Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of History of Animals

Previous | Next

History of Animals   

of food. Of shell-fish that are mobile, some are carnivorous and
live on little fishes, as for instance, the purple murex-and there can
be no doubt that the purple murex is carnivorous, as it is caught by a
bait of fish; others are carnivorous, but feed also on marine
The sea-turtles feed on shell-fish-for, by the way, their mouths
are extraordinarily hard; whatever object it seizes, stone or other,
it crunches into bits, but when it leaves the water for dry land it
browses on grass). These creatures suffer greatly, and oftentimes
die when they lie on the surface of the water exposed to a scorching
sun; for, when once they have risen to the surface, they find a
difficulty in sinking again.
Crustaceans feed in like manner. They are omnivorous; that is to
say, they live on stones, slime, sea-weed, and excrement-as for
instance the rock-crab-and are also carnivorous. The crawfish or
spiny-lobster can get the better of fishes even of the larger species,
though in some of them it occasionally finds more than its match.
Thus, this animal is so overmastered and cowed by the octopus that
it dies of terror if it become aware of an octopus in the same net
with itself. The crawfish can master the conger-eel, for owing to
the rough spines of the crawfish the eel cannot slip away and elude
its hold. The conger-eel, however, devours the octopus, for owing to
the slipperiness of its antagonist the octopus can make nothing of it.
The crawfish feeds on little fish, capturing them beside its hole or
dwelling place; for, by the way, it is found out at sea on rough and
stony bottoms, and in such places it makes its den. Whatever it
catches, it puts into its mouth with its pincer-like claws, like the
common crab. Its nature is to walk straight forward when it has
nothing to fear, with its feelers hanging sideways; if it be
frightened, it makes its escape backwards, darting off to a great
distance. These animals fight one another with their claws, just as
rams fight with their horns, raising them and striking their
opponents; they are often also seen crowded together in herds. So much
for the mode of life of the crustacean.
Molluscs are all carnivorous; and of molluscs the calamary and
the sepia are more than a match for fishes even of the large
species. The octopus for the most part gathers shellfish, extracts the
flesh, and feeds on that; in fact, fishermen recognize their holes
by the number of shells lying about. Some say that the octopus devours
its own species, but this statement is incorrect; it is doubtless
founded on the fact that the creature is often found with its
tentacles removed, which tentacles have really been eaten off by the
Fishes, all without exception, feed on spawn in the spawning
season; but in other respects the food varies with the varying
species. Some fishes are exclusively carnivorous, as the cartilaginous
genus, the conger, the channa or Serranus, the tunny, the bass, the
synodon or Dentex, the amia, the sea-perch, and the muraena. The red
mullet is carnivorous, but feeds also on sea-weed, on shell-fish,
and on mud. The grey mullet feeds on mud, the dascyllus on mud and
offal, the scarus or parrot-fish and the melanurus on sea-weed, the
saupe on offal and sea-weed; the saupe feeds also on zostera, and is
the only fish that is captured with a gourd. All fishes devour their
own species, with the single exception of the cestreus or mullet;
and the conger is especially ravenous in this respect. The cephalus
and the mullet in general are the only fish that eat no flesh; this
may be inferred from the facts that when caught they are never found
with flesh in their intestines, and that the bait used to catch them
is not flesh but barley-cake. Every fish of the mullet-kind lives on
sea-weed and sand. The cephalus, called by some the 'chelon', keeps
near in to the shore, the peraeas keeps out at a distance from it, and
feeds on a mucous substance exuding from itself, and consequently is
always in a starved condition. The cephalus lives in mud, and is in
consequence heavy and slimy; it never feeds on any other fish. As it

Previous | Next
Site Search