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History of Animals   


When they need no longer rub them against tree-trunks they quit
their hiding places, from a sense of security based upon the
possession of arms defensive and offensive. An Achaeine stag has
been caught with a quantity of green ivy grown over its horns, it
having grown apparently, as on fresh green wood, when the horns were
young and tender. When a stag is stung by a venom-spider or similar
insect, it gathers crabs and eats them; it is said to be a good
thing for man to drink the juice, but the taste is disagreeable. The
hinds after parturition at once swallow the afterbirth, and it is
impossible to secure it, for the hind catches it before it falls to
the ground: now this substance is supposed to have medicinal
properties. When hunted the creatures are caught by singing or
pipe-playing on the part of the hunters; they are so pleased with
the music that they lie down on the grass. If there be two hunters,
one before their eyes sings or plays the pipe, the other keeps out
of sight and shoots, at a signal given by the confederate. If the
animal has its ears cocked, it can hear well and you cannot escape its
ken; if its ears are down, you can.
6

When bears are running away from their pursuers they push their
cubs in front of them, or take them up and carry them; when they are
being overtaken they climb up a tree. When emerging from their
winter-den, they at once take to eating cuckoo-pint, as has been said,
and chew sticks of wood as though they were cutting teeth.
Many other quadrupeds help themselves in clever ways. Wild goats
in Crete are said, when wounded by arrows, to go in search of dittany,
which is supposed to have the property of ejecting arrows in the body.
Dogs, when they are ill, eat some kind of grass and produce
vomiting. The panther, after eating panther's-bane, tries to find some
human excrement, which is said to heal its pain. This panther's-bane
kills lions as well. Hunters hang up human excrement in a vessel
attached to the boughs of a tree, to keep the animal from straying
to any distance; the animal meets its end in leaping up to the
branch and trying to get at the medicine. They say that the panther
has found out that wild animals are fond of the scent it emits;
that, when it goes a-hunting, it hides itself; that the other
animals come nearer and nearer, and that by this stratagem it can
catch even animals as swift of foot as stags.
The Egyptian ichneumon, when it sees the serpent called the asp,
does not attack it until it has called in other ichneumons to help; to
meet the blows and bites of their enemy the assailants beplaster
themselves with mud, by first soaking in the river and then rolling on
the ground.
When the crocodile yawns, the trochilus flies into his mouth and
cleans his teeth. The trochilus gets his food thereby, and the
crocodile gets ease and comfort; it makes no attempt to injure its
little friend, but, when it wants it to go, it shakes its neck in
warning, lest it should accidentally bite the bird.
The tortoise, when it has partaken of a snake, eats marjoram; this
action has been actually observed. A man saw a tortoise perform this
operation over and over again, and every time it plucked up some
marjoram go back to partake of its prey; he thereupon pulled the
marjoram up by the roots, and the consequence was the tortoise died.
The weasel, when it fights with a snake, first eats wild rue, the
smell of which is noxious to the snake. The dragon, when it eats
fruit, swallows endive-juice; it has been seen in the act. Dogs,
when they suffer from worms, eat the standing corn. Storks, and all
other birds, when they get a wound fighting, apply marjoram to the
place injured.
Many have seen the locust, when fighting with the snake get a
tight hold of the snake by the neck. The weasel has a clever way of
getting the better of birds; it tears their throats open, as wolves do
with sheep. Weasels fight desperately with mice-catching snakes, as

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