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History of Animals   


ground and treads the ground hard over them; it then broods over the
eggs on the surface of the ground, and hatches the eggs the next year.
The hemys, or fresh-water tortoise, leaves the water and lays its
eggs. It digs a hole of a casklike shape, and deposits therein the
eggs; after rather less than thirty days it digs the eggs up again and
hatches them with great rapidity, and leads its young at once off to
the water. The sea-turtle lays on the ground eggs just like the eggs
of domesticated birds, buries the eggs in the ground, and broods
over them in the night-time. It lays a very great number of eggs,
amounting at times to one hundred.
Lizards and crocodiles, terrestrial and fluvial, lay eggs on land.
The eggs of lizards hatch spontaneously on land, for the lizard does
not live on into the next year; in fact, the life of the animal is
said not to exceed six months. The river-crocodile lays a number of
eggs, sixty at the most, white in colour, and broods over them for
sixty days: for, by the way, the creature is very long-lived. And
the disproportion is more marked in this animal than in any other
between the smallness of the original egg and the huge size of the
full-grown animal. For the egg is not larger than that of the goose,
and the young crocodile is small, answering to the egg in size, but
the full-grown animal attains the length of twenty-six feet; in
fact, it is actually stated that the animal goes on growing to the end
of its days.
34

With regard to serpents or snakes, the viper is externally
viviparous, having been previously oviparous internally. The egg, as
with the egg of fishes, is uniform in colour and soft-skinned. The
young serpent grows on the surface of the egg, and, like the young
of fishes, has no shell-like envelopment. The young of the viper is
born inside a membrane that bursts from off the young creature in
three days; and at times the young viper eats its way out from the
inside of the egg. The mother viper brings forth all its young in
one day, twenty in number, and one at a time. The other serpents are
externally oviparous, and their eggs are strung on to one another like
a lady's necklace; after the dam has laid her eggs in the ground she
broods over them, and hatches the eggs in the following year.

Book VI
1

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

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