So much for the generative processes in snakes and insects, and also in oviparous quadrupeds. Birds without exception lay eggs, but the pairing season and the times of parturition are not alike for all. Some birds couple and lay at almost any time in the year, as for instance the barn-door hen and the pigeon: the former of these coupling and laying during the entire year, with the exception of the month before and the month after the winter solstice. Some hens, even in the high breeds, lay a large quantity of eggs before brooding, amounting to as many as sixty; and, by the way, the higher breeds are less prolific than the inferior ones. The Adrian hens are small-sized, but they lay every day; they are cross-tempered, and often kill their chickens; they are of all colours. Some domesticated hens lay twice a day; indeed, instances have been known where hens, after exhibiting extreme fecundity, have died suddenly. Hens, then, lay eggs, as has been stated, at all times indiscriminately; the pigeon, the ring-dove, the turtle-dove, and the stock-dove lay twice a year, and the pigeon actually lays ten times a year. The great majority of birds lay during the spring-time. Some birds are prolific, and prolific in either of two ways-either by laying often, as the pigeon, or by laying many eggs at a sitting, as the barn-door hen. All birds of prey, or birds with crooked talons, are unprolific, except the kestrel: this bird is the most prolific of birds of prey; as many as four eggs have been observed in the nest, and occasionally it lays even more.
Birds in general lay their eggs in nests, but such as are disqualified for flight, as the partridge and the quail, do not lay them in nests but on the ground, and cover them over with loose material. The same is the case with the lark and the tetrix. These birds hatch in sheltered places; but the bird called merops in Boeotia, alone of all birds, burrows into holes in the ground and hatches there.
Thrushes, like swallows, build nests of clay, on high trees, and build them in rows all close together, so that from their continuity the structure resembles a necklace of nests. Of all birds that hatch for themselves the hoopoe is the only one that builds no nest whatever; it gets into the hollow of the trunk of a tree, and lays its eggs there without making any sort of nest. The circus builds either under a dwelling-roof or on cliffs. The tetrix, called ourax in Athens, builds neither on the ground nor on trees, but on low-lying shrubs.
The egg in the case of all birds alike is hard-shelled, if it be the produce of copulation and be laid by a healthy hen-for some hens lay soft eggs. The interior of the egg is of two colours, and the white part is outside and the yellow part within.
The eggs of birds that frequent rivers and marshes differ from those of birds that live on dry land; that is to say, the eggs of waterbirds have comparatively more of the yellow or yolk and less of the white. Eggs vary in colour according to their kind. Some eggs are white, as those of the pigeon and of the partridge; others are yellowish, as the eggs of marsh birds; in some cases the eggs are mottled, as the eggs of the guinea-fowl and the pheasant; while the eggs of the kestrel are red, like vermilion.
Eggs are not symmetrically shaped at both ends: in other words, one end is comparatively sharp, and the other end is comparatively blunt; and it is the latter end that protrudes first at the time of laying. Long and pointed eggs are female; those that are round, or more rounded at the narrow end, are male. Eggs are hatched by the incubation of the mother-bird. In some cases, as in Egypt, they are hatched spontaneously in the ground, by being buried in dung heaps. A story is told of a toper in Syracuse, how he used to put eggs into the ground under his rush-mat and to keep on drinking until he hatched them. Instances have occurred of eggs being deposited in warm vessels and getting hatched spontaneously.
The sperm of birds, as of animals in general, is white. After the female has submitted to the male, she draws up the sperm to underneath her midriff. At first it is little in size and white in colour; by and by it is red, the colour of blood; as it grows, it becomes pale and yellow all over. When at length it is getting ripe for hatching, it is subject to differentiation of substance, and the yolk gathers together within and the white settles round it on the outside. When the full time is come, the egg detaches itself and protrudes, changing from soft to hard with such temporal exactitude that, whereas it is not hard during the process of protrusion, it hardens immediately after the process is completed: that is if there be no concomitant pathological circumstances. Cases have occurred where substances resembling the egg at a critical point of its growth-that is, when it is yellow all over, as the yolk is subsequently-have been found in the cock when cut open, underneath his midriff, just where the hen has her eggs; and these are entirely yellow in appearance and of the same size as ordinary eggs. Such phenomena are regarded as unnatural and portentous.
Such as affirm that wind-eggs are the residua of eggs previously begotten from copulation are mistaken in this assertion, for we have cases well authenticated where chickens of the common hen and goose have laid wind-eggs without ever having been subjected to copulation. Wind-eggs are smaller, less palatable, and more liquid than true eggs, and are produced in greater numbers. When they are put under the mother bird, the liquid contents never coagulate, but both the yellow and the white remain as they were. Wind-eggs are laid by a number of birds: as for instance by the common hen, the hen partridge, the hen pigeon, the peahen, the goose, and the vulpanser. Eggs are hatched under brooding hens more rapidly in summer than in winter; that is to say, hens hatch in eighteen days in summer, but occasionally in winter take as many as twenty-five. And by the way for brooding purposes some birds make better mothers than others. If it thunders while a hen-bird is brooding, the eggs get addled. Wind-eggs that are called by some cynosura and uria are produced chiefly in summer. Wind-eggs are called by some zephyr-eggs, because at spring-time hen-birds are observed to inhale the breezes; they do the same if they be stroked in a peculiar way by hand. Wind-eggs can turn into fertile eggs, and eggs due to previous copulation can change breed, if before the change of the yellow to the white the hen that contains wind-eggs, or eggs begotten of copulation be trodden by another cock-bird. Under these circumstances the wind-eggs turn into fertile eggs, and the previously impregnated eggs follow the breed of the impregnator; but if the latter impregnation takes place during the change of the yellow to the white, then no change in the egg takes place: the wind-egg does not become a true egg, and the true egg does not take on the breed of the latter impregnator. If when the egg-substance is small copulation be intermitted, the previously existing egg-substance exhibits no increase; but if the hen be again submitted to the male the increase in size proceeds with rapidity.
The yolk and the white are diverse not only in colour but also in properties. Thus, the yolk congeals under the influence of cold, whereas the white instead of congealing is inclined rather to liquefy. Again, the white stiffens under the influence of fire, whereas the yolk does not stiffen; but, unless it be burnt through and through, it remains soft, and in point of fact is inclined to set or to harden more from the boiling than from the roasting of the egg. The yolk and the white are separated by a membrane from one another. The so-called ‘hail-stones’, or treadles, that are found at the extremity of the yellow in no way contribute towards generation, as some erroneously suppose: they are two in number, one below and the other above. If you take out of the shells a number of yolks and a number of whites and pour them into a sauce pan and boil them slowly over a low fire, the yolks will gather into the centre and the whites will set all around them.
Young hens are the first to lay, and they do so at the beginning of spring and lay more eggs than the older hens, but the eggs of the younger hens are comparatively small. As a general rule, if hens get no brooding they pine and sicken. After copulation hens shiver and shake themselves, and often kick rubbish about all round them-and this, by the way, they do sometimes after laying-whereas pigeons trail their rumps on the ground, and geese dive under the water. Conception of the true egg and conformation of the wind-egg take place rapidly with most birds; as for instance with the hen-partridge when in heat. The fact is that, when she stands to windward and within scent of the male, she conceives, and becomes useless for decoy purposes: for, by the way, the partridge appears to have a very acute sense of smell.
The generation of the egg after copulation and the generation of the chick from the subsequent hatching of the egg are not brought about within equal periods for all birds, but differ as to time according to the size of the parent-birds. The egg of the common hen after copulation sets and matures in ten days a general rule; the egg of the pigeon in a somewhat lesser period. Pigeons have the faculty of holding back the egg at the very moment of parturition; if a hen pigeon be put about by any one, for instance if it be disturbed on its nest, or have a feather plucked out, or sustain any other annoyance or disturbance, then even though she had made up her mind to lay she can keep the egg back in abeyance. A singular phenomenon is observed in pigeons with regard to pairing: that is, they kiss one another just when the male is on the point of mounting the female, and without this preliminary the male would decline to perform his function. With the older males the preliminary kiss is only given to begin with, and subsequently sequently he mounts without previously kissing; with younger males the preliminary is never omitted. Another singularity in these birds is that the hens tread one another when a cock is not forthcoming, after kissing one another just as takes place in the normal pairing. Though they do not impregnate one another they lay more eggs under these than under ordinary circumstances; no chicks, however, result therefrom, but all such eggs are wind-eggs.
Generation from the egg proceeds in an identical manner with all birds, but the full periods from conception to birth differ, as has been said. With the common hen after three days and three nights there is the first indication of the embryo; with larger birds the interval being longer, with smaller birds shorter. Meanwhile the yolk comes into being, rising towards the sharp end, where the primal element of the egg is situated, and where the egg gets hatched; and the heart appears, like a speck of blood, in the white of the egg. This point beats and moves as though endowed with life, and from it two vein-ducts with blood in them trend in a convoluted course (as the egg substance goes on growing, towards each of the two circumjacent integuments); and a membrane carrying bloody fibres now envelops the yolk, leading off from the vein-ducts. A little afterwards the body is differentiated, at first very small and white. The head is clearly distinguished, and in it the eyes, swollen out to a great extent. This condition of the eyes lat on for a good while, as it is only by degrees that they diminish in size and collapse. At the outset the under portion of the body appears insignificant in comparison with the upper portion. Of the two ducts that lead from the heart, the one proceeds towards the circumjacent integument, and the other, like a navel-string, towards the yolk. The life-element of the chick is in the white of the egg, and the nutriment comes through the navel-string out of the yolk.
When the egg is now ten days old the chick and all its parts are distinctly visible. The head is still larger than the rest of its body, and the eyes larger than the head, but still devoid of vision. The eyes, if removed about this time, are found to be larger than beans, and black; if the cuticle be peeled off them there is a white and cold liquid inside, quite glittering in the sunlight, but there is no hard substance whatsoever. Such is the condition of the head and eyes. At this time also the larger internal organs are visible, as also the stomach and the arrangement of the viscera; and veins that seem to proceed from the heart are now close to the navel. From the navel there stretch a pair of veins; one towards the membrane that envelops the yolk (and, by the way, the yolk is now liquid, or more so than is normal), and the other towards that membrane which envelops collectively the membrane wherein the chick lies, the membrane of the yolk, and the intervening liquid. (For, as the chick grows, little by little one part of the yolk goes upward, and another part downward, and the white liquid is between them; and the white of the egg is underneath the lower part of the yolk, as it was at the outset.) On the tenth day the white is at the extreme outer surface, reduced in amount, glutinous, firm in substance, and sallow in colour.
The disposition of the several constituent parts is as follows. First and outermost comes the membrane of the egg, not that of the shell, but underneath it. Inside this membrane is a white liquid; then comes the chick, and a membrane round about it, separating it off so as to keep the chick free from the liquid; next after the chick comes the yolk, into which one of the two veins was described as leading, the other one leading into the enveloping white substance. (A membrane with a liquid resembling serum envelops the entire structure. Then comes another membrane right round the embryo, as has been described, separating it off against the liquid. Underneath this comes the yolk, enveloped in another membrane (into which yolk proceeds the navel-string that leads from the heart and the big vein), so as to keep the embryo free of both liquids.)
About the twentieth day, if you open the egg and touch the chick, it moves inside and chirps; and it is already coming to be covered with down, when, after the twentieth day is ast, the chick begins to break the shell. The head is situated over the right leg close to the flank, and the wing is placed over the head; and about this time is plain to be seen the membrane resembling an after-birth that comes next after the outermost membrane of the shell, into which membrane the one of the navel-strings was described as leading (and, by the way, the chick in its entirety is now within it), and so also is the other membrane resembling an after-birth, namely that surrounding the yolk, into which the second navel-string was described as leading; and both of them were described as being connected with the heart and the big vein. At this conjuncture the navel-string that leads to the outer afterbirth collapses and becomes detached from the chick, and the membrane that leads into the yolk is fastened on to the thin gut of the creature, and by this time a considerable amount of the yolk is inside the chick and a yellow sediment is in its stomach. About this time it discharges residuum in the direction of the outer after-birth, and has residuum inside its stomach; and the outer residuum is white (and there comes a white substance inside). By and by the yolk, diminishing gradually in size, at length becomes entirely used up and comprehended within the chick (so that, ten days after hatching, if you cut open the chick, a small remnant of the yolk is still left in connexion with the gut), but it is detached from the navel, and there is nothing in the interval between, but it has been used up entirely. During the period above referred to the chick sleeps, wakes up, makes a move and looks up and Chirps; and the heart and the navel together palpitate as though the creature were respiring. So much as to generation from the egg in the case of birds.
Birds lay some eggs that are unfruitful, even eggs that are the result of copulation, and no life comes from such eggs by incubation; and this phenomenon is observed especially with pigeons.
Twin eggs have two yolks. In some twin eggs a thin partition of white intervenes to prevent the yolks mixing with each other, but some twin eggs are unprovided with such partition, and the yokes run into one another. There are some hens that lay nothing but twin eggs, and in their case the phenomenon regarding the yolks has been observed. For instance, a hen has been known to lay eighteen eggs, and to hatch twins out of them all, except those that were wind-eggs; the rest were fertile (though, by the way, one of the twins is always bigger than the other), but the eighteenth was abnormal or monstrous.
Birds of the pigeon kind, such as the ringdove and the turtle-dove, lay two eggs at a time; that is to say, they do so as a general rule, and they never lay more than three. The pigeon, as has been said, lays at all seasons; the ring-dove and the turtle-dove lay in the springtime, and they never lay more than twice in the same season. The hen-bird lays the second pair of eggs when the first pair happens to have been destroyed, for many of the hen-pigeons destroy the first brood. The hen-pigeon, as has been said, occasionally lays three eggs, but it never rears more than two chicks, and sometimes rears only one; and the odd one is always a wind-egg.
Very few birds propagate within their first year. All birds, after once they have begun laying, keep on having eggs, though in the case of some birds it is difficult to detect the fact from the minute size of the creature.
The pigeon, as a rule, lays a male and a female egg, and generally lays the male egg first; after laying it allows a day’s interval to ensue and then lays the second egg. The male takes its turn of sitting during the daytime; the female sits during the night. The first-laid egg is hatched and brought to birth within twenty days; and the mother bird pecks a hole in the egg the day before she hatches it out. The two parent birds brood for some time over the chicks in the way in which they brooded previously over the eggs. In all connected with the rearing of the young the female parent is more cross-tempered than the male, as is the case with most animals after parturition. The hens lay as many as ten times in the year; occasional instances have been known of their laying eleven times, and in Egypt they actually lay twelve times. The pigeon, male and female, couples within the year; in fact, it couples when only six months old. Some assert that ringdoves and turtle-doves pair and procreate when only three months old, and instance their superabundant numbers by way of proof of the assertion. The hen-pigeon carries her eggs fourteen days; for as many more days the parent birds hatch the eggs; by the end of another fourteen days the chicks are so far capable of flight as to be overtaken with difficulty. (The ring-dove, according to all accounts, lives up to forty years. The partridge lives over sixteen.) (After one brood the pigeon is ready for another within thirty days.)
The vulture builds its nest on inaccessible cliffs; for which reason its nest and young are rarely seen. And therefore Herodorus, father of Bryson the Sophist, declares that vultures belong to some foreign country unknown to us, stating as a proof of the assertion that no one has ever seen a vulture’s nest, and also that vultures in great numbers make a sudden appearance in the rear of armies. However, difficult as it is to get a sight of it, a vulture’s nest has been seen. The vulture lays two eggs.
(Carnivorous birds in general are observed to lay but once a year. The swallow is the only carnivorous bird that builds a nest twice. If you prick out the eyes of swallow chicks while they are yet young, the birds will get well again and will see by and by.)
The eagle lays three eggs and hatches two of them, as it is said in the verses ascribed to Musaeus:
That lays three, hatches two, and cares for one.
This is the case in most instances, though occasionally a brood of three has been observed. As the young ones grow, the mother becomes wearied with feeding them and extrudes one of the pair from the nest. At the same time the bird is said to abstain from food, to avoid harrying the young of wild animals. That is to say, its wings blanch, and for some days its talons get turned awry. It is in consequence about this time cross-tempered to its own young. The phene is said to rear the young one that has been expelled the nest. The eagle broods for about thirty days.
The hatching period is about the same for the larger birds, such as the goose and the great bustard; for the middle-sized birds it extends over about twenty days, as in the case of the kite and the hawk. The kite in general lays two eggs, but occasionally rears three young ones. The so-called aegolius at times rears four. It is not true that, as some aver, the raven lays only two eggs; it lays a larger number. It broods for about twenty days and then extrudes its young. Other birds perform the same operation; at all events mother birds that lay several eggs often extrude one of their young.
Birds of the eagle species are not alike in the treatment of their young. The white-tailed eagle is cross, the black eagle is affectionate in the feeding of the young; though, by the way, all birds of prey, when their brood is rather forward in being able to fly, beat and extrude them from the nest. The majority of birds other than birds of prey, as has been said, also act in this manner, and after feeding their young take no further care of them; but the crow is an exception. This bird for a considerable time takes charge of her young; for, even when her young can fly, she flies alongside of them and supplies them with food.
The cuckoo is said by some to be a hawk transformed, because at the time of the cuckoo’s coming, the hawk, which it resembles, is never seen; and indeed it is only for a few days that you will see hawks about when the cuckoo’s note sounds early in the season. The cuckoo appears only for a short time in summer, and in winter disappears. The hawk has crooked talons, which the cuckoo has not; neither with regard to the head does the cuckoo resemble the hawk. In point of fact, both as regards the head and the claws it more resembles the pigeon. However, in colour and in colour alone it does resemble the hawk, only that the markings of the hawk are striped, and of the cuckoo mottled. And, by the way, in size and flight it resembles the smallest of the hawk tribe, which bird disappears as a rule about the time of the appearance of the cuckoo, though the two have been seen simultaneously. The cuckoo has been seen to be preyed on by the hawk; and this never happens between birds of the same species. They say no one has ever seen the young of the cuckoo. The bird eggs, but does not build a nest. Sometimes it lays its eggs in the nest of a smaller bird after first devouring the eggs of this bird; it lays by preference in the nest of the ringdove, after first devouring the eggs of the pigeon. (It occasionally lays two, but usually one.) It lays also in the nest of the hypolais, and the hypolais hatches and rears the brood. It is about this time that the bird becomes fat and palatable. (The young of hawks also get palatable and fat. One species builds a nest in the wilderness and on sheer and inaccessible cliffs.)
With most birds, as has been said of the pigeon, the hatching is carried on by the male and the female in turns: with some birds, however, the male only sits long enough to allow the female to provide herself with food. In the goose tribe the female alone incubates, and after once sitting on the eggs she continues brooding until they are hatched.
The nests of all marsh-birds are built in districts fenny and well supplied with grass; consequently, the mother-bird while sitting quiet on her eggs can provide herself with food without having to submit to absolute fasting.
With the crow also the female alone broods, and broods throughout the whole period; the male bird supports the female, bringing her food and feeding her. The female of the ring-dove begins to brood in the afternoon and broods through the entire night until breakfast-time of the following day; the male broods during the rest of the time. Partridges build a nest in two compartments; the male broods on the one and the female on the other. After hatching, each of the parent birds rears its brood. But the male, when he first takes his young out of the nest, treads them.
Peafowl live for about twenty-five years, breed about the third year, and at the same time take on their spangled plumage. They hatch their eggs within thirty days or rather more. The peahen lays but once a year, and lays twelve eggs, or may be a slightly lesser number: she does not lay all the eggs there and then one after the other, but at intervals of two or three days. Such as lay for the first time lay about eight eggs. The peahen lays wind-eggs. They pair in the spring; and laying begins immediately after pairing. The bird moults when the earliest trees are shedding their leaves, and recovers its plumage when the same trees are recovering their foliage. People that rear peafowl put the eggs under the barn-door hen, owing to the fact that when the peahen is brooding over them the peacock attacks her and tries to trample on them; owing to this circumstance some birds of wild varieties run away from the males and lay their eggs and brood in solitude. Only two eggs are put under a barn-door hen, for she could not brood over and hatch a large number. They take every precaution, by supplying her with food, to prevent her going off the eggs and discontinuing the brooding.
With male birds about pairing time the testicles are obviously larger than at other times, and this is conspicuously the case with the more salacious birds, such as the barn-door cock and the cock partridge; the peculiarity is less conspicuous in such birds as are intermittent in regard to pairing.
So much for the conception and generation of birds.
It has been previously stated that fishes are not all oviparous. Fishes of the cartilaginous genus are viviparous; the rest are oviparous. And cartilaginous fishes are first oviparous internally and subsequently viviparous; they rear the embryos internally, the batrachus or fishing-frog being an exception.
Fishes also, as was above stated, are provided with wombs, and wombs of diverse kinds. The oviparous genera have wombs bifurcate in shape and low down in position; the cartilaginous genus have wombs shaped like those of O birds. The womb, however, in the cartilaginous fishes differs in this respect from the womb of birds, that with some cartilaginous fishes the eggs do not settle close to the diaphragm but middle-ways along the backbone, and as they grow they shift their position.
The egg with all fishes is not of two colours within but is of even hue; and the colour is nearer to white than to yellow, and that both when the young is inside it and previously as well.
Development from the egg in fishes differs from that in birds in this respect, that it does not exhibit that one of the two navel-strings that leads off to the membrane that lies close under the shell, while it does exhibit that one of the two that in the case of birds leads off to the yolk. In a general way the rest of the development from the egg onwards is identical in birds and fishes. That is to say, development takes place at the upper part of the egg, and the veins extend in like manner, at first from the heart; and at first the head, the eyes, and the upper parts are largest; and as the creature grows the egg-substance decreases and eventually disappears, and becomes absorbed within the embryo, just as takes place with the yolk in birds.
The navel-string is attached a little way below the aperture of the belly. When the creatures are young the navel-string is long, but as they grow it diminishes in size; at length it gets small and becomes incorporated, as was described in the case of birds. The embryo and the egg are enveloped by a common membrane, and just under this is another membrane that envelops the embryo by itself; and in between the two membranes is a liquid. The food inside the stomach of the little fishes resembles that inside the stomach of young chicks, and is partly white and partly yellow.
As regards the shape of the womb, the reader is referred to my treatise on Anatomy. The womb, however, is diverse in diverse fishes, as for instance in the sharks as compared one with another or as compared with the skate. That is to say, in some sharks the eggs adhere in the middle of the womb round about the backbone, as has been stated, and this is the case with the dog-fish; as the eggs grow they shift their place; and since the womb is bifurcate and adheres to the midriff, as in the rest of similar creatures, the eggs pass into one or other of the two compartments. This womb and the womb of the other sharks exhibit, as you go a little way off from the midriff, something resembling white breasts, which never make their appearance unless there be conception.
Dog-fish and skate have a kind of egg-shell, in the which is found an egg-like liquid. The shape of the egg-shell resembles the tongue of a bagpipe, and hair-like ducts are attached to the shell. With the dog-fish which is called by some the ‘dappled shark’, the young are born when the shell-formation breaks in pieces and falls out; with the ray, after it has laid the egg the shell-formation breaks up and the young move out. The spiny dog-fish has its close to the midriff above the breast like formations; when the egg descends, as soon as it gets detached the young is born. The mode of generation is the same in the case of the fox-shark.
The so-called smooth shark has its eggs in betwixt the wombs like the dog-fish; these eggs shift into each of the two horns of the womb and descend, and the young develop with the navel-string attached to the womb, so that, as the egg-substance gets used up, the embryo is sustained to all appearance just as in the case of quadrupeds. The navel-string is long and adheres to the under part of the womb (each navel-string being attached as it were by a sucker), and also to the centre of the embryo in the place where the liver is situated. If the embryo be cut open, even though it has the egg-substance no longer, the food inside is egg-like in appearance. Each embryo, as in the case of quadrupeds, is provided with a chorion and separate membranes. When young the embryo has its head upwards, but downwards when it gets strong and is completed in form. Males are generated on the left-hand side of the womb, and females on the right-hand side, and males and females on the same side together. If the embryo be cut open, then, as with quadrupeds, such internal organs as it is furnished with, as for instance the liver, are found to be large and supplied with blood.
All cartilaginous fishes have at one and the same time eggs above close to the midriff (some larger, some smaller), in considerable numbers, and also embryos lower down. And this circumstance leads many to suppose that fishes of this species pair and bear young every month, inasmuch as they do not produce all their young at once, but now and again and over a lengthened period. But such eggs as have come down below within the womb are simultaneously ripened and completed in growth.
Dog-fish in general can extrude and take in again their young, as can also the angel-fish and the electric ray-and, by the way, a large electric ray has been seen with about eighty embryos inside it-but the spiny dogfish is an exception to the rule, being prevented by the spine of the young fish from so doing. Of the flat cartilaginous fish, the trygon and the ray cannot extrude and take in again in consequence of the roughness of the tails of the young. The batrachus or fishing-frog also is unable to take in its young owing to the size of the head and the prickles; and, by the way, as was previously remarked, it is the only one of these fishes that is not viviparous.
So much for the varieties of the cartilaginous species and for their modes of generation from the egg.
At the breeding season the sperm-ducts of the male are filled with sperm, so much so that if they be squeezed the sperm flows out spontaneously as a white fluid; the ducts are bifurcate, and start from the midriff and the great vein. About this period the sperm-ducts of the male are quite distinct (from the womb of the female) but at any other than the actual breeding time their distinctness is not obvious to a non-expert. The fact is that in certain fishes at certain times these organs are imperceptible, as was stated regarding the testicles of birds.
Among other distinctions observed between the thoric ducts and the womb-ducts is the circumstance that the thoric ducts are attached to the loins, while the womb-ducts move about freely and are attached by a thin membrane. The particulars regarding the thoric ducts may be studied by a reference to the diagrams in my treatise on Anatomy.
Cartilaginous fishes are capable of superfoetation, and their period of gestation is six months at the longest. The so-called starry dogfish bears young the most frequently; in other words it bears twice a month. The breeding season is in the month of Maemacterion. The dog-fish as a general rule bear twice in the year, with the exception of the little dog-fish, which bears only once a year. Some of them bring forth in the springtime. The rhine, or angel-fish, bears its first brood in the springtime, and its second in the autumn, about the winter setting of the Pleiads; the second brood is the stronger of the two. The electric ray brings forth in the late autumn.
Cartilaginous fishes come out from the main seas and deep waters towards the shore and there bring forth their young, and they do so for the sake of warmth and by way of protection for their young.
Observations would lead to the general rule that no one variety of fish pairs with another variety. The angel-fish, however, and the batus or skate appear to pair with one another; for there is a fish called the rhinobatus, with the head and front parts of the skate and the after parts of the rhine or angel-fish, just as though it were made up of both fishes together.
Sharks then and their congeners, as the fox-shark and the dog-fish, and the flat fishes, such as the electric ray, the ray, the smooth skate, and the trygon, are first oviparous and then viviparous in the way above mentioned, (as are also the saw-fish and the ox-ray.)
The dolphin, the whale, and all the rest of the Cetacea, all, that is to say, that are provided with a blow-hole instead of gills, are viviparous. That is to say, no one of all these fishes is ever seen to be supplied with eggs, but directly with an embryo from whose differentiation comes the fish, just as in the case of mankind and the viviparous quadrupeds.
The dolphin bears one at a time generally, but occasionally two. The whale bears one or at the most two, generally two. The porpoise in this respect resembles the dolphin, and, by the way, it is in form like a little dolphin, and is found in the Euxine; it differs, however, from the dolphin as being less in size and broader in the back; its colour is leaden-black. Many people are of opinion that the porpoise is a variety of the dolphin.
All creatures that have a blow-hole respire and inspire, for they are provided with lungs. The dolphin has been seen asleep with his nose above water, and when asleep he snores.
The dolphin and the porpoise are provided with milk, and suckle their young. They also take their young, when small, inside them. The young of the dolphin grow rapidly, being full grown at ten years of age. Its period of gestation is ten months. It brings forth its young summer, and never at any other season; (and, singularly enough, under the Dogstar it disappears for about thirty days). Its young accompany it for a considerable period; and, in fact, the creature is remarkable for the strength of its parental affection. It lives for many years; some are known to have lived for more than twenty-five, and some for thirty years; the fact is fishermen nick their tails sometimes and set them adrift again, and by this expedient their ages are ascertained.
The seal is an amphibious animal: that is to say, it cannot take in water, but breathes and sleeps and brings forth on dry land-only close to the shore-as being an animal furnished with feet; it spends, however, the greater part of its time in the sea and derives its food from it, so that it must be classed in the category of marine animals. It is viviparous by immediate conception and brings forth its young alive, and exhibits an after-birth and all else just like a ewe. It bears one or two at a time, and three at the most. It has two teats, and suckles its young like a quadruped. Like the human species it brings forth at all seasons of the year, but especially at the time when the earliest kids are forthcoming. It conducts its young ones, when they are about twelve days old, over and over again during the day down to the sea, accustoming them by slow degrees to the water. It slips down steep places instead of walking, from the fact that it cannot steady itself by its feet. It can contract and draw itself in, for it is fleshy and soft and its bones are gristly. Owing to the flabbiness of its body it is difficult to kill a seal by a blow, unless you strike it on the temple. It looks like a cow. The female in regard to its genital organs resembles the female of the ray; in all other respects it resembles the female of the human species.
So much for the phenomena of generation and of parturition in animals that live in water and are viviparous either internally or externally.
Oviparous fishes have their womb bifurcate and placed low down, as was said previously-and, by the way, all scaly fish are oviparous, as the basse, the mullet, the grey mullet, and the etelis, and all the so-called white-fish, and all the smooth or slippery fish except the eel-and their roe is of a crumbling or granular substance. This appearance is due to the fact that the whole womb of such fishes is full of eggs, so that in little fishes there seem to be only a couple of eggs there; for in small fishes the womb is indistinguishable, from its diminutive size and thin contexture. The pairing of fishes has been discussed previously.
Fishes for the most part are divided into males and females, but one is puzzled to account for the erythrinus and the channa, for specimens of these species are never caught except in a condition of pregnancy.
With such fish as pair, eggs are the result of copulation, but such fish have them also without copulation; and this is shown in the case of some river-fish, for the minnow has eggs when quite small,-almost, one may say, as soon as it is born. These fishes shed their eggs little by little, and, as is stated, the males swallow the greater part of them, and some portion of them goes to waste in the water; but such of the eggs as the female deposits on the spawning beds are saved. If all the eggs were preserved, each species would be infinite in number. The greater number of these eggs so deposited are not productive, but only those over which the male sheds the milt or sperm; for when the female has laid her eggs, the male follows and sheds its sperm over them, and from all the eggs so besprinkled young fishes proceed, while the rest are left to their fate.
The same phenomenon is observed in the case of molluscs also; for in the case of the cuttlefish or sepia, after the female has deposited her eggs, the male besprinkles them. It is highly probable that a similar phenomenon takes place in regard to molluscs in general, though up to the present time the phenomenon has been observed only in the case of the cuttlefish.
Fishes deposit their eggs close in to shore, the goby close to stones; and, by the way, the spawn of the goby is flat and crumbly. Fish in general so deposit their eggs; for the water close in to shore is warm and is better supplied with food than the outer sea, and serves as a protection to the spawn against the voracity of the larger fish. And it is for this reason that in the Euxine most fishes spawn near the mouth of the river Thermodon, because the locality is sheltered, genial, and supplied with fresh water.
Oviparous fish as a rule spawn only once a year. The little phycis or black goby is an exception, as it spawns twice; the male of the black goby differs from the female as being blacker and having larger scales.
Fishes then in general produce their young by copulation, and lay their eggs; but the pipefish, as some call it, when the time of parturition arrives, bursts in two, and the eggs escape out. For the fish has a diaphysis or cloven growth under the belly and abdomen (like the blind snakes), and, after it has spawned by the splitting of this diaphysis, the sides of the split grow together again.
Development from the egg takes place similarly with fishes that are oviparous internally and with fishes that are oviparous externally; that is to say, the embryo comes at the upper end of the egg and is enveloped in a membrane, and the eyes, large and spherical, are the first organs visible. From this circumstance it is plain that the assertion is untenable which is made by some writers, to wit, that the young of oviparous fishes are generated like the grubs of worms; for the opposite phenomena are observed in the case of these grubs, in that their lower extremities are the larger at the outset, and that the eyes and the head appear later on. After the egg has been used up, the young fishes are like tadpoles in shape, and at first, without taking any nutriment, they grow by sustenance derived from the juice oozing from the egg; by and by, they are nourished up to full growth by the river-waters.
When the Euxine is ‘purged’ a substance called phycus is carried into the Hellespont, and this substance is of a pale yellow colour. Some writers aver that it is the flower of the phycus, from which rouge is made; it comes at the beginning of summer. Oysters and the small fish of these localities feed on this substance, and some of the inhabitants of these maritime districts say that the purple murex derives its peculiar colour from it.
Marsh-fishes and river-fishes conceive at the age of five months as a general rule, and deposit their spawn towards the close of the year without exception. And with these fishes, like as with the marine fishes, the female does not void all her eggs at one time, nor the male his sperm; but they are at all times more or less provided, the female with eggs, and the male with sperm. The-carp spawns as the seasons come round, five or six times, and follows in spawning the rising of the greater constellations. The chalcis spawns three times, and the other fishes once only in the year. They all spawn in pools left by the overflowing of rivers, and near to reedy places in marshes; as for instance the phoxinus or minnow and the perch.
The glanis or sheat-fish and the perch deposit their spawn in one continuous string, like the frog; so continuous, in fact, is the convoluted spawn of the perch that, by reason of its smoothness, the fishermen in the marshes can unwind it off the reeds like threads off a reel. The larger individuals of the sheat-fish spawn in deep waters, some in water of a fathom’s depth, the smaller in shallower water, generally close to the roots of the willow or of some other tree, or close to reeds or to moss. At times these fishes intertwine with one another, a big with a little one, and bring into juxtaposition the ducts-which some writers designate as navels-at the point where they emit the generative products and discharge the egg in the case of the female and the milt in the case of the male. Such eggs as are besprinkled with the milt grow, in a day or thereabouts, whiter and larger, and in a little while afterwards the fish’s eyes become visible for these organs in all fishes, as for that matter in all other animals, are early conspicuous and seem disproportionately big. But such eggs as the milt fails to touch remain, as with marine fishes, useless and infertile. From the fertile eggs, as the little fish grow, a kind of sheath detaches itself; this is a membrane that envelops the egg and the young fish. When the milt has mingled with the eggs, the resulting product becomes very sticky or viscous, and adheres to the roots of trees or wherever it may have been laid. The male keeps on guard at the principal spawning-place, and the female after spawning goes away.
In the case of the sheat-fish the growth from the egg is exceptionally slow, and, in consequence, the male has to keep watch for forty or fifty days to prevent the-spawn being devoured by such little fishes as chance to come by. Next in point of slowness is the generation of the carp. As with fishes in general, so even with these, the spawn thus protected disappears and gets lost rapidly.
In the case of some of the smaller fishes when they are only three days old young fishes are generated. Eggs touched by the male sperm take on increase both the same day and also later. The egg of the sheat-fish is as big as a vetch-seed; the egg of the carp and of the carp-species as big as a millet-seed.
These fishes then spawn and generate in the way here described. The chalcis, however, spawns in deep water in dense shoals of fish; and the so-called tilon spawns near to beaches in sheltered spots in shoals likewise. The carp, the baleros, and fishes in general push eagerly into the shallows for the purpose of spawning, and very often thirteen or fourteen males are seen following a single female. When the female deposits her spawn and departs, the males follow on and shed the milt. The greater portion of the spawn gets wasted; because, owing to the fact that the female moves about while spawning, the spawn scatters, or so much of it as is caught in the stream and does not get entangled with some rubbish. For, with the exception of the sheatfish, no fish keeps on guard; unless, by the way, it be the carp, which is said to remain on guard, if it so happen that its spawn lies in a solid mass.
All male fishes are supplied with milt, excepting the eel: with the eel, the male is devoid of milt, and the female of spawn. The mullet goes up from the sea to marshes and rivers; the eels, on the contrary, make their way down from the marshes and rivers to the sea.
The great majority of fish, then, as has been stated, proceed from eggs. However, there are some fish that proceed from mud and sand, even of those kinds that proceed also from pairing and the egg. This occurs in ponds here and there, and especially in a pond in the neighbourhood of Cnidos. This pond, it is said, at one time ran dry about the rising of the Dogstar, and the mud had all dried up; at the first fall of the rains there was a show of water in the pond, and on the first appearance of the water shoals of tiny fish were found in the pond. The fish in question was a kind of mullet, one which does not proceed from normal pairing, about the size of a small sprat, and not one of these fishes was provided with either spawn or milt. There are found also in Asia Minor, in rivers not communicating with the sea, little fishes like whitebait, differing from the small fry found near Cnidos but found under similar circumstances. Some writers actually aver that mullet all grow spontaneously. In this assertion they are mistaken, for the female of the fish is found provided with spawn, and the male with milt. However, there is a species of mullet that grows spontaneously out of mud and sand.
From the facts above enumerated it is quite proved that certain fishes come spontaneously into existence, not being derived from eggs or from copulation. Such fish as are neither oviparous nor viviparous arise all from one of two sources, from mud, or from sand and from decayed matter that rises thence as a scum; for instance, the so-called froth of the small fry comes out of sandy ground. This fry is incapable of growth and of propagating its kind; after living for a while it dies away and another creature takes its place, and so, with short intervals excepted, it may be said to last the whole year through. At all events, it lasts from the autumn rising of Arcturus up to the spring-time. As a proof that these fish occasionally come out of the ground we have the fact that in cold weather they are not caught, and that they are caught in warm weather, obviously coming up out of the ground to catch the heat; also, when the fishermen use dredges and the ground is scraped up fairly often, the fishes appear in larger numbers and of superior quality. All other small fry are inferior in quality owing to rapidity of growth. The fry are found in sheltered and marshy districts, when after a spell of fine weather the ground is getting warmer, as, for instance, in the neighbourhood of Athens, at Salamis and near the tomb of Themistocles and at Marathon; for in these districts the froth is found. It appears, then, in such districts and during such weather, and occasionally appears after a heavy fall of rain in the froth that is thrown up by the falling rain, from which circumstance the substance derives its specific name. Foam is occasionally brought in on the surface of the sea in fair weather. (And in this, where it has formed on the surface, the so-called froth collects, as grubs swarm in manure; for which-reason this fry is often brought in from the open sea. The fish is at its best in quality and quantity in moist warm weather.)
The ordinary fry is the normal issue of parent fishes: the so-called gudgeon-fry of small insignificant gudgeon-like fish that burrow under the ground. From the Phaleric fry comes the membras, from the membras the trichis, from the trichis the trichias, and from one particular sort of fry, to wit from that found in the harbour of Athens, comes what is called the encrasicholus, or anchovy. There is another fry, derived from the maenis and the mullet.
The unfertile fry is watery and keeps only a short time, as has been stated, for at last only head and eyes are left. However, the fishermen of late have hit upon a method of transporting it to a distance, as when salted it keeps for a considerable time.
Eels are not the issue of pairing, neither are they oviparous; nor was an eel ever found supplied with either milt or spawn, nor are they when cut open found to have within them passages for spawn or for eggs. In point of fact, this entire species of blooded animals proceeds neither from pair nor from the egg.
There can be no doubt that the case is so. For in some standing pools, after the water has been drained off and the mud has been dredged away, the eels appear again after a fall of rain. In time of drought they do not appear even in stagnant ponds, for the simple reason that their existence and sustenance is derived from rain-water.
There is no doubt, then, that they proceed neither from pairing nor from an egg. Some writers, however, are of opinion that they generate their kind, because in some eels little worms are found, from which they suppose that eels are derived. But this opinion is not founded on fact. Eels are derived from the so-called ‘earth’s guts’ that grow spontaneously in mud and in humid ground; in fact, eels have at times been seen to emerge out of such earthworms, and on other occasions have been rendered visible when the earthworms were laid open by either scraping or cutting. Such earthworms are found both in the sea and in rivers, especially where there is decayed matter: in the sea in places where sea-weed abounds, and in rivers and marshes near to the edge; for it is near to the water’s edge that sun-heat has its chief power and produces putrefaction. So much for the generation of the eel.
Fish do not all bring forth their young at the same season nor all in like manner, neither is the period of gestation for all of the same duration.
Before pairing the males and females gather together in shoals; at the time for copulation and parturition they pair off. With some fishes the time of gestation is not longer than thirty days, with others it is a lesser period; but with all it extends over a number of days divisible by seven. The longest period of gestation is that of the species which some call a marinus.
The sargue conceives during the month of Poseideon (or December), and carries its spawn for thirty days; and the species of mullet named by some the chelon, and the myxon, go with spawn at the same period and over the same length of time.
All fish suffer greatly during the period of gestation, and are in consequence very apt to be thrown up on shore at this time. In some cases they are driven frantic with pain and throw themselves on land. At all events they are throughout this time continually in motion until parturition is over (this being especially true of the mullet), and after parturition they are in repose. With many fish the time for parturition terminates on the appearance of grubs within the belly; for small living grubs get generated there and eat up the spawn.
With shoal fishes parturition takes place in the spring, and indeed, with most fishes, about the time of the spring equinox; with others it is at different times, in summer with some, and with others about the autumn equinox.
The first of shoal fishes to spawn is the atherine, and it spawns close to land; the last is the cephalus: and this is inferred from the fact that the brood of the atherine appears first of all and the brood of the cephalus last. The mullet also spawns early. The saupe spawns usually at the beginning of summer, but occasionally in the autumn. The aulopias, which some call the anthias, spawns in the summer. Next in order of spawning comes the chrysophrys or gilthead, the basse, the mormyrus, and in general such fish as are nicknamed ‘runners’. Latest in order of the shoal fish come the red mullet and the coracine; these spawn in autumn. The red mullet spawns on mud, and consequently, as the mud continues cold for a long while, spawns late in the year. The coracine carries its spawn for a long time; but, as it lives usually on rocky ground, it goes to a distance and spawns in places abounding in seaweed, at a period later than the red mullet. The maenis spawns about the winter solstice. Of the others, such as are pelagic spawn for the most part in summer; which fact is proved by their not being caught by fishermen during this period.
Of ordinary fishes the most prolific is the sprat; of cartilaginous fishes, the fishing-frog. Specimens, however, of the fishing-frog are rare from the facility with which the young are destroyed, as the female lays her spawn all in a lump close in to shore. As a rule, cartilaginous fish are less prolific than other fish owing to their being viviparous; and their young by reason of their size have a better chance of escaping destruction.
The so-called needle-fish (or pipe-fish) is late in spawning, and the greater portion of them are burst asunder by the eggs before spawning; and the eggs are not so many in number as large in size. The young fish cluster round the parent like so many young spiders, for the fish spawns on to herself; and, if any one touch the young, they swim away. The atherine spawns by rubbing its belly against the sand.
Tunny fish also burst asunder by reason of their fat. They live for two years; and the fishermen infer this age from the circumstance that once when there was a failure of the young tunny fish for a year there was a failure of the full-grown tunny the next summer. They are of opinion that the tunny is a fish a year older than the pelamyd. The tunny and the mackerel pair about the close of the month of Elaphebolion, and spawn about the commencement of the month of Hecatombaeon; they deposit their spawn in a sort of bag. The growth of the young tunny is rapid. After the females have spawned in the Euxine, there comes from the egg what some call scordylae, but what the Byzantines nickname the ‘auxids’ or ‘growers’, from their growing to a considerable size in a few days; these fish go out of the Pontus in autumn along with the young tunnies, and enter Pontus in the spring as pelamyds. Fishes as a rule take on growth with rapidity, but this is peculiarly the case with all species of fish found in the Pontus; the growth, for instance, of the amia-tunny is quite visible from day to day.
To resume, we must bear in mind that the same fish in the same localities have not the same season for pairing, for conception, for parturition, or for favouring weather. The coracine, for instance, in some places spawns about wheat-harvest. The statements here given pretend only to give the results of general observation.
The conger also spawns, but the fact is not equally obvious in all localities, nor is the spawn plainly visible owing to the fat of the fish; for the spawn is lanky in shape as it is with serpents. However, if it be put on the fire it shows its nature; for the fat evaporates and melts, while the eggs dance about and explode with a crack. Further, if you touch the substances and rub them with your fingers, the fat feels smooth and the egg rough. Some congers are provided with fat but not with any spawn, others are unprovided with fat but have egg-spawn as here described.
We have, then, treated pretty fully of the animals that fly in the air or swim in the water, and of such of those that walk on dry land as are oviparous, to wit of their pairing, conception, and the like phenomena; it now remains to treat of the same phenomena in connexion with viviparous land animals and with man.
The statements made in regard to the pairing of the sexes apply partly to the particular kinds of animal and partly to all in general. It is common to all animals to be most excited by the desire of one sex for the other and by the pleasure derived from copulation. The female is most cross-tempered just after parturition, the male during the time of pairing; for instance, stallions at this period bite one another, throw their riders, and chase them. Wild boars, though usually enfeebled at this time as the result of copulation, are now unusually fierce, and fight with one another in an extraordinary way, clothing themselves with defensive armour, or in other words deliberately thickening their hide by rubbing against trees or by coating themselves repeatedly all over with mud and then drying themselves in the sun. They drive one another away from the swine pastures, and fight with such fury that very often both combatants succumb. The case is similar with bulls, rams, and he-goats; for, though at ordinary times they herd together, at breeding time they hold aloof from and quarrel with one another. The male camel also is cross-tempered at pairing time if either a man or a camel comes near him; as for a horse, a camel is ready to fight him at any time. It is the same with wild animals. The bear, the wolf, and the lion are all at this time ferocious towards such as come in their way, but the males of these animals are less given to fight with one another from the fact that they are at no time gregarious. The she-bear is fierce after cubbing, and the bitch after pupping.
Male elephants get savage about pairing time, and for this reason it is stated that men who have charge of elephants in India never allow the males to have intercourse with the females; on the ground that the males go wild at this time and turn topsy-turvy the dwellings of their keepers, lightly constructed as they are, and commit all kinds of havoc. They also state that abundancy of food has a tendency to tame the males. They further introduce other elephants amongst the wild ones, and punish and break them in by setting on the new-comers to chastise the others.
Animals that pair frequently and not at a single specific season, as for instance animals domesticated by man, such as swine and dogs, are found to indulge in such freaks to a lesser degree owing to the frequency of their sexual intercourse.
Of female animals the mare is the most sexually wanton, and next in order comes the cow. In fact, the mare is said to go a-horsing; and the term derived from the habits of this one animal serves as a term of abuse applicable to such females of the human species as are unbridled in the way of sexual appetite. This is the common phenomenon as observed in the sow when she is said to go a-boaring. The mare is said also about this time to get wind-impregnated if not impregnated by the stallion, and for this reason in Crete they never remove the stallion from the mares; for when the mare gets into this condition she runs away from all other horses. The mares under these circumstances fly invariably either northwards or southwards, and never towards either east or west. When this complaint is on them they allow no one to approach, until either they are exhausted with fatigue or have reached the sea. Under either of these circumstances they discharge a certain substance ‘hippomanes’, the title given to a growth on a new-born foal; this resembles the sow-virus, and is in great request amongst women who deal in drugs and potions. About horsing time the mares huddle closer together, are continually switching their tails, their neigh is abnormal in sound, and from the sexual organ there flows a liquid resembling genital sperm, but much thinner than the sperm of the male. It is this substance that some call hippomanes, instead of the growth found on the foal; they say it is extremely difficult to get as it oozes out only in small drops at a time. Mares also, when in heat, discharge urine frequently, and frisk with one another. Such are the phenomena connected with the horse.
Cows go a-bulling; and so completely are they under the influence of the sexual excitement that the herdsmen have no control over them and cannot catch hold of them in the fields. Mares and kine alike, when in heat, indicate the fact by the upraising of their genital organs, and by continually voiding urine. Further, kine mount the bulls, follow them about; and keep standing beside them. The younger females both with horses and oxen are the first to get in heat; and their sexual appetites are all the keener if the weather warm and their bodily condition be healthy. Mares, when clipt of their coat, have the sexual feeling checked, and assume a downcast drooping appearance. The stallion recognizes by the scent the mares that form his company, even though they have been together only a few days before breeding time: if they get mixed up with other mares, the stallion bites and drives away the interlopers. He feeds apart, accompanied by his own troop of mares. Each stallion has assigned to him about thirty mares or even somewhat more; when a strange stallion approaches, he huddles his mares into a close ring, runs round them, then advances to the encounter of the newcomer; if one of the mares make a movement, he bites her and drives her back. The bull in breeding time begins to graze with the cows, and fights with other bulls (having hitherto grazed with them), which is termed by graziers ‘herd-spurning’. Often in Epirus a bull disappears for three months together. In a general way one may state that of male animals either none or few herd with their respective females before breeding time; but they keep separate after reaching maturity, and the two sexes feed apart. Sows, when they are moved by sexual desire, or are, as it is called, a-boaring, will attack even human beings.
With bitches the same sexual condition is termed ‘getting into heat’. The sexual organ rises at this time, and there is a moisture about the parts. Mares drip with a white liquid at this season.
Female animals are subject to menstrual discharges, but never in such-abundance as is the female of the human species. With ewes and she-goats there are signs of menstruation in breeding time, just before the for submitting to the male; after copulation also the signs are manifest, and then cease for an interval until the period of parturition arrives; the process then supervenes, and it is by this supervention that the shepherd knows that such and such an ewe is about to bring forth. After parturition comes copious menstruation, not at first much tinged with blood, but deeply dyed with it by and by. With the cow, the she ass, and the mare, the discharge is more copious actually, owing to their greater bulk, but proportionally to the greater bulk it is far less copious. The cow, for instance, when in heat, exhibits a small discharge to the extent of a quarter of a pint of liquid or a little less; and the time when this discharge takes place is the best time for her to be covered by the bull. Of all quadrupeds the mare is the most easily delivered of its young, exhibits the least amount of discharge after parturition, and emits the least amount of blood; that is to say, of all animals in proportion to size. With kine and mares menstruation usually manifests itself at intervals of two, four, and six months; but, unless one be constantly attending to and thoroughly acquainted with such animals, it is difficult to verify the circumstance, and the result is that many people are under the belief that the process never takes place with these animals at all.
With mules menstruation never takes place, but the urine of the female is thicker than the urine of the male. As a general rule the discharge from the bladder in the case of quadrupeds is thicker than it is in the human species, and this discharge with ewes and she-goats is thicker than with rams and he-goats; but the urine of the jackass is thicker than the urine of the she-ass, and the urine of the bull is more pungent than the urine of the cow. After parturition the urine of all quadrupeds becomes thicker, especially with such animals as exhibit comparatively slight discharges. At breeding time the milk become purulent, but after parturition it becomes wholesome. During pregnancy ewes and she-goats get fatter and eat more; as is also the case with cows, and, indeed, with the females of all quadrupeds.
In general the sexual appetites of animals are keenest in spring-time; the time of pairing, however, is not the same for all, but is adapted so as to ensure the rearing of the young at a convenient season.
Domesticated swine carry their young for four months, and bring forth a litter of twenty at the utmost; and, by the way, if the litter be exceedingly numerous they cannot rear all the young. As the sow grows old she continues to bear, but grows indifferent to the boar; she conceives after a single copulation, but they have to put the boar to her repeatedly owing to her dropping after intercourse what is called the sow-virus. This incident befalls all sows, but some of them discharge the genital sperm as well. During conception any one of the litter that gets injured or dwarfed is called an afterpig or scut: such injury may occur at any part of the womb. After littering the mother offers the foremost teat to the first-born. When the sow is in heat, she must not at once be put to the boar, but only after she lets her lugs drop, for otherwise she is apt to get into heat again; if she be put to the boar when in full condition of heat, one copulation, as has been said, is sufficient. It is as well to supply the boar at the period of copulation with barley, and the sow at the time of parturition with boiled barley. Some swine give fine litters only at the beginning, with others the litters improve as the mothers grow in age and size. It is said that a sow, if she have one of her eyes knocked out, is almost sure to die soon afterwards. Swine for the most part live for fifteen years, but some fall little short of the twenty.
Ewes conceive after three or four copulations with the ram. If rain falls after intercourse, the ram impregnates the ewe again; and it is the same with the she-goat. The ewe bears usually two lambs, sometimes three or four. Both ewe and she-goat carry their young for five months; consequently wherever a district is sunny and the animals are used to comfort and well fed, they bear twice in the year. The goat lives for eight years and the sheep for ten, but in most cases not so long; the bell-wether, however, lives to fifteen years. In every flock they train one of the rams for bell-wether. When he is called on by name by the shepherd, he takes the lead of the flock: and to this duty the creature is trained from its earliest years. Sheep in Ethiopia live for twelve or thirteen years, goats for ten or eleven. In the case of the sheep and the goat the two sexes have intercourse all their lives long.
Twins with sheep and goats may be due to richness of pasturage, or to the fact that either the ram or the he-goat is a twin-begetter or that the ewe or the she-goat is a twin-bearer. Of these animals some give birth to males and others to females; and the difference in this respect depends on the waters they drink and also on the sires. And if they submit to the male when north winds are blowing, they are apt to bear males; if when south winds are blowing, females. Such as bear females may get to bear males, due regard being paid to their looking northwards when put to the male. Ewes accustomed to be put to the ram early will refuse him if he attempt to mount them late. Lambs are born white and black according as white or black veins are under the ram’s tongue; the lambs are white if the veins are white, and black if the veins are black, and white and black if the veins are white and black; and red if the veins are red. The females that drink salted waters are the first to take the male; the water should be salted before and after parturition, and again in the springtime. With goats the shepherds appoint no bell-wether, as the animal is not capable of repose but frisky and apt to ramble. If at the appointed season the elders of the flock are eager for intercourse, the shepherds say that it bodes well for the flock; if the younger ones, that the flock is going to be bad.
Of dogs there are several breeds. Of these the Laconian hound of either sex is fit for breeding purposes when eight months old: at about the same age some dogs lift the leg when voiding urine. The bitch conceives with one lining; this is clearly seen in the case where a dog contrives to line a bitch by stealth, as they impregnate after mounting only once. The Laconian bitch carries her young the sixth part of a year or sixty days: or more by one, two, or three, or less by one; the pups are blind for twelve days after birth. After pupping, the bitch gets in heat again in six months, but not before. Some bitches carry their young for the fifth part of the year or for seventy-two days; and their pups are blind for fourteen days. Other bitches carry their young for a quarter of a year or for three whole months; and the whelps of these are blind for seventeen days. The bitch appears go in heat for the same length of time. Menstruation continues for seven days, and a swelling of the genital organ occurs simultaneously; it is not during this period that the bitch is disposed to submit to the dog, but in the seven days that follow. The bitch as a rule goes in heat for fourteen days, but occasionally for sixteen. The birth-discharge occurs simultaneously with the delivery of the whelps, and the substance of it is thick and mucous. (The falling-off in bulk on the part of the mother is not so great as might have been inferred from the size of her frame.) The bitch is usually supplied with milk five days before parturition; some seven days previously, some four; and the milk is serviceable immediately after birth. The Laconian bitch is supplied with milk thirty days after lining. The milk at first is thickish, but gets thinner by degrees; with the bitch the milk is thicker than with the female of any other animal excepting the sow and the hare. When the bitch arrives at full growth an indication is given of her capacity for the male; that is to say, just as occurs in the female of the human species, a swelling takes place in the teats of the breasts, and the breasts take on gristle. This incident, however, it is difficult for any but an expert to detect, as the part that gives the indication is inconsiderable. The preceding statements relate to the female, and not one of them to the male. The male as a rule lifts his leg to void urine when six months old; some at a later period, when eight months old, some before they reach six months. In a general way one may put it that they do so when they are out of puppyhood. The bitch squats down when she voids urine; it is a rare exception that she lifts the leg to do so. The bitch bears twelve pups at the most, but usually five or six; occasionally a bitch will bear one only. The bitch of the Laconian breed generally bears eight. The two sexes have intercourse with each other at all periods of life. A very remarkable phenomenon is observed in the case of the Laconian hound: in other words, he is found to be more vigorous in commerce with the female after being hard-worked than when allowed to live idle.
The dog of the Laconian breed lives ten years, and the bitch twelve. The bitch of other breeds usually lives for fourteen or fifteen years, but some live to twenty; and for this reason certain critics consider that Homer did well in representing the dog of Ulysses as having died in his twentieth year. With the Laconian hound, owing to the hardships to which the male is put, he is less long-lived than the female; with other breeds the distinction as to longevity is not very apparent, though as a general rule the male is the longer-lived.
The dog sheds no teeth except the so-called ‘canines’; these a dog of either sex sheds when four months old. As they shed these only, many people are in doubt as to the fact, and some people, owing to their shedding but two and its being hard to hit upon the time when they do so, fancy that the animal sheds no teeth at all; others, after observing the shedding of two, come to the conclusion that the creature sheds the rest in due turn. Men discern the age of a dog by inspection of its teeth; with young dogs the teeth are white and sharp pointed, with old dogs black and blunted.
The bull impregnates the cow at a single mount, and mounts with such vigour as to weigh down the cow; if his effort be unsuccessful, the cow must be allowed an interval of twenty days before being again submitted. Bulls of mature age decline to mount the same cow several times on one day, except, by the way, at considerable intervals. Young bulls by reason of their vigour are enabled to mount the same cow several times in one day, and a good many cows besides. The bull is the least salacious of male animals. . . . The victor among the bulls is the one that mounts the females; when he gets exhausted by his amorous efforts, his beaten antagonist sets on him and very often gets the better of the conflict. The bull and the cow are about a year old when it is possible for them to have commerce with chance of offspring: as a rule, however, they are about twenty months old, but it is universally allowed that they are capable in this respect at the age of two years. The cow goes with calf for nine months, and she calves in the tenth month; some maintain that they go in calf for ten months, to the very day. A calf delivered before the times here specified is an abortion and never lives, however little premature its birth may have been, as its hooves are weak and imperfect. The cow as a rule bears but one calf, very seldom two; she submits to the bull and bears as long as she lives.
Cows live for about fifteen years, and the bulls too, if they have been castrated; but some live for twenty years or even more, if their bodily constitutions be sound. The herdsmen tame the castrated bulls, and give them an office in the herd analogous to the office of the bell-wether in a flock; and these bulls live to an exceptionally advanced age, owing to their exemption from hardship and to their browsing on pasture of good quality. The bull is in fullest vigour when five years old, which leads the critics to commend Homer for applying to the bull the epithets of ‘five-year-old’, or ‘of nine seasons’, which epithets are alike in meaning. The ox sheds his teeth at the age of two years, not all together but just as the horse sheds his. When the animal suffers from podagra it does not shed the hoof, but is subject to a painful swelling in the feet. The milk of the cow is serviceable after parturition, and before parturition there is no milk at all. The milk that first presents itself becomes as hard as stone when it clots; this result ensues unless it be previously diluted with water. Oxen younger than a year old do not copulate unless under circumstances of an unnatural and portentous kind: instances have been recorded of copulation in both sexes at the age of four months. Kine in general begin to submit to the male about the month of Thargelion or of Scirophorion; some, however, are capable of conception right on to the autumn. When kine in large numbers receive the bull and conceive, it is looked upon as prognostic of rain and stormy weather. Kine herd together like mares, but in lesser degree.
In the case of horses, the stallion and the mare are first fitted for breeding purposes when two years old. Instances, however, of such early maturity are rare, and their young are exceptionally small and weak; the ordinary age for sexual maturity is three years, and from that age to twenty the two sexes go on improving in the quality of their offspring. The mare carries her foal for eleven months, and casts it in the twelfth. It is not a fixed number of days that the stallion takes to impregnate the mare; it may be one, two, three, or more. An ass in covering will impregnate more expeditiously than a stallion. The act of intercourse with horses is not laborious as it is with oxen. In both sexes the horse is the most salacious of animals next after the human species. The breeding faculties of the younger horses may be stimulated beyond their years if they be supplied with good feeding in abundance. The mare as a rule bears only one foal; occasionally she has two, but never more. A mare has been known to cast two mules; but such a circumstance was regarded as unnatural and portentous.
The horse then is first fitted for breeding purposes at the age of two and a half years, but achieves full sexual maturity when it has ceased to shed teeth, except it be naturally infertile; it must be added, however, that some horses have been known to impregnate the mare while the teeth were in process of shedding.
The horse has forty teeth. It sheds its first set of four, two from the upper jaw and two from the lower, when two and a half years old. After a year’s interval, it sheds another set of four in like manner, and another set of four after yet another year’s interval; after arriving at the age of four years and six months it sheds no more. An instance has occurred where a horse shed all his teeth at once, and another instance of a horse shedding all his teeth with his last set of four; but such instances are very rare. It consequently happens that a horse when four and a half years old is in excellent condition for breeding purposes.
The older horses, whether of the male or female, are the more generatively productive. Horses will cover mares from which they have been foaled and mares which they have begotten; and, indeed, a troop of horses is only considered perfect when such promiscuity of intercourse occurs. Scythians use pregnant mares for riding when the embryo has turned rather soon in the womb, and they assert that thereby the mothers have all the easier delivery. Quadrupeds as a rule lie down for parturition, and in consequence the young of them all come out of the womb sideways. The mare, however, when the time for parturition arrives, stands erect and in that posture casts its foal.
The horse in general lives for eighteen or twenty years; some horses live for twenty-five or even thirty, and if a horse be treated with extreme care, it may last on to the age of fifty years; a horse, however, when it reaches thirty years is regarded as exceptionally old. The mare lives usually for twenty-five years, though instances have occurred of their attaining the age of forty. The male is less long-lived than the female by reason of the sexual service he is called on to render; and horses that are reared in a private stable live longer than such as are reared in troops. The mare attains her full length and height at five years old, the stallion at six; in another six years the animal reaches its full bulk, and goes on improving until it is twenty years old. The female, then, reaches maturity more rapidly than the male, but in the womb the case is reversed, just as is observed in regard to the sexes of the human species; and the same phenomenon is observed in the case of all animals that bear several young.
The mare is said to suckle a mule-foal for six months, but not to allow its approach for any longer on account of the pain it is put to by the hard tugging of the young; an ordinary foal it allows to suck for a longer period.
Horse and mule are at their best after the shedding of the teeth. After they have shed them all, it is not easy to distinguish their age; hence they are said to carry their mark before the shedding, but not after. However, even after the shedding their age is pretty well recognized by the aid of the canines; for in the case of horses much ridden these teeth are worn away by attrition caused by the insertion of the bit; in the case of horses not ridden the teeth are large and detached, and in young horses they are sharp and small.
The male of the horse will breed at all seasons and during its whole life; the mare can take the horse all its life long, but is not thus ready to pair at all seasons unless it be held in check by a halter or some other compulsion be brought to bear. There is no fixed time at which intercourse of the two sexes cannot take place; and accordingly intercourse may chance to take place at a time that may render difficult the rearing of the future progeny. In a stable in Opus there was a stallion that used to serve mares when forty years old: his fore legs had to be lifted up for the operation.
Mares first take the horse in the spring-time. After a mare has foaled she does not get impregnated at once again, but only after a considerable interval; in fact, the foals will be all the better if the interval extend over four or five years. It is, at all events, absolutely necessary to allow an interval of one year, and for that period to let her lie fallow. A mare, then, breeds at intervals; a she-ass breeds on and on without intermission. Of mares some are absolutely sterile, others are capable of conception but incapable of bringing the foal to full term; it is said to be an indication of this condition in a mare, that her foal if dissected is found to have other kidney-shaped substances round about its kidneys, presenting the appearance of having four kidneys.
After parturition the mare at once swallows the after-birth, and bites off the growth, called the ‘hippomanes’, that is found on the forehead of the foal. This growth is somewhat smaller than a dried fig; and in shape is broad and round, and in colour black. If any bystander gets possession of it before the mare, and the mare gets a smell of it, she goes wild and frantic at the smell. And it is for this reason that venders of drugs and simples hold the substance in high request and include it among their stores.
If an ass cover a mare after the mare has been covered by a horse, the ass will destroy the previously formed embryo.
(Horse-trainers do not appoint a horse as leader to a troop, as herdsmen appoint a bull as leader to a herd, and for this reason that the horse is not steady but quick-tempered and skittish.)
The ass of both sexes is capable of breeding, and sheds its first teeth at the age of two and a half years; it sheds its second teeth within six months, its third within another six months, and the fourth after the like interval. These fourth teeth are termed the gnomons or age-indicators.
A she-ass has been known to conceive when a year old, and the foal to be reared. After intercourse with the male it will discharge the genital sperm unless it be hindered, and for this reason it is usually beaten after such intercourse and chased about. It casts its young in the twelfth month. It usually bears but one foal, and that is its natural number, occasionally however it bears twins. The ass if it cover a mare destroys, as has been said, the embryo previously begotten by the horse; but, after the mare has been covered by the ass, the horse supervening will not spoil the embryo. The she-ass has milk in the tenth month of pregnancy. Seven days after casting a foal the she-ass submits to the male, and is almost sure to conceive if put to the male on this particular day; the same result, however, is quite possible later on. The she-ass will refuse to cast her foal with any one looking on or in the daylight and just before foaling she has to be led away into a dark place. If the she-ass has had young before the shedding of the index-teeth, she will bear all her life through; but if not, then she will neither conceive nor bear for the rest of her days. The ass lives for more than thirty years, and the she-ass lives longer than the male.
When there is a cross between a horse and a she-ass or a jackass and a mare, there is much greater chance of a miscarriage than where the commerce is normal. The period for gestation in the case of a cross depends on the male, and is just what it would have been if the male had had commerce with a female of his own kind. In regard to size, looks, and vigour, the foal is more apt to resemble the mother than the sire. If such hybrid connexions be continued without intermittence, the female will soon go sterile; and for this reason trainers always allow of intervals between breeding times. A mare will not take the ass, nor a she ass the horse, unless the ass or she-ass shall have been suckled by a mare; and for this reason trainers put foals of the she-ass under mares, which foals are technically spoken of as ‘mare-suckled’. These asses, thus reared, mount the mares in the open pastures, mastering them by force as the stallions do.
A mule is fitted for commerce with the female after the first shedding of its teeth, and at the age of seven will impregnate effectually; and where connexion has taken place with a mare, a ‘hinny’ has been known to be produced. After the seventh year it has no further intercourse with the female. A female mule has been known to be impregnated, but without the impregnation being followed up by parturition. In Syrophoenicia she-mules submit to the mule and bear young; but the breed, though it resembles the ordinary one, is different and specific. The hinny or stunted mule is foaled by a mare when she has gone sick during gestation, and corresponds to the dwarf in the human species and to the after-pig or scut in swine; and as is the case with dwarfs, the sexual organ of the hinny is abnormally large.
The mule lives for a number of years. There are on record cases of mules living to the age of eighty, as did one in Athens at the time of the building of the temple; this mule on account of its age was let go free, but continued to assist in dragging burdens, and would go side by side with the other draught-beasts and stimulate them to their work; and in consequence a public decree was passed forbidding any baker driving the creature away from his bread-tray. The she-mule grows old more slowly than the mule. Some assert that the she-mule menstruates by the act of voiding her urine, and that the mule owes the prematurity of his decay to his habit of smelling at the urine. So much for the modes of generation in connexion with these animals.
Breeders and trainers can distinguish between young and old quadrupeds. If, when drawn back from the jaw, the skin at once goes back to its place, the animal is young; if it remains long wrinkled up, the animal is old.
The camel carries its young for ten months, and bears but one at a time and never more; the young camel is removed from the mother when a year old. The animal lives for a long period, more than fifty years. It bears in spring-time, and gives milk until the time of the next conception. Its flesh and milk are exceptionally palatable. The milk is drunk mixed with water in the proportion of either two to one or three to one.
The elephant of either sex is fitted for breeding before reaching the age of twenty. The female carries her young, according to some accounts, for two and a half years; according to others, for three years; and the discrepancy in the assigned periods is due to the fact that there are never human eyewitnesses to the commerce between the sexes. The female settles down on its rear to cast its young, and obviously suffers greatly during the process. The young one, immediately after birth, sucks the mother, not with its trunk but with the mouth; and can walk about and see distinctly the moment it is born.
The wild sow submits to the boar at the beginning of winter, and in the spring-time retreats for parturition to a lair in some district inaccessible to intrusion, hemmed in with sheer cliffs and chasms and overshadowed by trees. The boar usually remains by the sow for thirty days. The number of the litter and the period gestation is the same as in the case of the domesticated congener. The sound of the grunt also is similar; only that the sow grunts continually, and the boar but seldom. Of the wild boars such as are castrated grow to the largest size and become fiercest: to which circumstance Homer alludes when he says:—
‘He reared against him a wild castrated boar: it was not like a food-devouring brute, but like a forest-clad promontory.’
Wild boars become castrated owing to an itch befalling them in early life in the region of the testicles, and the castration is superinduced by their rubbing themselves against the trunks of trees.
The hind, as has been stated, submits to the stag as a rule only under compulsion, as she is unable to endure the male often owing to the rigidity of the penis. However, they do occasionally submit to the stag as the ewe submits ram; and when they are in heat the hinds avoid one another. The stag is not constant to one particular hind, but after a while quits one and mates with others. The breeding time is after the rising of Arcturus, during the months of Boedromion and Maimacterion. The period of gestation lasts for eight months. Conception comes on a few days after intercourse; and a number of hinds can be impregnated by a single male. The hind, as a rule, bears but one fawn, although instances have been known of her casting two. Out of dread of wild beasts she casts her young by the side of the high-road. The young fawn grows with rapidity. Menstruation occurs at no other time with the hind; it takes place only after parturition, and the substance is phlegm-like.
The hind leads the fawn to her lair; this is her place of refuge, a cave with a single inlet, inside which she shelters herself against attack.
Fabulous stories are told concerning the longevity of the animal, but the stories have never been verified, and the brevity of the period of gestation and the rapidity of growth in the fawn would not lead one to attribute extreme longevity to this creature.
In the mountain called Elaphoeis or Deer Mountain, which is in Arginussa in Asia Minor-the place, by the way, where Alcibiades was assassinated-all the hinds have the ear split, so that, if they stray to a distance, they can be recognized by this mark; and the embryo actually has the mark while yet in the womb of the mother.
The hind has four teats like the cow. After the hinds have become pregnant, the males all segregate one by one, and in consequence of the violence of their sexual passions they keep each one to himself, dig a hole in the ground, and bellow from time to time; in all these particulars they resemble the goat, and their foreheads from getting wetted become black, as is also the case with the goat. In this way they pass the time until the rain falls, after which time they turn to pasture. The animal acts in this way owing to its sexual wantonness and also to its obesity; for in summer-time it becomes so exceptionally fat as to be unable to run: in fact at this period they can be overtaken by the hunters that pursue them on foot in the second or third run; and, by the way, in consequence of the heat of the weather and their getting out of breath they always make for water in their runs. In the rutting season, the flesh of the deer is unsavoury and rank, like the flesh of the he-goat. In winter-time the deer becomes thin and weak, but towards the approach of the spring he is at his best for running. When on the run the deer keeps pausing from time to time, and waits until his pursuer draws upon him, whereupon he starts off again. This habit appears due to some internal pain: at all events, the gut is so slender and weak that, if you strike the animal ever so softly, it is apt to break asunder, though the hide of the animal remains sound and uninjured.
Bears, as has been previously stated, do not copulate with the male mounting the back of the female, but with the female lying down under the male. The she-bear goes with young for thirty days. She brings forth sometimes one cub, sometimes two cubs, and at most five. Of all animals the newly born cub of the she bear is the smallest in proportion to the size of the mother; that is to say, it is larger than a mouse but smaller than a weasel. It is also smooth and blind, and its legs and most of its organs are as yet inarticulate. Pairing takes Place in the month of Elaphebolion, and parturition about the time for retiring into winter quarters; about this time the bear and the she-bear are at the fattest. After the she-bear has reared her young, she comes out of her winter lair in the third month, when it is already spring. The female porcupine, by the way, hibernates and goes with young the same number of days as the she-bear, and in all respects as to parturition resembles this animal. When a she-bear is with young, it is a very hard task to catch her.
It has already been stated that the lion and lioness copulate rearwards, and that these animals are opisthuretic. They do not copulate nor bring forth at all seasons indiscriminately, but once in the year only. The lioness brings forth in the spring, generally two cubs at a time, and six at the very most; but sometimes only one. The story about the lioness discharging her womb in the act of parturition is a pure fable, and was merely invented to account for the scarcity of the animal; for the animal is, as is well known, a rare animal, and is not found in many countries. In fact, in the whole of Europe it is only found in the strip between the rivers Achelous and Nessus. The cubs of the lioness when newly born are exceedingly small, and can scarcely walk when two months old. The Syrian lion bears cubs five times: five cubs at the first litter, then four, then three, then two, and lastly one; after this the lioness ceases to bear for the rest of her days. The lioness has no mane, but this appendage is peculiar to the lion. The lion sheds only the four so-called canines, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower; and it sheds them when it is six months old.
The hyena in colour resembles the wolf, but is more shaggy, and is furnished with a mane running all along the spine. What is recounted concerning its genital organs, to the effect that every hyena is furnished with the organ both of the male and the female, is untrue. The fact is that the sexual organ of the male hyena resembles the same organ in the wolf and in the dog; the part resembling the female genital organ lies underneath the tail, and does to some extent resemble the female organ, but it is unprovided with duct or passage, and the passage for the residuum comes underneath it. The female hyena has the part that resembles the organ of the male, and, as in the case of the male, has it underneath her tail, unprovided with duct or passage; and after it the passage for the residuum, and underneath this the true female genital organ. The female hyena has a womb, like all other female animals of the same kind. It is an exceedingly rare circumstance to meet with a female hyena. At least a hunter said that out of eleven hyenas he had caught, only one was a female.
Hares copulate in a rearward posture, as has been stated, for the animal is opisthuretic. They breed and bear at all seasons, superfoetate during pregnancy, and bear young every month. They do not give birth to their young ones all together at one time, but bring them forth at intervals over as many days as the circumstances of each case may require. The female is supplied with milk before parturition; and after bearing submits immediately to the male, and is capable of conception while suckling her young. The milk in consistency resembles sow’s milk. The young are born blind, as is the case with the greater part Of the fissipeds or toed animals.
The fox mounts the vixen in copulation, and the vixen bears young like the she-bear; in fact, her young ones are even more inarticulately formed. Before parturition she retires to sequestered places, so that it is a great rarity for a vixen to be caught while pregnant. After parturition she warms her young and gets them into shape by licking them. She bears four at most at a birth.
The wolf resembles the dog in regard to the time of conception and parturition, the number of the litter, and the blindness of the newborn young. The sexes couple at one special period, and the female brings forth at the beginning of the summer. There is an account given of the parturition of the she-wolf that borders on the fabulous, to the effect that she confines her lying-in to within twelve particular days of the year. And they give the reason for this in the form of a myth, viz. that when they transported Leto in so many days from the land of the Hyperboreans to the island of Delos, she assumed the form of a she-wolf to escape the anger of Here. Whether the account be correct or not has not yet been verified; I give it merely as it is currently told. There is no more of truth in the current statement that the she-wolf bears once and only once in her lifetime.
The cat and the ichneumon bear as many young as the dog, and live on the same food; they live about six years. The cubs of the panther are born blind like those of the wolf, and the female bears four at the most at one birth. The particulars of conception are the same for the thos, or civet, as for the dog; the cubs of the animal are born blind, and the female bears two, or three, or four at a birth. It is long in the body and low in stature; but not withstanding the shortness of its legs it is exceptionally fleet of foot, owing to the suppleness of its frame and its capacity for leaping.
There is found in Syria a so-called mule. It is not the same as the cross between the horse and ass, but resembles it just as a wild ass resembles the domesticated congener, and derives its name from the resemblance. Like the wild ass, this wild mule is remarkable for its speed. The animals of this species interbreed with one another; and a proof of this statement may be gathered from the fact that a certain number of them were brought into Phrygia in the time of Pharnaces, the father of Pharnabazus, and the animal is there still. The number originally introduced was nine, and there are three there at the present day.
The phenomena of generation in regard to the mouse are the most astonishing both for the number of the young and for the rapidity of recurrence in the births. On one occasion a she-mouse in a state of pregnancy was shut up by accident in a jar containing millet-seed, and after a little while the lid of the jar was removed and upwards of one hundred and twenty mice were found inside it.
The rate of propagation of field mice in country places, and the destruction that they cause, are beyond all telling. In many places their number is so incalculable that but very little of the corn-crop is left to the farmer; and so rapid is their mode of proceeding that sometimes a small farmer will one day observe that it is time for reaping, and on the following morning, when he takes his reapers afield, he finds his entire crop devoured. Their disappearance is unaccountable: in a few days not a mouse will there be to be seen. And yet in the time before these few days men fail to keep down their numbers by fumigating and unearthing them, or by regularly hunting them and turning in swine upon them; for pigs, by the way, turn up the mouse-holes by rooting with their snouts. Foxes also hunt them, and the wild ferrets in particular destroy them, but they make no way against the prolific qualities of the animal and the rapidity of its breeding. When they are super-abundant, nothing succeeds in thinning them down except the rain; but after heavy rains they disappear rapidly.
In a certain district of Persia when a female mouse is dissected the female embryos appear to be pregnant. Some people assert, and positively assert, that a female mouse by licking salt can become pregnant without the intervention of the male.
Mice in Egypt are covered with bristles like the hedgehog. There is also a different breed of mice that walk on their two hind-legs; their front legs are small and their hind-legs long; the breed is exceedingly numerous. There are many other breeds of mice than are here referred to.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:50