear be set to take them 
on, to them, this delicious change of ground, for against this stream they will work as 
long as it is freshened. In one night, in a Uttle stream of this sort, I took thirty pounds 
weight of Eels." 

Like several fishes which have already been mentioned, Eels are very tenacious of 
life, and are able to live for a long time when taken out of water, owing to a simple but 
beautiful modification of structure, which retains a sufficient amount of moisture to keep 
the gills in a damp state and able to perform their natural functions. These fishes have 
been seen crawling over considerable distances, evidently either in search of water, their 
own dwelling-place being nearly dried, or in quest of some running stream in whose 
waters they might descend to the sea after the manner of their race. 

At the Dargle, near Dublin, I have seen multitudes of little Eels crawling up the 
banks, and have been much amused by watching them wriggle themselves, without any 
apparent purpose, over the smooth surface of an overhanging rock, to which they clung 
and upon which they moved as freely as a fly on a ceiling. These little Eels were about 
eight or ten inches in length, and were so active as to escape the grasp unless the hand 
was moved with extreme rapidity. 

Vast multitudes of these little Eels are in the habit of proceeding up the rivers in the 
springtime, and in some places are known as Elvers. They are caught in great quantities, 
scalded and pressed into masses termed Eel, or Elver cake. When dressed, these little 
Eels afford a luxurious repast ; and before dressing, the' effect of the myriad tiny black 
eyes that speckle the macaroni-like mass of white bodies is most peculiar. 

Towards the latter end of summer, the Eels migrate towards the sea, and it is found 
that these fishes can live either in fresh or salt water with equal ease, the mouths of 


rivers being favoured localities. It sometimes happens that even in our seaport towns 
and marine watering-places, the common river Eel is caught by those who are angling in 
the sea for marine fish. This quality is peculiarly valuable in the Eel, as it enables the 
Dutch fishermen, who annually supply our markets with vast numbers of these fish, to 
bring them across the sea in vessels that are fitted with " wells " pierced for the trans- 
mission of the sea-water through which the vessel is sailing. 

Numbers of these Dutch Eel-boats may be seen about Gravesend, not daring to 
ascend the river on account of the polluted ftfnte of its water. In the wells of these 
boats the Eels remain for ten days, and require no food. 

Eels are captured in various modes. "Bobbing," or "clodding" as it is sometimes 
termed, is a very common and successful mode, consisting in making a bunch of earth- 
worms strung on worsted, and lowering it near the place where the Eels are known to be 
feeding. The voracious fish seize eagerly on the bait, and bite so fiercely, that they 
are pulled out of the water before they can disengage their teeth from the worsted. 
Another plan is by night-lines, which are laid in the evening and taken up in the 

One of the most successful methods, however, is by spearing, and is extensively 
adopted by bargemen, many of whom always have an Eel-spear on board. The spear 
is not unlike the conventional trident of Neptune, except that the prongs are four in 
number, flattened, slightly barbed on each edge, and spread considerably from their 
junction with the shaft. This is pushed at random into the muddy banks where 
the Eels love to lie, and whenever it encounters one of these fish, the long snake-like 
body is caught between the jagged prongs and lifted into the boat before it can 
extricate itself. 

The food of the Eel is extremely various, for the creature is most voracious, and eats 
every living being that it can master, whether aquatic or terrestrial. Even mice and 
rats fall a prey to this hungry fish, and on one occasion an Eel was found floating 
dead on the water, having been choked by a rat which it had attempted to swallow, 
but which was too large to pass down its throat. It has even been caught with a 
My while the fisherman was angling for trout. 

The tenacity of life possessed by this fish is really remarkable ; and it is worthy 
of notice that the best mode of killing Eels is to grasp them by the neck and slap their 
tails smartly against a stone or post. The muscular irritability of the body is wonder- 
fully enduring, and after the creature has been cut up into lengths each separate piece 
moves about as if alive, while at the touch of a pin's point it will curve itself as if 
it felt the injury. When all such irritability has ceased, the portions will flounce about 
vigorously if placed in boiling water ; and even after they have remained quiet under 
its influence, the addition of salt will make them jump about as vigorously as ever. 
Of course there can be no real sensation, the spinal cord having been severed. 

The reproduction of the Eel has long been a subject of discussion, some persons 
thinking that the young are produced in a living state, and others holding that they are 
hatched from eggs. This question has, however, been set at rest by that universal 
revealer, the achromatic microscope, which has shown that the masses of oily-looking 
substance generally called fat are really the aggregated clusters of eggs, and that 
these objects, minute though they may be, not so large as the dot over the letter i, are 
quite perfect and under the microscope are seen to be genuine eggs. 

The BKOAD-NOSED EEL is at once to be distinguished by the greater breadth of 
its head, bluntness of its nose, and soft uuctuousness of its body. It does not seem 
to attain so great a size as its sharp-nosed relative. Besides these species, a third British 
Eel, the SNIG, is found in some parts of England, and is known by its olive-green bacK 
and the golden yellow of the under parts. The Grig is a term applied by fishermen to 
any Eel of a small size, and even the name of Snig is employed in a very vague fashion. 

THE well-known CONGEE EEL is a marine species, very common in' our' seas, and "being 
most usually found on the rocky portion of the do'ast, 

CONGER. I'finger milgdrU. 

This useful fish has, of late years, come into more general use than formerly, and its 
good qualities are more appreciated. The flesh, though not very palatable if dressed 
unskilfully, is now held in some estimation, and for the manufacture of soup is thought 
to be almost unrivalled. The fishermen can now always obtain a ready sale for the 
Congers ; and those which are not purchased for the table are mostly bought up and 
made into isinglass. 

Congers are chiefly caught with the line, and it is found that, voracious as they are, 
they are fully as fastidious as the turbot, and will not touch a bait that is in the 
least tainted. Small fish, such as young dabs and plaice, are among the favourite baits, 
but the sand launce affords the most irresistible of lures, its bright glittering surface 
tempting the voracious fish to its own destruction. The arms of cuttle-fish cut into 
lengths is another bait used for taking the Conger. 

As the teeth of this fish are sharp, and the muscular power very 'great, the lines 
are made of proportionate strength, the portion to which the hooks are attached being 
twisted in such a manner that the Conger's teeth cannot cut through them. The hooks, 
too, are very strong, and are made of soft iron, so that if the fish has gorged the bait, the 
hook tan be drawn out by jerking until it straightens, when a few minutes' labour with a 
hammer suffices to restore its form. The line is generally a long one furnished with 
" snoods " at regular intervals, as has already been related of the cod-fish. For Conger 
fisheries the snoods are about nine feet in length, and the principal line rather more than 
four hundred feet. 

When the Congers are being hauled into the boat, they plunge about with the most 
desperate efforts to escape ; and should their sharp teeth seize the fishermen, the result 
is far from agreeable. The men, therefore, always kill the large Congers by a blow 
on the underside of the body, where they are far more vulnerable than on the head. 
The sailors will sometimes kill the Conger by squirting the juice of their " quids " into 
its mouth. In very cold weather the Congers are apt to be seized with a curious 
malady, which causes them to rise to the surface of the water, and there to float, 
unable to sink. On dissection, the swimming bladder is found to be enormously swollen 

MUR.ENA. Murcena Helena. 

but the reason of this distension seems rather obscure. In 1827, thousands of Congers 
were seen lying dead on the shore, at Eastbourne, during a severe frost ; and in January, 
1855, a similar circumstance occurred on several of our coasts. 

The colour of the Conger is pale brown above and greyish white below. It often 
attains to a very great size, measuring ten feet in length and weighing more than a 
hundred pounds. 

THE beautifully mottled MTJR^ENA is tolerably common in the Mediterranean, but 
is so scarce towards the British coast that it can hardly be considered as one of the true 
English fishes. 

In former days the Mursena was held in great distinction by epicures ; and the 
wealthy were accustomed to preserve them iri ponds built for that special purpose. 
In these ponds the MuraenEe were fattened, and several of the aristocrats laboured 
under the imputation of feeding them with an occasional slave, whenever an ill-fated 
domestic had the misfortune to offend them. The flesh is very white in colour, and 
of a peculiar and very delicate flavour. This fish can live either in salt or fresh water, 
but appears to prefer the sea. 

The colour is golden yellow in front and purple towards the tail ; and the whole body 
is covered with bands, irregular rings, and spots of deep and pale gold, purple, and 
brown. The dorsal fin begins a little behind the head and runs to the tail, where it 
is united with the anal fin. Both these fins are, however, low and fleshy, and not at all 
conspicuous. The length of this fish is extremely variable ; one specimen captured off 
the British shores measured four feet four inches in length. 

The ELECTEIC EEL is even more remarkable for its capability of delivering powerful 
electric shocks than the torpedo, but as it is never found in the British seas it is not 
so well known as that fish. 

The Electric Eel is a native of Southern America, and inhabits the rivers of that warm 
and verdant country. The organs which enable it to produce such wonderful effects ara 
double, and lie along the body, the one upon the other. 

ELECTRIC EEL. Gymnttus eltctncuk 

The reader will remember thai in the torpedo the electric effect was produced by a 
mimber of little columns ; in the Electric Eel, the corresponding organ consists of a great 
number of divisions, technically called "septa," which are again subdivided by lessei 
transverse membranes. One organ is always larger than the other ; and it was found tha f 
in a fish measuring about two feet four inches in length, there were thirty-four septa in 
the larger organ arid fourteen in the smaller. On an average two hundred and forty 
transverse membranes are packed in each inch, thereby giving a vast extent of electricity- 
producing surface. It was calculated by Lacepede, that the expanse of this organ in an 
Electric Eel of four feet in length is equivalent to one hundred and twenty-three square 
feet, while that of a large torpedo only equals fifty-eight feet. 

In the native country of these fishes they are captured by an ingenious but somewhat 
cruel process. A herd of wild horses are driven to the spot and urged into the water. 
The alarmed Gynmoti, finding their domains thus invaded, call forth all the terrors 
of their invisible artillery to repel the intruders, and discharge their pent-up lightnings 
with fearful rapidity and force. Gliding under the bellies of the frightened horses, 
they press themselves against their bodies, as if to economize all the electrical fluid, and 
by shock after shock generally succeed in drowning several of the poor quadrupeds. 

Horses, however, are but of slight value in that country, hardly, indeed, so much 
valued as pigeons in England, and as fast as they emerge from the water in frantic 
terror, are driven back among their dread enemies. Presently the shocks become less 
powerful, for the Gymnotus soon exhausts its store of electricity, and when the fishes 
are thoroughly fatigued they are captured with impunity by the native hunters. A 
most interesting account of this process is given by Humboldt, but is too long to 
be inserted in these pages. 

Several of these wonderful fish have been brought to England in a living state ; and 
many of my readers may remember the fine Gymnotus that lived in the Polytechnic 
Institution. Numbers of experimenters were accustomed daily to test its powers; and 
the fatal, or at all events the numbing, power of the stroke was evident when the creature 
was supplied with the fish on which it fed. Though blind, it was accustomed to turn its 
head towards the spot designated by the splashing of the attendant's finger. r?d as soon 


PIG-NOSED GLASS EEL. - Hyoprorus Messinensis. 


as a fish was allowed to fall into the water the Gymnotus would curve itseJF slightly, 
.seemed to stiffen its muscles, and the victim turned over on its back, struck as if dead 
by the violence of the shock. 

When full grown, the Electric Eel will attain a length of five or six feet, and is then 
a truly formidable creature. The body is rounded, and the scales small and barely 
risible. According to Marcgrave, the native name for this fish is Carapo. 

WE have already seen some examples of fishes where the body is extremely 
transparent, and now come to an entire family where this peculiarity is the chief and 
most obvious characteristic. 

The skeleton of the Leptocephalidse, or Glass Eels as they are termed, from their 
Eel-like shape and singular translucency, is very imperfect, merely consisting of cartilage, 
and so slight, that even in the head, where the greatest strength is required, the brain 
can be seen through the translucent skull in which it lies. Their bodies are always 
extremely compressed and mostly leaf-like, so transparent that when lying in a vessel 
containing water they would hardly be noticed, and the lateral line is formed by the 
intersection of the muscles, as may be seen by reference to the illustration. 

The PIG-NOSED GLASS EEL may be known by the lengthened form of its head and 
snout, which are far longer in proportion to the dimensions of the fish than in any other 
member of the family. The generic term Hyoprorus literally signifies swine-beaked, 
and in former days was applied to a certain kind of galley which had a long and 
slightly turned-up beak. The sudden height of the body just behind the head is very 
remarkable, and on close examination, a row of mucous pores will be found along the 
jaws and on the head. The eyes are not very large, and the general length of the 
species is between four and five inches. As its specific name imports, it has been 
taken at Mebsina. 



The HAIR-TAILED GLASS EEL is much longer in proportion than the last-mentioned 
species, and its body is so extremely compressed that it is hardly thicker than the 
paper on which this account is printed. This species is also found at Messina. The 
jaws are short and round, the eye rather small, and the tail tapers away to a hair-like 
point. The length of this fish is rather more than a foot, and a row of minute points 
runs along each edge of the body. 

The typical genus Leptocephalus is a rather large one, containing more species than 
the four preceding genera together. 

The BOUND-HEADED GLASS EEL derives its specific name of Tsenia, or tapeworm, 
on account of its resemblance to that unpleasant internal parasite. Its head is, as its 
name denotes, short and much rounded, and the eyes are globular, projecting, and 
extremely large. The jaws are tolerably well furnished with small teeth. In shape 
it is long and rather rounded, and the absence of fins renders its resemblance to a 
tapeworm extremely striking. It seems to be an Asiatic species, having been captured 
in India and the neighbouring islands. 

AN example of this genus, the ANGLESEY MORRIS (Leptocephalus Morrisi\ has been 
taken on our own coasts. In this species the head is blunt, the eye moderate, the body 
much compressed, and deepest at the latter third of its length. When living, its polished 
surface reflects gleams of iridescent light as it winds its graceful way through the sea- 
weeds among which it loves to sojourn, like a ribbon of animated nacre. But when 
dead and placed in spirits, all the delicate opalescence of its body fades, and soon 
deteriorates into an opaque dull whiteness like wet parchment. 

BUND-FISH. Amblyoi>sis speictnu. 

THE reader will remember that on several occasions it has been deemed expedient 
to give examples of remarkable deviations from the ordinary system, and to call attention 
to the wondei ful economy of nature, which is most averse to wastefulness, and declines to 
expend its powers on organs that if existing would be in abeyance. A recent example 
of such modification has been given in the proteus, on page 192, that curious reptile, 
or semi-reptile, which inhabits caves wherein penetrates no ray of light, and which, 
having no need of external eyes, is altogether devoid of such useless organs. 

The BLIND-FISH of America affords another instance of similar economy in structure. 
Living, like the proteus, in a subterranean and perfectly dark grotto, it needs no eyes, and 

ANCHOVY. Engraulis encraticholiis. 
SHAD. AUsa mdgdris. 

in consequence possesses none, their place being merely indicated by two minute black 
dots on the sides of the head. The head is naked, but the body is covered with scales, 
and the jaws are furnished with some small but sharp teeth. Its colour is whitish grey, 
as is, indeed, mostly the case with animals that have been long deprived of the colour- 
giving sunlight. The grotto which contains this very remarkable little fish is in 

WE now come to that most valuable family of fishes, the Herring tribe, called 
technically Clupeidse, from the Latin word clupea, a herring. 

THE well-known ANCHOVY is properly a native of the Mediterranean Sea, though 
it often occurs on our coasts, and has once or twice been captured in our rivers. Indeed, 
one practical writer on British fishes thinks that the capture of the Anchovy off our 
shores is a task that would be highly remunerative if properly undertaken, and that, 
with proper pains, the British markets might be fully supplied with Anchovies from 
our own seas. 

This little fish has long been famous for the powerful and unique flavou. of its flesh, 
and is in consequence captured in vast quantities for the purpose of being made into 
Anchovy sauce, Anchovy paste, and other articles of diet in which the heart of an 
epicure delights. Unfortunately, however, the little fish is so valuable, that in the 
preparations made from its flesh the dishonest dealers too often adulterate their goods 
largely, and palm off sprats and other comparatively worthless fish for the real Anchovy. 


As the head is always removed before the process of potting is commenced, the 
deception is not easily detected the. long head with its projecting upper jaw and 
deeply cleft gape affording so clear an evidence of the identity of the fish, that no one 
would venture to pass off one fish for the other if the heads were permitted to remain in 
their natural places. The flavour of the veritable Anchovy is rudely imitated by various 
admixtures and its full rich colour is simulated by bole armoniac and other abominations. 
The very long generic title of this fish was given to it in ancient times, and is still 
retained, as being at once appropriate and sanctioned by the verdict of antiquity. Its 
literal signification is "gall-tinctured," and the name has been given to it on account of 
the peculiar bitter taste of the head, in which part the ancients supposed the gall to be 
placed. The colour of the Anchovy is bluish green on the back and upper part of the 
head, and the remainder of the body silvery white ; the fins have a tinge of green, and 
are beautifully transparent. The scales are large and fall off almost at a touch. The 
length of the Anchovy varies from five to seven inches. 

The COMMON or ALLICE SHAD is extremely plentiful on some of our coasts, but 
appears to be a rather local fish, and while it abounds in some places to be wholly 
absent from others. 

The Shad is fond of ascending rivers, especially if the water be clear ; and while the 
Thames was still unstirred by the paddles of multitudinous steamboats, and unpolluted by 
the contents of countless sewers, this fish would ascend the river for a considerable 
distance, and has been taken in good condition near Hampton Court. Some persons 
think that the flavour of the fish improves in proportion to its proximity to the river 
source. Except in size, the Shad bears a very close resemblance to a herring, and in 
some places is called the King of the Herrings. 

The colour of the Shad is dark blue on the upper part of the head and back, variegated 
with glosses or reflections of brown and green, either colour predominating according to 
the angle at which the light falls upon the surface. The remainder of the body is white. 
There is another British species of this genus, the TWAITE SHAD (Alosafinta}, which is 
about half the size of the Allice Shad, weighing on an average about two pounds. Both 
these fish may be at once distinguished by a deep cleft or notch in the centre of the 
upper jaw. 

The HEREING is undoubtedly the most valuable of our British fishes, and the one which 
could least be spared. It is at once the luxury of the rich and the nourishment of the 
poor, capable of preservation throughout a long period, easily packed, quickly and simply 
dressed, and equally good whether eaten fresh or salted, smoked or potted. 

During the greater part of the year, the Herring lives in deep water, where its habits 
are entirely unknown. About July or August, the Herring is urged, by the irresistible 
force of instinct, to approach the shores for the purpose of depositing its spawn in the 
shallow waters, where the warm rays of the sun may pour their vivifying influence upon 
the tiny eggs that will hereafter produce creatures of so disproportionate a size, and 
where the ever-moving tides may fill the water with free -oxygen as the waves clash on 
the shores and fall back in whitened spray, thus giving to the water that sparkling 
freshness so needful for the development of the future fish. 

The Hen-ings, when they once begin to move, arise in vast shoals, and direct their 
course towards some part of the shore. In their choice of locality they are most capricious 
fih, sometimes frequenting one spot for many successive years, then deserting it for a 
length of time, and again returning to it without any apparent reason for either course of 
proceeding. They are essentially gregarious while on the move ; and each shoal is so 
closely compacted, and its limits so well defined, that while one net will be filled almost 
to bursting with Herrings, another net, only a yard or two distant, will be left as empty 
as when it was shot. 

The months of spawning are October and November, and until the Herring has 
performed the office for which it came to the shore, its flesh is in its best condition. As 
soon, however, as the spawning is completed, the fish, then technically called " shotten" 

HERRING. Clupea harengvt. 

HPIIAT. Cliipea sprattvt 

Herrings, retire to the deep whence they issued, and there remain until the succeeding 
year summons them to a repetition of the same duties. 

The usual method of catching Herrings is by drift-nets, which are spread, or " shot," 
in innumerable lines of complicated cordage, forming a veritable labyrinth of ropes and 
meshes, the back lines adding to the general complexity of the structure. 

The night view of a Herring fishery is singularly beautiful, owing to the phospho- 
rescent properties of the fish, a phenomenon common to many of the finny tribes, and which 
is well described by Mr. W. H. Maxwell, in his " Wild Sports of the West." " The 
darkness of the night increased the scaly brilliancy which the phosphoric properties of 
these beautiful fish produce. The bottom of the boat, now covered with some thousand 
Herrings, glowed with a living light which the imagination could not create and the pencil 
never imitate. The shades of gold and silvery gems were rich beyond description ; 
and much as I had heard of phosphoric splendour before, every idea I had formed fell 
infinitely short of its reality." 

The Herring is one of the fish that cannot endure absence from water, and dies 
almost immediately after it is taken out of the sea, thus giving rise to the familiar saying, 
as " dead as a Herring." 

The food of the Herring is extremely varied, even in the comparatively shallow 
waters, and its subsistence during the time it is submerged in the deep is necessarily 
unknown. In the stomach of the Herring have been found Crustacea of various kinds, 
molluscs, the spawn and fry of other fish, and even the young of its own kind. It can 
be taken with a hook, and has been known to seize a limpet that was used as bait. 


Few fish have so many foes as the Herring, its marvellously gregarious habits ren- 
dering it an easy prey to finned and feathered foes ; and its shoals are so perseveringly 
preyed upon by the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea, that even the havoc annually 
made by man falls probably short of that caused by the ceaseless attacks of the myriad 
enemies that surround them. 

Several of the cetaceans are in the habit of following the Herrings to the shore, and 
gorging themselves during the whole of their stay. Various members of the shark 
tribe rove ceaselessly among the shoals, and by their peculiar habit of snapping the fish 
asunder before swallowing it, cause a large quantity of oil to escape, and to produce a 
peculiar effect upon the surface. The chimsera and many other of the large-sized fish 
take the opportunity of enjoying a boundless feast, and prowl around the shoals like 
roaming banditti The sea-birds above are quite as voracious as the fish below, and as 
actively engaged in the pursuit of their prey ; so that when man, birds, and fishes 
have had their share, it seems quite wonderful that the whole Herring race is not 

In the Norwegian fisheries, the boatmen do not like to shoot their nets unless they 
are sure that a shoal of Herrings is passing. During the daytime, therefore, they watch 
for their prey with an instrument called a water-glass, which is nothing more than a 
trumpet-shaped tube of wood, with a simple plate of glass let into the broad end. This is 
pushed under water, and when the eye of the observer is applied to the upper extremity, 
enables him to see to a considerable depth, the vision not being disturbed by the shifting 
lines of the surface. At night the men lower a line, to which a weight is attached, and 
as soon as they feel the line jarred by the passing fish, they shoot their nets, in the 
certainty of effecting a capture. 

The colour of the Herring is blue above with greenish reflections, and the rest of the 
body is silvery white. After the fish has been dead for some hours, the cheeks and gill- 
covers become red, as if from injected blood. 

ANOTHEE species of this fish, called LEACH'S HEREING (Clupea Leachii], is taken off 
our coasts during the winter months ; the roe being well developed at the end of January, 
and the spawn deposited in February. It is a small species, between seven and eight 
inches in length. 

THE common SPEAT is another very useful fish, though not so extensively valued as 
the herring. 

Like that fish, it swims in vast shoals during the spawning season, which immediately 
succeeds that of the herring, so that from July to February and March the public can 
command a continual supply of fresh sea-fish, which can be purchased at so cheap a rate 
as to be within the reach of all classes, and are, nevertheless, of such excellent flavour, 
that if they were as scarce as they are plentiful, they would be held in high estimation at 
the tables of the wealthy. To the taste of many persons, however, the Sprat is too rich 
and too strongly flavoured to be in much request. 

This fish is captured in nets of various kinds, the nature of the net mostly depending 
on that of the locality ; and as it swims in shoals quite equal in numbers to those of the 
herring, it is taken in countless multitudes when the boats happen to be fortunate in 
their selection of a fishing-ground. Now and then the "take" is so enormous that even 
the London markets, which usually absorb every eatable article which can be brought for 
sale, and often anticipate the future crops or supplies, are at times so overstocked with 
Sprats that the fishermen can find no ordinary sale for their perishable goods, and are 
perforce obliged to dispose of them to the farmers, who spread them over their lands for 
manure, most unfragrant but exceedingly fertilizing. 

At one time the Sprat was thought to be the young of the herring, pilchard, or shad, a 
mistake occurring in all probability from the vague manner in which the word Sprat is 
employed in many seaside villages, any little whitish fish being called by that name. 
It can, however, be distinguished even in the dark from the young of either of these 
fishes, by means of the sharply notched edge of the abdomen. In colour it is very like 
the herring. 


FLY I \G-FISH. - ExoccKtu* votitiuui. 

ONE or two more members of this genus demand a brief notice. 

The PILCHARD, or GIPSY HEEEING (Clupea pilchardus), is another of the gregarious 
fish, and is taken about the month of August by a wonderfully intricate system of 
boats and nets that seem capable of sweeping every fish out of the sea. Though very 
like the herring, it may easily be distinguished by the position of the dorsal fin, which 
is set so far forward that if the fish be held by the first ray of that fin its body 
slopes upward, whereas in the herring it is nearly balanced and slightly inclines 

ANGTHEE species of this genus is peculiarly dear to the metropolitan epicure under 
the name of WHITEBAIT. The scientific name of this fish is Clupea alba. This most 
delicate little fish, which looks so exquisitely beautiful in the opalescent translucency 
of its living state that the mind almost recoils from defiling it with the appliances 
of cookery, is taken in the mouths of several British 'rivers, and is sometimes known to 
ascend for many miles up the stream. It was long thought to be the fry of some other 
fish, but this opinion has long been disproved. The colour of this pretty little fish 
is all silvery white, with the exception of the back, which is tinged with ashen green. 

THE far-famed FLYING-FISH exists in many of the warmer seas, and derives its 
popular name from its wonderful powers of sustaining itself in the air. 

The passage of this fish through the atmosphere can lay no just claim to the title 
of flight, for the creature does not flap the wing-like pectoral fins on which it is upborne, 
and is not believed even to possess the power of changing its course. As much of the 
history of the Flying-fish has been given while treating of the coryphene, the reader is 
referred to the description of that fish on page 277, where may also be seen an 
illustration of the attitudes assumed by the F lying-fish as it speeds its course through 
the air while attempting to avoid its deadly foe beneath. 

In allusion to the habits of this remarkable fish, Mr. F. D. Bennett, in his " Narrative 
of a Whaling Voyage," has the following valuable remarks : 


" The principal external agents employed in tins mode of locomotion are the large 
lobe of the tail fin and the broad transparent pectoral fins, which, on this occasion, serve 
at least as a parachute, and which, being situated close to the back, place the centre 
of suspension higher than the centre of gravity. It is also curious to notice how well 
the specific gravity of the fish can be regulated, in correspondence with the element 
through which it may move. The swim-bladder, when perfectly distended, occupies 
nearly the entire cavity of the abdomen and contains a large quantity of air ; and in 
addition to this, there is a membrane in the mouth which can be inflated through the 
gills ; these two reservoirs of air affording good substitutes for the air-cells so freely 
distributed within the bones of birds, and having the additional advantage of being 
voluntary in their function. 

The pectoral fins, though so large when expanded, can be folded into an exceedingly 
slender, neat, and compact form ; but whether they are employed in swimming in the 
closed or expanded state, I have been unable to determine. 

Under some circumstances of excitement, these fish will leap over the bulwarks 
of a ship and be killed by the violence with which they strike against the deck or 
spars. This usually occurs at night, or early in the morning, and a light displayed from 
the chains of a vessel on a dark night will bring many of them on board in the same 
manner. Their flesh is the bonne louche of voyagers ; it bears some resemblance to that 
of the herring. Although the Flying-fish excites so much commiseration for its per- 
secuted state, it is itself predaceous, feeding chiefly on smaller fishes." 

The ancients were well acquainted with the Flying-fish, and in their narrative seven 
improved upon its powers, as was customary with the voyagers of those days, and 
asserted that, as soon as night came on, this fish left the ocean, flew ashore, and slept 
until morning safe from the attacks of its marine enemies. The generic name of 
exoczetus, literally a " sleeper-out," refers to this supposed habit. 

THE reader will doubtlessly remember that the power of sustentation in the atmosphere 
for a more or less prolonged period is exhibited in the three preceding orders of vertebrated 
animals, and that, in every case, this object is attained by the modification of parts already 
existing, and not by the addition of special members. 

In the bats, for example, the lengthened bones of the fore-limbs, together with the 
extension of the skin, form a flying apparatus of wonderful perfection, and in the creatures 
that are popularly, though erroneously, called " flying " squirrels and " flying " rats, the 
capability of passing through considerable distances, upborne by the air, is achieved by 
a development of a similar nature but of less extent, the skin of the sides being much 
widened, though the limbs retain their usual comparative dimensions. These, as well as 
other creatures who move through the air on the same principle, ought rather to be termed 
" skimmers." 

In the birds the power of flight is physically owing to the development of the fore- 
limbs and the modification of the structures which clothe the skin. In the two succeeding 
orders of vertebrates, no truly flying species are at present known to exist. The only 
reptile that in this period of the world's history is enabled to sustain itself in the air, even 
for a limited space, is the little flying dragon, a creature which has its ribs nearly straight 
instead of curved, and by means of this formation is enabled to sweep from one tree to 
another just like the flying squirrel. But in the older ages of the world, flying reptiles 
were abundant, with " wings " that measured some thirty feet from tip to tip, and evidently 
both agile and strong of flight like those of the bat, to which they bear a great resemblance. 
Lastly, we have several examples among the fishes, where the pectoral fins, answering to 
the fore-limbs of the higher vertebrates, are so greatly expanded and enlarged, that they 
can oe spread horizontally, and bear their owner on a short course through the air. 

In any case, the power of flight is wonderful, but in the fish it seems almost to partake 
of the miraculous, inasmuch as these creatures inhabit a different element, and do not even 
breathe the atmosphere into which they are capable of launching themselves. Yet, when 
more closely examined, the flying power of the fish is not one whit more remarkable than 
the diving powers of the otter and penguin, both of which creatures are able to leave their 


own element fc.r that of the finny race, to dive through the water with such marvellous 
address that they can chase and capture even the swift and active fishes, and can remain 
submerged for a much longer period than the Flying-fish can remain in the air. Flying and 
swimming are indeed convertible terms, as are wings and fins, wings being the fins of 'the 
air, and fins the wings of the waters. 

It is well known that the flight of this fish is short and intermittent, the creature being 
obliged to dip into the sea after its sweep through the air, and the cause of this necessity 
is said to be the drying of the fin-membranes, which prevents the fish from sustaining 
itself in the air, inasmuch as it leaps with fresh vigour into the atmosphere after 
being refreshed by a dip in the water. I cannot but think, however, that one reason of 
the intermittent flight is simply that the original impetus is exhausted, and that the 
fish requires to seek the water in order to obtain a fresh start. There may, perhaps, be 
another reason. 

It has already been mentioned that the climbing perch, and other fish of similar habits, 
possess certain reservoirs of water, which constantly bathe the gills, and thus oxygenize 
the blood in the same method that is adopted when the body is entirely submerged in the 
waters. Now, the Flying-fish possesses no such reservoir, and the question therefore 
arises, whether the passage through the air may not act powerfully on the blood by 
supplying it with an excess of oxygen, and, through the blood, upon the nervous system, 
producing a kind of temporary delirium or intoxication. It would be an interesting experi- 
ment to catch a Flying-fish after its flight, and test the temperature of the blood with a 
trustworthy instrument, and also to ascertain the length of time that a Flying-fish can 
survive when removed from the water. 

Perhaps some of my readers may have the opportunity of making these investigations, 
and of solving some of the countless divine enigmas which surround us. It may be that 
if the full history of the Flying-fish were discovered, we should find therein not only the 
operations of nature as exemplified in the individual species, but discover enshrined within 
the limits of that delicate framework the deepest mysteries of vitality, health, and a 
material locomotion of which we have as yet hardly dreamed. 

About thirty species of Flying-fish are known, mostly belonging to the Mediterranean 
Sea, but others occur in the North Sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. 

BEFORE proceeding to our next figured example of the finny tribes, we must briefly 
notice a curious fish which seems to be a kind of balance to the sword-fish already 
mentioned, the " sword " in this instance belonging to the lower instead of the upper 
jaw, and being formed by a prolongation of its bones. It is known by the scientific name 
of Hemiramphus argenteus, and is found near the surface of the water in the Pacific Ocean. 
Its colour is uniform silvery white, and its average length is only four inches. 

THE odd-looking GAR -FISH is known by a vast variety of names, such as SEA PIKE, 
mentioned title being given to it because, when it is boiled, its bones are of a bright green 
hue. The name of Mackarel Guide is owing to the fact that its spawning season exactly 
precedes that of the mackarel, and the other names explain themselves. 

This is one of the marine fish, and is sometimes taken and sent to market, generally 
causing some little excitement as its long pointed head and brightly coloured body lie 
shining on the dealer's table. It is not, however, extensively captured, on account of a 
senseless prejudice which exists in many parts against the fish, the green hue of the spine 
being its probable cause. Despite of prejudice, the fish is an excellent one, and when 
properly dressed is not unlike eel, but is not so rich. 

It is a voracious and bold-biting fish", taking almost any animal substance used as bait, 
and seizing it so strongly that it hooks itself without any trouble to the angler. To those 
who fish for their living, and not merely for sport, the Gar-fish behaves in a very agreeable 
manner; for instead of plunging about when it feels the hook, and by its struggles 
frightening all other fishes away, it gives one strong pull when it finds itself checked, and 
then resigns the contest, hanging quietly until released by the fisherman. As a number 
3. Y 


of hooks are fastened by snoods to each line, the advantages of a quiet capture can 
hardly be overrated. 

The colour of the Gar-fish is dark bluish green on the back and upper part of the 
head, fading gradually on the sides into the silvery white of the abdomen. Its usual 
length is about two feet. 


QAR-PI8H. BeUme vulgant. 

THE fierce and voracious PIKE has well earned its titles of Fresh-water Shark and 
River Pirate, for though perhaps not one whit more destructive to animal life than the 
roach, gudgeon, and other harmless fish, the prey which it devours are of larger size, and 
its means of destruction are so conspicuous and powerful, that its name has long been a 
by-word for pitiless rapacity. 

The Pike is found in almost every English river, and although supposed to have been 
artificially introduced into our country, has multiplied as rapidly as any indigenous fish. 
The Pike is the master of the waters in which it resides, destroying without mercy every 
other fish that happens to come near its residence, none seeming able to escape except the 
perch, whose array of sharp spines daunts even the voracious Pike from attempting its 
capture. As if to show that the Pike really desires to eat the perch, and is only withheld 
from doing so by a wholesome dread of its weapons, there is no better bait for a Pike than 
a young perch from which the dorsal fin has been removed. It will even feed upon its 
own kind, and a young Pike, or Jack as it is then called, of three or four inches in length, 
has little chance of life if it should come across one of its larger kindred. 

At the beginning of spring, the Pike leaves the larger rivers, and ascends the creeks 
and narrow ditches in order to deposit its spawn. Many fine fish are captured at that time 
of year by penning them in with a couple of nets, which are gradually approached towards 
each other until the fish is inclosed between them. 

After hatching, the growth of the young Jack is extremely rapid, and according to 
Bloch, it will attain a length of ten inches in the first year of its life. If well fed, the 
growth of this fish continues at a tolerably uniform rate of about four pounds per year, 
and this increase will be maintained for six or seven successive years. 

The voracity of the Pike is too well known to need much comment. A tiny Jack of 
five inches in length has been known to capture and try to eat a gudgeon of its own size, 
and to swim about quite unconcernedly, with the tail of its victim protruding from its 
mouth. Had it been suffered to live, it would probably have finished the gudgeon in 
course of time, as the head was found to have been partially digested. Three water-rats 
have been found in the stomach of one Pike, accompanied by the remains of a bird too 
far decomposed to be recognisable, but supposed to be the remnants of a duck. An 
opinion was once prevalent, and still exists in some places, that the Pike would not eat the 

PIKE. Esox lutfnix. 

gold-fish, being scared by the burnished glitter of their scales. This idea, however, is 
incorrect, as the Pike has been seen to devour gold-fish in spite of their brilliant armour. 
So universal is the appetite of this fish, that it has even been known to seize the paste 
bait which had been used for other and less voracious inhabitants of the waters. 

When the Pike attains a tolerable size, it takes possession of some particular spot in 
the bank, usually a kind of hole or cave which is sheltered by overhanging soil or roots, 
and affords a lair where it can lurk in readiness to pounce upon its passing prey. It is 
rather remarkable that these fish seem to be well acquainted with the most " eligible 
residences," and that if a large Pike is taken from a hole, another is sure to take 
possession in a very short space of time. 

The Pike seems to have no limit to its size, for it is a very long-lived fish, and seems 
always to increase in dimensions provided it be well supplied with food. A fish of ten 
or twelve pounds' weight is considered to be a fine specimen, though there have been 
examples where the Pike has attained more than five times the latter weight. These huge 
fishes of sixty or seventy pounds are, however, of little value for the table. 

The colour of the Pike is olive-brown on the back, taking a lighter hue on the sides, 
and being variegated with green and yellow. The abdomen is silvery white. 

The SALMON is undoubtedly the king of British river-fish ; not so much for its dimen- 
sions, which are exceeded by one or two giant members of the finny tribe, but for the 
silvery sheen of its glittering scales, its wonderful dash and activity, affording magnificent 
sport to the angler, the interesting nature of its life from the egg to full maturity, and last, 
but not least, for the exquisite flavour and nutritive character of its flesh. 

In former days, before civilization had substituted man and his dwellings for the broad 
meadows and their furred and feathered inmates, the Salmon was found in many an 
English river. Now, however, there are but few streams where this splendid fish can be 
seen, for, in the greater number of British rivers, the water has been so defiled by human 
agency that the fastidious Salmon will not suffer itself to be poisoned by such hateful 
mixture of evil odours and polluted waters ; and in the few streams where the water is 
still sufficiently pure for the Salmon to venture into them, the array of nets, weirs, and all 



kinds of Salmon traps is so tremendous, that not one tithe of the normal number are now 
found in them. 

The ingenuity which has been exhibited in the invention of these " infernal machines,' 3 
as the fixed nets have been justly termed, and the amount of labour which has been 
expended in their manufacture, are worthy of a better cause; for in their arrangement the 
habits of the fish have been carefully studied, and, in their manufacture, its capabilities 
have been foreseen. The evil has, of late years, arisen to so great a height, that the Salmon 
would soon have been extirpated from our rivers, had not the nation wisely interfered 
to prevent the loss of so much national wealth, and given the fish a fair chance of 
re-establishing itself in its former plenty. 

The shortsighted persons who plant all these obstructions forget that by this wholesale 
destruction of the Salmon they are acting against their own interests, and that if they 
destroy the ill-conditioned and young fish, as well as the adult and healthy Salmon, 
they condemn themselves to the probability of eating bad fish for the present, and the 
certainty of total deprivation for the future. The fact, however, seems to be, that each 
petty proprietor of a fishery is jealous of the neighbours above and below him, and 
indiscriminately slaughters all fish that he can capture in his own waters, simply that 
they may not pass into those of his neighbour. 

The preservation of this noble fish is truly a subject of national importance, and it is 
to be hoped that, by judicious legislation and active administration of the law, the Salmon 
may no longer be the rich man's luxury, but again hold its legitimate place as the poor 
man's cheap subsistence. That it should ever re-enter the Thames, from which it has been 
banished for more than fjprty years, is a dream that perhaps may never be realized. But 
as the increasing facilities of transport become more developed, a Salmon stream in the 
far north is virtually brought within a few miles of any railway station in the kingdom, 
and every portion of our island may perchance procure this delicious fish even before the 
well-known " curd " has vanished 

While speaking of this curd, which is to the Salmon what the fin is to theturbot, and 
the green fat to the turtle, it may be mentioned' that the practice of "scoring" is 
destructive of this delicacy, and indeed is one of the most ingenious methods of spoiling 
the fish that can be invented. 

The life history of the Salmon is very interesting, and in many parts not a little 
mysterious. In the short space which is allowable for the subject, I will endeavour to 
trace the life of a Salmon from its earliest entrance into the world to its exit therefrom ; 
putting forward no particular theories, but merely enumerating the accredited observations 
that have been made on this curious subject. 

We will begin with the cradle that is prepared for the expected brood. This is a groove 
in the gravelly bed of a river, and is scooped out by one or both of the parents. Even here 
a discrepancy exists between practical observers, some of whom aver that the groove is made 
by both parents by means of rooting with their noses in the ground ; others that the male 
Salmon scoops out the gravel with a hook-like appendage that is developed on his chin 
during the breeding season ; while others declare that the male never troubles himself 
about the labour of scooping the groove, his duty being to watch over his mate and to fight 
any other fish of his own sex and species who may intrude upon their home, and that the 
whole task devolves upon the female, who executes it by twirling her tail and not by 
grubbing with her snout. 

The whole process of depositing the numerous eggs occupies on the average about ten 
days, and, after it is accomplished, the parent fish leave the eggs to be hatched by 
surrounding influences, while they themselves quit the spot and remain in the river for a 
short period while they recover from the exhaustion caused by the process. During this 
period they are unusually ravenous, and vast quantities of the young of their own kind, 
which are about that time abundant in the river, fall victims to their insatiable appetite. 
After a time, and about the months of March and April, they drop down from pool to pool, 
in any flood which may seem favourable to them, until they reach the sea, where they are 
supposed to remain from six weeks to three or four months, when they again seek the 
river, vastly increased in weight and improved in condition. 

SALMON. Kalmo Salur. 

While they are occupied iu this migration, the abandoned eggs are gradually 
approaching maturity under the influence of warmth and the rushing waters, and after a 
period, varying according to the temperature of the water, the young Salmon bursts 
through its prison. It is then a tiny and almost transparent creature, hardly to be 
recognised as a fish ; and being too feeble to employ the mouth in obtaining subsistence, 
bears a portion of the egg still adhering to the abdomen like a transparent amber-coloured 


gac flecked with tiny blood-vessels ; and by gradually absorbing this material into the 
system, preserves its life until its increased dimensions permit it to seize prey with the 
little mouth, afterwards to be so formidably arrayed with teeth. 

In this stage of their existence, the little Salmon are called by a great variety of names 
and are marked with eight or ten dark patches upon the sides. It was for a long while a 
moot question as to how long these little fish remained in the river previous to their first 
migration to the sea. Some authorities announced that, from repeated experiments, they 
had found that these fish did not stay more than one year in the river ; others as positively 
averred that on similar grounds they were enabled to show that they remained two years. 
Subsequent and more satisfactory experiments, conducted at Stormontfield, on the Tay, 
have shown, however, that both parties are right ; for, singular to say, some of the fish go 
down after one year and some only after two years' confinement in the fresh water. And 
stranger still is the fact that hitherto all experiment, attention, and inquiry have failed 
to afford a satisfactory explanation of this apparent incongruity or irregularity of nature, 
and it remains a problem unsolved to this day. When the fish are about to depart for 
the sea, their mottled coat is exchanged for a covering of bright silvery scales, under 
which, however, the dark patches still exist, and can be seen by holding the fish in 
certain lights, or by rubbing off the lightly clinging scales. At this period the fish is 
called a Smolt. 

It now prepares itself for an excursion to the sea, and, urged by an irresistible instinct, 
finds its way down the stream, until it at last emerges into the ocean. What may be the 
course of its marine life is not known, the fish being lost in the wide expanse of ocean ; 
but, in the course of the autumn, it returns to the river whence it came, and forces its way 
up the stream. The technical name for the fish is now Grilse or Salmon Peal, and after 
its second visit to the sea it is called a Salmon. After spawning, the fish is in very bad 
condition, and is known by the name of Kelt. The flesh is then white, evil-smelling, and 
loathsome to a degree ; nevertheless the French consume vast quantities of it disguised 
by the arts of cookery, and hundreds of tons are annually exported to Paris during the 
" close " season, to the great injury and destruction of our fisheries. 

An animated controversy has raged at intervals respecting the identity of so changeable 
a fish at the several epochs of its life, and few persons seem to be able to decide positively 
whether certain fishes are young Salmon, or a separate species called by the name of Parr. 

It nas been thought by many practical observers that, as in the so-called Parr which 
is marked just like the young Salmon the milt, or soft roe as it is more popularly called, 
is fully developed, the creature must have reached adult age. But the female Parr has 
never yet been found with spawn in the same perfect condition, and experiments have 
been proved that the very young male Salmon, when only weighing an ounce and a half, 
and being about the size of a man's finger, has the milt fully developed, and capable of 
vivifying the eggs of the adult female Salmon. It may be casually observed that the 
young of the Salmonidae bear a great resemblance to each other, and that the word Pan- 
is used in a very vague and loose manner. 

The perseverance shown, and the bodily efforts made by the Salmon in passing up the 
stream are really wonderful. No rapid seems too powerful to be overcome, and even 
falls of a considerable height are surmounted with marvellous force and address, the fish 
shooting from the bed of the river and concentrating all its forces into a simultaneous 
effort which drives it high into the air. It often happens that the fish leaps short of its 
mark, or alights in a wrong place, and is swept down again by the falling waters. 
Nothing daunted, however, it recommences its efforts, and is sure at last to succeed. 
An ingenious arrangement of alternate stages is now often affixed by proprietors to a 
fall where it is too high for the Salmon to pass it by a single spring. The fish soon find 
out this water staircase, and flock to the spot in preference to attempting the passage in 
any other locality. 

Traps and nets of various kinds are often fixed at the falls, so as to catch the fish that 
have not made good their leap, or who happen to shoot out of the right direction. 

During their whole lives the Salmon continue to migrate to the sea, invariably 
if possible returning to the identical river in which they were born. This migration is 


useful in the extreme, as the fish is liable to be infested while in the river with various 
parasitic animals, which cannot endure salt water, and fall off on its entrance into the 
sea, while the marine parasites are in a similar manner killed by fresh water, and die 
when the fish re-enters the rivers. 

The Salmon is a most voracious fish, and its mouth is supplied with a tremendous 
array of teeth. In the upper jaw, the edge of the jaw-bone is supplied with a row of teeth ; 
inside which runs a second row based on the bones of the palate. Along the roof of the 
mouth is placed a single straight row of teeth, set on a bone technically called the "vomer." 
The lower jaw-bone is furnished with its row of teeth to match those of the upper jaw, 
and each edge of the tongue is also toothed. When the jaws are closed, these complicated 
teeth lock into each other in a most admirable fashion, the single row of the under jaw 
fitting between the two ranks of the upper jaw, and the straight row of teeth on the vomer 
exactly coming between the two sets of tongue teeth. The vomerine teeth are, however, 
only to be found in perfection in the young fish, as they are gradually lost during the 
growth of their owner, and in an old fish are mostly reduced to two or three in number, 
while in some very old specimens one solitary tooth remains, set on the very front of the 
vomer, the sole survivor of the former array. 

The food of the Salmon is extremely varied, as must necessarily be the case with a fish 
that passes its life alternately in fresh and salt water, and is certainly of an animal nature, 
but the precise creatures that form its sustenance are not accurately known; it is, 
however, known to feed largely on some varieties of the echinus, or sea-urchin. 
Fastidious as the Salmon may be in some cases, it is sadly indiscriminate in others, 
as is shown by the artificial fly which is made expressly for its capture. This extra- 
ordinary composition of gaudy feathers, gold and silver thread, and various heterogeneous 
materials, that are fastened on a large hook, and termed a " Salmon fly," has not the least 
resemblance to any insect that ever existed, and it is hardly possible to believe that the 
fish can be deluded into the idea that such an object belongs to the insect race. Perhaps 
the Salmon may be attracted by the very novelty of the object, and be induced to snap 
at it under the idea of securing a new dainty. 

The Salmon is one of those fish that must be eaten fresh, in order to preserve the full 
delicacy of its flavour. If it be cooked within an hour or two after being taken from the 
water, a fatty substance, termed the " curd," is found between the flakes of flesh. If, 
however, more than twelve hours have elapsed from the death of the fish, the curd is not 
to be seen, and the Salmon is much deteriorated in the judgment of epicures. 

It has already been mentioned that the colour of the Salmon changes greatly during 
the course of its life. In the adult fish, the back and upper part of the head are dark 
blackish blue, the abdomen is glittering white, and the sides are of an intermediate tint 
On the body, and especially above the lateral line, a few dark spots are scattered. During 
the breeding season, the male Salmon assumes its most vivid hues, an orange golden tint 
spreading over the body, and the cheeks being marked with bright orange streaks. The size 
of this fish is extremely variable, some specimens having been caught that weighed sixty 
pounds, and Mr. Yarrell mentions one case where a female Salmon was captured about the 
year 1821, and was remarkable for weighing eighty-three pounds. This great weight was 
owing more to the depth and thickness of the fish than the length. 

NEXT to the salmon, the bright-scaled carmine-speckled active TKOUT is perhaps the 
greatest favourite of anglers, and fully deserves the eulogies of all lovers of the rod ; its 
peculiarly delicate flesh, its fastidious voracity, and the mixture of strength, agility, and 
spirited courage with which it endeavours to free itself from the hook, forming a 
combination of excellences rarely met with in any individual fish. 

The Trout is found in rapid and clear-running streams, but cares not for the open and 
shallow parts of the river, preferring the shelter of some stone or hole in the bank, whence 
it may watch for prey. Like the pike, it haunts some especial hiding-place, and, in a 
similar manner, is sure to take possession of a favourable haunt that has been rendered 
vacant by the demise of its predecessor or its promotion to superior quarters. Various baits 
are used in fishing for Trout, such as the worm, the minnow, and the fly, both natural and 


artificial, the latter being certainly the neatest and most artistic method. The arcana of 
angling are not within the province of this work ; and for information on that subject, the 
reader is referred to the many valuable works which have been written by accomplished 
masters of the art. 

There is a curious method of catching Trout, much in vogue among the juvenile fishers. 
This process is called " tickling," and is managed as follows : The tickler gets quietly into 
the stream, and walks slowly along the banks, feeling carefully for any depression or 
cavity. One hand is then introduced very gently, while the other is placed over the 
entrance of the hole, the fingers being spread so as to prevent the exit of any fish that 
may happen to be resident in that locality. Several such cavities may be tried without 
success, but at last the smooth side of a fish is felt by the finger-tips. 

TROUT. Soimo /orio. 

The startled fish gives a great flounce on being touched, and tries to dash out of the 
hole, but, being checked by the spread hand, retires to the recesses of its cavern. The 
finger-tips are then gently brought against the abdomen of the fish, which soon endures 
the contact, and permits the hand gradually to inclose it. As soon as that is the case, the 
fish is suddenly grasped, snatched out of the hole, and flung ashore before it can find time 
to struggle from the captor's hold. Some accomplished ticklers aver themselves to be 
capable of thrusting the fore-finger into the gill and out at the mouth, and hooking out the 
fish in this singular manner. 

The colour of the Trout is yellowish brown above, speckled with dark reddish brown, 
and a number of carmine spots are scattered along each side of the lateral line. The 
abdomen is silvery white, and the lower part of the sides rich golden yellow. There is, 
however, considerable variation in the colour of the Trout, the locality having considerable 
influence upon the tints. 

One or two other species of this genus are found in British waters, and require a 
passing notice. 

The BULL, or GREY TKOUT (Salmo eriox) is found in several of our rivers, and in the 
Tweed is tolerably common. It often attains a very large size, but a specimen weighing 
more than fifteen pounds is not very common. 

The SALMON TEOUT (Salmo trutta), is another British species, and in general habits 
is very like the salmon, migrating to the sea, and returning to the rivers in a 
similar fashion. 



The CHAER (Salmo salvelinus), the well-known and delicately flavoured SMELT (Osmerus 
eperlanus), called also the SPIRLTNG or SPARLING, the GRAYLING (Thymallus vulgaris), the 
VENDACE (Goregonus Willoughbii), and the ARGENTINE (Scopelus Humboldtii), so useful for 
bait, all belong to the same family as the salmon and the trout. 

The PIRAYA, or PIRAI, has been removed from the salmonidae and placed in another 
family on account of certain structural differences. 

This fish is very plentiful in the rivers of Guiana and Brazil, where it swims in large 
troops, and is, according to many accounts, a very