From the other animals of the order the Porcupines are so readily distinguished by the long and pointed spines with which their body is armed, that it is unnecessary to dwell on their generic characters. The common Porcupine, when fully grown, as in the remarkably fine specimen figured over leaf, measures more than two feet from the tip of the nose to the origin of the tail. The spines, which are supported by a slender pedicel, thickly clothe the upper and posterior parts of the body, the largest being more than a foot in length; they are regularly surrounded by alternate rings of black and white. The head and neck are crested with long, bristly, black hairs, forming a kind of mane, and all the rest of the body is covered with short black hair.
If the Boas furnish the most terrible examples of the tremendous powers of destruction possessed by a few of that division of the Serpent tribe, whose bite is unattended with the effusion of venom, the Rattlesnakes afford a no less remarkable instance of the dreadful malignity of the poison with which others of the tribe are so abundantly supplied. This poison is secreted by a gland of considerable size situated beneath the eye, the excretory duct of which terminates on each side at the base of a long and tubular fang in the upper jaw, which is concealed while the animal is at rest in a fold of the gum, but is capable of being instantaneously erected when he is irritated, and affords at the same time the means of inflicting the wound and of insinuating into it the deadly fluid with which it is charged. In the Rattlesnakes these two fangs are the only visible teeth implanted in the upper jaw; but behind each of them are several rudiments of others by which they are from time to time replaced. Their other distinguishing characters consist in the whole of the transverse plates which cover the under surface of the body and of the tail being simple, and in the singular apparatus by which the latter is terminated, and which is formed of a series, more or less numerous according to the age of the individual, of flattened rings loosely attached one within the other in such a manner as to produce a peculiar rattling sound when the tail is moved with any degree of quickness. The number of rings commonly varies from five to twelve; but in very old specimens it is said to have been found to exceed forty.
Of this the individual Lioness now in the Tower affords a striking example. We have already observed in our account of the Lion that, for a considerable time after her arrival in England, she was so tame as to be allowed frequently to roam at large about the open yard; and even long after it had been judged expedient that this degree of liberty should no longer be granted, her disposition was far from exciting any particular fear in the minds of her keepers. As an instance of this, we may mention that when, on one occasion about a year and a half ago, she had been suffered through inadvertence to leave her den, and when she was by no means in good temper, George Willoughway, the under keeper, had the boldness, alone and armed only with a stick, to venture upon the task of driving her back into her place of confinement; which he finally accomplished, not however without strong symptoms of resistance on her part, as she actually made three springs upon him, all of which he was fortunate enough to avoid.下载
Lemur Albifrons. Geoff.下载
It would be superfluous to enter into any detail of his habits, which correspond but too well with those of his fellow cats already described, and are only modified by his want of equal power. This deficiency is, however, in a great measure supplied by the extreme pliability of his spine, which gives to his motions a degree of velocity, agility, and precision combined, that is altogether unequalled by any other quadruped, and to which the greater lateral compression of his body, the increased length and more slender proportions of his limbs, and the suppleness of all his joints must of necessity materially contribute. Equally savage, equally dastardly, and equally cruel, he closely imitates the manners of the Lion and the Tiger, on a somewhat reduced, but still formidable, scale. Antilopes, monkeys, and the smaller quadrupeds constitute his usual prey, upon which he darts forth from his secret stand, and which he pertinaciously pursues even upon the trees where they may have taken refuge, climbing after them with surprising agility. Man he generally endeavours, if possible, to avoid; but, when hard pressed, he fears not to make head against the hunter; and it frequently requires the exertion of no common share of skill and intrepidity in the latter to save himself from the deadly fangs of the infuriated object of his pursuit. Occasionally, indeed, the cravings of hunger stimulate the treacherous animal to attack the unwary woodcutter, or the lone traveller whose path has led to his secret haunts; but in this case he rarely, if ever, shows himself openly in the face of day, but watches with insidious glare for the fatal opportunity of springing upon his wretched victim from behind, and of annihilating his power of resistance before it could possibly be exerted in his defence.