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History of Animals   


(Of animals that hide or go torpid some slough off what is
called their 'old-age'. This name is applied to the outermost skin,
and to the casing that envelops the developing organism.)
In discussing the case of terrestrial vivipara we stated that
the reason for the bear's seeking concealment is an open question.
We now proceed to treat of the tessellates. The tessellates for the
most part go into hiding, and if their skin is soft they slough off
their 'old-age', but not if the skin is shell-like, as is the shell of
the tortoise-for, by the way, the tortoise and the fresh water
tortoise belong to the tessellates. Thus, the old-age is sloughed
off by the gecko, the lizard, and above all, by serpents; and they
slough off the skin in springtime when emerging from their torpor, and
again in the autumn. Vipers also slough off their skin both in
spring and in autumn, and it is not the case, as some aver, that
this species of the serpent family is exceptional in not sloughing.
When the serpent begins to slough, the skin peels off at first from
the eyes, so that any one ignorant of the phenomenon would suppose the
animal were going blind; after that it peels off the head, and so
on, until the creature presents to view only a white surface all over.
The sloughing goes on for a day and a night, beginning with the head
and ending with the tail. During the sloughing of the skin an inner
layer comes to the surface, for the creature emerges just as the
embryo from its afterbirth.
All insects that slough at all slough in the same way; as the
silphe, and the empis or midge, and all the coleoptera, as for
instance the cantharus-beetle. They all slough after the period of
development; for just as the afterbirth breaks from off the young of
the vivipara so the outer husk breaks off from around the young of the
vermipara, in the same way both with the bee and the grasshopper.
The cicada the moment after issuing from the husk goes and sits upon
an olive tree or a reed; after the breaking up of the husk the
creature issues out, leaving a little moisture behind, and after a
short interval flies up into the air and sets a. chirping.
Of marine animals the crawfish and the lobster slough sometimes in
the spring, and sometimes in autumn after parturition. Lobsters have
been caught occasionally with the parts about the thorax soft, from
the shell having there peeled off, and the lower parts hard, from
the shell having not yet peeled off there; for, by the way, they do
not slough in the same manner as the serpent. The crawfish hides for
about five months. Crabs also slough off their old-age; this is
generally allowed with regard to the soft-shelled crabs, and it is
said to be the case with the testaceous kind, as for instance with the
large 'granny' crab. When these animals slough their shell becomes
soft all over, and as for the crab, it can scarcely crawl. These
animals also do not cast their skins once and for all, but over and
over again.
So much for the animals that go into hiding or torpidity, for
the times at which, and the ways in which, they go; and so much also
for the animals that slough off their old-age, and for the times at
which they undergo the process.
18

Animals do not all thrive at the same seasons, nor do they
thrive alike during all extremes of weather. Further animals of
diverse species are in a diverse way healthy or sickly at certain
seasons; and, in point of fact, some animals have ailments that are
unknown to others. Birds thrive in times of drought, both in their
general health and in regard to parturition, and this is especially
the case with the cushat; fishes, however, with a few exceptions,
thrive best in rainy weather; on the contrary rainy seasons are bad
for birds-and so by the way is much drinking-and drought is bad for
fishes. Birds of prey, as has been already stated, may in a general
way be said never to drink at all, though Hesiod appears to have
been ignorant of the fact, for in his story about the siege of Ninus

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