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History of Animals   


to the suppleness of its frame and its capacity for leaping.
36

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.
37

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.
Book VII
1

As to Man's growth, first within his mother's womb and afterward
to old age, the course of nature, in so far as man is specially
concerned, is after the following manner. And, by the way, the
difference of male and female and of their respective organs has
been dealt with heretofore. When twice seven years old, in the most of
cases, the male begins to engender seed; and at the same time hair
appears upon the pubes, in like manner, so Alcmaeon of Croton remarks,
as plants first blossom and then seed. About the same time, the
voice begins to alter, getting harsher and more uneven, neither shrill
as formerly nor deep as afterward, nor yet of any even tone, but
like an instrument whose strings are frayed and out of tune; and it is
called, by way of by-word, the bleat of the billy-goat. Now this
breaking of the voice is the more apparent in those who are making
trial of their sexual powers; for in those who are prone to

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