Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

CARNIVORA.]

BATS—THE KALONG.

21

he shall utterly abolish: and they shall go into sixteen different species indigenous in Great Briholes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth,tain are now, however, known; these are referfor fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his able to three different genera, namely, Rhinolomajesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the phus, distinguished by leaf-like membranes on earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of the nose; Vespertilio, of which our common bat silver, and his idols of gold, which they made is the example; and Plecotus, embracing such as each one for himself to worship, to the moles and have large expanding ears. In general habits and to the bats.”

manners they all agree, but they differ as to When the inspired writers of the sacred volume the periods of hybernation and activity. The avail themselves of the objects of nature, either Pipistrelle, a common bat, (Vespertillo pipistrelin illustration of their subject, or in connexion lus) appears earlier in the year, and retires later with it, we cannot fail to be struck, however ca- than any other; the great bat, (V. noctula,) selsual or slight the allusion may be, with a philo- dom appears before the end of April, and retires sophic correctness, which is hardly overstepped in August. In that delightful book, White's even when that allusion is clothed in the elevated “ Natural History of Selborne,” we find the foldiction of poetry.

lowing sketch, which we take the liberty of preThe Bat was well known throughout Syria; senting to our readers. He says, “ I was much and the crevices, the lonely caverns, and sepul- entertained last summer with a tame bat, which chres in the rocks around Jerusalem fur- would take flies out of a person's hand. If you nished in the days of old, as in the present, a gave it any thing to eat, it brought its wings secluded hiding-place. One idea, therefore, which round before the mouth, hovering and hiding its the inspired writer designed to convey was that bead, in the manner of birds of prey when they of neglect and loneliness: their idols should be feed. The adroitness it showed in shearing off consigned to oblivion, their temples to ruin ; the wings of the flies, which were always reman should forsake them, and the seclusion-lov-jected, was worthy of observation, and pleased ing bat should make the halls, once thronged me much. Insects seemed to be most acceptable, with idolatrous worshippers, its solitary abode ; though it did not refuse raw flesh when offered or the idols should be cast out of every house so that the notion that bats go down chimneys and temple, and thrown among the caves and and gnaw the bacon, seems no improbable story. desolate places of the rocks, where even their While I amused myself with this wonderful quảmemory should be lost. Another idea was that druped, I saw it several times confute the vulgar of disgust or contempt. The bat, by the Jewish opinion, that bats when down on a flat surface laws, was accounted unclean, and consequently cannot get on the wing again, by rising with held in abhorrence: it was unfit for food ; it was great ease from the floor. It ran, I observed, no welcome guest in Judea : to consign the idols with more ease than I was aware of, but in a to the bats, therefore, implied aversion, degra- most ridiculous and grotesque manner. Bats dation, and reproach. Hence we see that the pro- | drink on the wing, like swallows, by sipping the phet used no random expression, but the most surface as they play over pools and streams. striking and appropriate which he could possi- | They love to frequent waters not only for the bly have selected, and one the force of which a sake of drinking, but on account of insects which Jew would have felt in its fullest meaning. are found over them in the greatest plenty. As

The Jewish dispensation, fettered with cere- I was going some years ago, pretty late, in a monies and observances heavy to be borne, has boat from Richmond to Sunbury, on a warm been happily abrogated by a better dispensation summer's evening, I think I saw myriads of bats promulgated by the blessed Messiah, whose between the two places; the air swarmed with

yoke is easy,” and whose “ burden is light.” | them all along the Thames, so that hundreds To us, therefore, the bat is no foul thing of dark- were in sight at a time.” ness, but an interesting little animal, associated To persons accustomed only to our British with recollections of summer-eve, and peace, and bats, the size of some of the foreign species must quiet hours of contemplation. Who cannot re- appear a little startling. Among the Roussettes, trace—who does not love to retrace the walk by or fruit-eating bats, (Pteropus,) all distinguish“woods, and lawns, and living stream at eve,” able for their great extent of wing, we may nowhen the toils of the day and the hurry of busi- tice a species described by Dr. Horsfield, as the ness are over? At such a time, while all around Kalong, (Pteropus Javanicus,) which that emibreathes of the beneficence of the Great Creator, nent naturalist considers as the largest of the and the calm repose of the hour blending with genus hitherto discovered. “ In adult subjects the rural harmony of the scene has awakened the extent of the expanded wings is full five feet, trains of thought absorbing every feeling of the and the length of the body one foot.” soul, how often has this little plunderer, uttering its shrill scream as it has wheeled rapidly round The KALONG (See Engraving, No. 8,) is exour head, broken in upon our musings, and in- tremely abundant in the lower parts of Java, but terrupted our train of reflection ! and yet it is a does not visit the elevated districts. Numerous infavourite: the old trees, the river, the antique dividuals, often in companies to the amount of sefarm-house, the cool sequestered lane require its veral hundreds, fix upon a tree for their roostingpresence at the twilight hour to make the charm place, where suspended in rows and clusters by complete.

their hinder claws, with their heads hanging downIt is but within a few years that naturalists wards, and their wings folded round them, they have paid much attention to this singular family, exhibit a singular spectacle. A species of ficus, and consequently the number of species correctly often growing near the villages, is a very favourmade out has been but very limited. Fifteen or ite retreat. During the day they are in general

66

22

THE KALONG, VAMPIRE-THE HEDGEHOG,

[CARNIVORA.

vour.

silent, but if disturbed, they utter sharp pierc- , be supposed. The blood that is drawn in cases ing shrieks; and their awkward endeavours to of this description does not come from the veins secure a shade from the oppression of the light or from the arteries, because the wound does not are extremely ludicrous. If suddenly killed extend so far, but from the capillary vessels of while thus suspended, they remain in that posi- the skin, extracted thence, without doubt, by these tion after death. Soon after sunset they leave bats by the action of sucking or licking.” their roosting-place, and begin their nightly Upon examination, however, it would appear, search for food. All kinds of fruit, from the that the punctures are made with the tongue, “abundant and useful cocoa-nut, which surrounds and, as it regards man at least, are far from beevery dwelling of the meanest peasant, to the ing attended with any formidable consequences; rare and most delicate productions which are cul- nor do the hats, as the story goes, fan the victim tivated with care by princes and chiefs of dis- with their wings, so as to lull him into a profound tinction,” they indiscriminately attack and de- sleep (while banqueting at his expense) from

which he never wakes. On the contrary, D’AzThe flight of the Kalong, unlike that of our zara positively asserts, that “no one in our bats, so characterised by abrupt and sudden neighbourhood fears these animals, nor gives turns, is slow and steady, pursued in a straight himself any trouble about them.” line, and capable of long continuance. The To give our readers some idea of the number shooting of this animal during the fine moonlight of distinct species, inhabitants of different counnights, which in Java are uncommonly serene, tries, which this family comprehends, we may is not only practised as an amusement, but as a state, that the well defined genera given in M. means of preventing its ravages.

Lesson's “ Manual de Mammalogie” amount to Superstition magnifies trifles. We are all aware thirty-three ; to which many others have been of the terror associated with the name of the recently added; so that the number of species Vampire: the rapacity for blood which many may be roughly estimated at more than two species exhibit, has not only been heightened by hundred. fear, but has proved the foundation of many wild and marvellous tales, coloured by romance, and Having spoken thus generally of the Cheiroppropagated by credulity. Stripped, however, of tera, or family of bats, a family throughout the exaggeration of fiction, observers have agreed which there prevails a marked uniformity, notin attributing to several species of the Phyllos- withstanding those differences on which minor toma, as well as to the Vampire, (the sole species divisions are instituted, we shall proceed to introof the genus Vampirus,) an appetite for blood, duce the next family to the notice of our readers. and the faculty of sucking it from the veins of It is termed Insectivora, or the Insectivorus Famen and animals. These two genera are exclu- mily, because it comprehends those animals sively South American : we believe, however, whose food is especially insects, or at least those that to some of the larger species of the older whose dentition indicates that such form their continents the same propensities have been attri- principal diet, although not perhaps exclusively; buted. Respecting the blood-sucking bats of since smaller animals, and sometimes even vegeAmerica, Pison has given some very circum- | table substances, must be likewise added. stantial details; and similar accounts are to be Strictly speaking, the bats, as we have seen, found in the writings of many authors. In the are insectivorous; but as they possess striking Natural History of Paraguay, by Don Felix d'Az- peculiarities of structure outweighing this chazara, an observer distinguished for accuracy and racteristic, they form with propriety a separate discrimination, we are presented with a confir-family: like them, however, the Insectivoru, mation of the testimony of other authors.“ The par excellence, have their molar teeth bristling species with a leaf upon the nose,” says this in- with conical points, are most commonly nocturtelligent writer, 6 differs from the other bats, in nal in their habits, and in colder climates pass being able to run when on the ground nearly as the winter in a state of lethargy. Their limbs fast as a rat, and in their fondness for sucking are short, their motions feeble, and in walking the blood of animals. Sometimes they will bite their entire sole is applied to the ground. Some the crests and beards of fowls while asleep, and lead a life entirely subterraneous. suck the blood. The fowls generally die of this, One of the most familiar examples of this faas a gangrene is engendered in the wounds. mily is that cruelly treated animal, the COMMON They bite also horses, mules, asses, and horned HedgeHOG, (Erinaceus Europæus.) (See Encattle, usually on the buttocks, shoulders, or graving, No. 9.) neck, as they are better enabled to arrive at This well known animal frequents woods, those parts from the facilities afforded them by copses, and thickly tangled hedge-rows, where, the mane or tail. Nor is man himself secure closely concealed in some crevice between the from their attacks: on this point, indeed, I am moss-grown roots of a tree, among a mass of wienabled to give a very faithful testimony, since thered leaves, or in a hole it has excavated, it I have had the ends of my toes bitten by them remains, rolled up like a ball, during the day, four times while I was sleeping in the cottages in presenting a surface of bristling spines, which the open country. The wounds which they in- constitute an apparatus of defence, should its flicted, without my feeling them at the time, were retreat be discovered. As the dusk of evening circular and rather elliptical ; their diameter was comes on, the hedgehog issues from its lurkingtrifling, and their depth so superficial as scarcely place, and prowls about for food. Often while to penetrate the cutis. It was easy also, on ex- walking at night-fall among the woods near amination, to perceive that these wounds were Bakewell, where these animals abound, has the made by suction, and not by puncture, as might author watched them tripping along the narrow

CARNIVORA.]

HEDGEHOG-TENRECTENDRAC-SHREWS.

23

paths and among the long grass with a noiseless placed one or two little teeth, and four triangustep, and ears attentive to the slightest sound. lar and pointed molares. They have no tail, If pursued, they make no attempt to escape by and the muzzle is very pointed. flight, but instantly roll themselves up, and trust to their panoply of spines for safety : when the The next genus of the Insectivorous family danger is over, they cautiously unfold, listen at- which we shall notice is that of the SHREWS, tentively, and, if all seems safe, continue their (Sorex.) The Shrews form a numerous group, ramble. This faculty of assuming the figure of confined to the older continents, and almost ena ball of spines is the only means of self-preser- tirely of recent discovery. The sole species vation bestowed by the Author of nature on this which was formerly known to naturalists, before little animal: weak and timid, it has only this strict accuracy characterized scientific studies, panoply in which to trust; but it may be said to was confounded with the mice, a genus belonging be strong in its weakness, since this passive mode to quite a different order, namely, Rodentia ; and of defence renders it nearly impregnable to the Pliny notices it under the name of Mus araneus, attacks of its enemies.

from which its present French name, MusThe feet of the Hedgehog are plantigrade, and araigne, is derived. On Pliny's authority it was furnished with five toes, armed with very long long retained among the mice, till Daubenton, in nails, adapted to the purpose of digging ; the ear 1756, added another to the list, and confirmed is rounded; the eye small; the two middle inci- the propriety of the genus Sorex, which had then sor teeth are long and cylindrical, and between been recently established. those in the upper jaw some distance intervenes, The Shrews are yet accounted as kinds of mice while in the lower they are close together ; the by persons in general; they have, however, no true molares are furnished with four pointed tu- immediate relation to these animals; and if any bercles, except in the first, where there are only of our intelligent readers will take the trouble to three. Its food is insects, snails, frogs, fruit, examine and compare their teeth together, he together with succulent roots, for which it bur- will immediately be satisfied upon the subject. rows with the nose. It is useful in gardens, and The two middle incisor teeth above are crooked, often kept at large in kitchens for the destruction and indented at their base; those of the lower of beetles. Pallas has remarked, as a singular jaw prolonged and inclining ; five little teeth in fact, that it will eat hundreds of the blistering fly the upper jaw succeed ; two only in the lower; with impunity, while in other animals a single and after these, in each, three pointed molares ; one is the cause of excruciating torments and to which, in the upper jaw, a little tubercular death. In the second volume of the Zoological molar is added, which terminates the series. Journal, we have a curious relation of an en- These little animals are easily distinguishable counter between a Hedgehog and a snake, from from mice by the conical form of the head also, which we are led to conclude, that snakes not un- and the attenuated nose tapering to a long profrequently furnish a meal to these carnivorous jecting point. They place the entire sole of the little quadrupeds. The Hedgehog was, and we foot on the ground, a circumstance which gives believe is, regarded in some countries by the ig- | the legs the appearance of shortness; the ears norant with aversion, who allege, as an excuse are rounded ; along the sides of the body are for their cruelty towards it, that it is guilty of small glands secreting a humour of a peculiar and draining the milk and poisoning the udders of unpleasant odour. In England there are three the cows while sleeping in their pasture; an opi- species; the one the well known COMMON SHREW, nion too absurd to be worth the trouble of re- (Sorex araneus,) which frequents meadows and futing. This animal is an inhabitant of the sunny banks, where its shrill piercing cry may whole of Europe, excepting the colder regions of be often heard in spring and summer. In Authe north ; and even in the warmest countries gust, numbers of these animals are found dead by passes the winter in a state of lethargy, covered the sides of banks and along the pathways, withwith leaves and moss. India, Egypt, Turkey, out any known cause to account for this extenand Africa, present other species, making up a sive mortality. group of about six; and their habits, as far as The two others are called WATER SHREWS, and known, resemble those of the European species. frequent the banks of rivers, ponds, and marshes.

The larger species is the Sorex fodiens, of which Differing from the hedgehog in many essential we have the following notice in No. 23 of Loupoints, but possessed, like it, of a spiny coat of don's Magazine, for 1832 :—“ This curious little mail, and the faculty of rolling up, though not animal is not often seen, except by those acinto so complete a ball, are three animals pecu- quainted with its habits ; it resembles the Comliar to Madagascar, which form the genus Cen- mon Shrew, but is twice the size; the upper part tetes: two of these were known to Linnæus, and of the body black ; beneath, dirty white; the fur placed by him in the genus Erinaceus, from like that of a mole. Water Shrews live in the which they are now rightly separated. These banks of rivulets and spring-water ditches, and animals are the TENREC, (Centetes acaudatus ;) appear to collect their food, which probably conthe TENDRAC, (C. setosus ;) and the VARIED TEN- sists of the larvæ of the ephemeral flies, from REC, (C. semispinosus,) which last is scarcely among the loose mud. If cautiously watched, larger than a mole. The first has been natural- they being naturally shy, they may be seen ized in the Isle of France. All we know of them crouching at the mouths of their holes, looking is, that they are nocturnal, and, although in the intently into the water. Should a shoal of mintorrid zone, pass three months of the year in nows or sticklebacks pass near, the Shrew plunges lethargy. In each jaw there are four or six in- amongst them, but seldom succeeds in making a cisores and two large canine, behind which are capture, and, retiring to his station, looks out

« PreviousContinue »