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

Previous | Next

History of Animals   

Most fishes hide, then, during the winter only, but crustaceans,
the rock-fish, the ray, and the cartilaginous species hide only during
extremely severe weather, and this may be inferred from the fact
that these fishes are never by any chance caught when the weather is
extremely cold. Some fishes, however, hide during the summer, as the
glaucus or grey-back; this fish hides in summer for about sixty
days. The hake also and the gilthead hide; and we infer that the
hake hides over a lengthened period from the fact that it is only
caught at long intervals. We are led also to infer that fishes hide in
summer from the circumstance that the takes of certain fish are made
between the rise and setting of certain constellations: of the
Dog-star in particular, the sea at this period being upturned from the
lower depths. This phenomenon may be observed to best advantage in the
Bosporus; for the mud is there brought up to the surface and the
fish are brought up along with it. They say also that very often, when
the sea-bottom is dredged, more fish will be caught by the second haul
than by the first one. Furthermore, after very heavy rains numerous
specimens become visible of creatures that at other times are never
seen at all or seen only at intervals.

A great number of birds also go into hiding; they do not all
migrate, as is generally supposed, to warmer countries. Thus,
certain birds (as the kite and the swallow) when they are not far
off from places of this kind, in which they have their permanent
abode, betake themselves thither; others, that are at a distance
from such places, decline the trouble of migration and simply hide
themselves where they are. Swallows, for instance, have been often
found in holes, quite denuded of their feathers, and the kite on its
first emergence from torpidity has been seen to fly from out some such
hiding-place. And with regard to this phenomenon of periodic torpor
there is no distinction observed, whether the talons of a bird be
crooked or straight; for instance, the stork, the owzel, the
turtle-dove, and the lark, all go into hiding. The case of the
turtledove is the most notorious of all, for we would defy any one
to assert that he had anywhere seen a turtle-dove in winter-time; at
the beginning of the hiding time it is exceedingly plump, and during
this period it moults, but retains its plumpness. Some cushats hide;
others, instead of hiding, migrate at the same time as the swallow.
The thrush and the starling hide; and of birds with crooked talons the
kite and the owl hide for a few days.

Of viviparous quadrupeds the porcupine and the bear retire into
concealment. The fact that the bear hides is well established, but
there are doubts as to its motive for so doing, whether it be by
reason of the cold or from some other cause. About this period the
male and the female become so fat as to be hardly capable of motion.
The female brings forth her young at this time, and remains in
concealment until it is time to bring the cubs out; and she brings
them out in spring, about three months after the winter solstice.
The bear hides for at least forty days; during fourteen of these
days it is said not to move at all, but during most of the
subsequent days it moves, and from time to time wakes up. A she-bear
in pregnancy has either never been caught at all or has been caught
very seldom. There can be no doubt but that during this period they
eat nothing; for in the first place they never emerge from their
hiding-place, and further, when they are caught, their belly and
intestines are found to be quite empty. It is also said that from no
food being taken the gut almost closes up, and that in consequence the
animal on first emerging takes to eating arum with the view of opening
up and distending the gut.
The dormouse actually hides in a tree, and gets very fat at that
period; as does also the white mouse of Pontus.

Previous | Next
Site Search