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History of Animals   


instance the spider; only that the spider sucks out the juices of
its prey outside, and the serpent does so in its belly. The serpent
takes any food presented to him, eats birds and animals, and
swallows eggs entire. But after taking his prey he stretches himself
until he stands straight out to the very tip, and then he contracts
and squeezes himself into little compass, so that the swallowed mass
may pass down his outstretched body; and this action on his part is
due to the tenuity and length of his gullet. Spiders and snakes can
both go without food for a long time; and this remark may be
verified by observation of specimens kept alive in the shops of the
apothecaries.
5

Of viviparous quadrupeds such as are fierce and jag-toothed
are without exception carnivorous; though, by the way, it is stated of
the wolf, but of no other animal, that in extremity of hunger it
will eat a certain kind of earth. These carnivorous animals never
eat grass except when they are sick, just as dogs bring on a vomit
by eating grass and thereby purge themselves.
The solitary wolf is more apt to attack man than the wolf that
goes with a pack.
The animal called 'glanus' by some and 'hyaena' by others is
as large as a wolf, with a mane like a horse, only that the hair is
stiffer and longer and extends over the entire length of the chine. It
will lie in wait for a man and chase him, and will inveigle a dog
within its reach by making a noise that resembles the retching noise
of a man vomiting. It is exceedingly fond of putrefied flesh, and will
burrow in a graveyard to gratify this propensity.
The bear is omnivorous. It eats fruit, and is enabled by the
suppleness of its body to climb a tree; it also eats vegetables, and
it will break up a hive to get at the honey; it eats crabs and ants
also, and is in a general way carnivorous. It is so powerful that it
will attack not only the deer but the wild boar, if it can take it
unawares, and also the bull. After coming to close quarters with the
bull it falls on its back in front of the animal, and, when the bull
proceeds to butt, the bear seizes hold of the bull's horns with its
front paws, fastens its teeth into his shoulder, and drags him down to
the ground. For a short time together it can walk erect on its hind
legs. All the flesh it eats it first allows to become carrion.
The lion, like all other savage and jag-toothed animals, is
carnivorous. It devours its food greedily and fiercely, and often
swallows its prey entire without rending it at all; it will then go
fasting for two or three days together, being rendered capable of this
abstinence by its previous surfeit. It is a spare drinker. It
discharges the solid residuum in small quantities, about every other
day or at irregular intervals, and the substance of it is hard and dry
like the excrement of a dog. The wind discharged from off its
stomach is pungent, and its urine emits a strong odour, a phenomenon
which, in the case of dogs, accounts for their habit of sniffing at
trees; for, by the way, the lion, like the dog, lifts its leg to
void its urine. It infects the food it eats with a strong smell by
breathing on it, and when the animal is cut open an overpowering
vapour exhales from its inside.
Some wild quadrupeds feed in lakes and rivers; the seal is the
only one that gets its living on the sea. To the former class of
animals belong the so-called castor, the satyrium, the otter, and
the so-called latax, or beaver. The beaver is flatter than the otter
and has strong teeth; it often at night-time emerges from the water
and goes nibbling at the bark of the aspens that fringe the
riversides. The otter will bite a man, and it is said that whenever it
bites it will never let go until it hears a bone crack. The hair of
the beaver is rough, intermediate in appearance between the hair of
the seal and the hair of the deer.
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