The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Llama
Story Of The Carpincho
Story Of The Ant-eater
Story Of The Ostrich
Story Of The Lizard
Story Of The Kangaroo
Story Of The Hedgehog.
Story Of The Wild Goat
Story Of The Musquash
Story Of The Wart-hog
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Story Of The Lizard
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In this country there are many harmless species of lizard, but in the Rocky Mountain region are found some that are exceedingly poisonous. The desert lizard, which ranges from Central America to Arizona and New Mexico, is the only one that has a deadly sting. The fairy-like teeth have grooves for the transmission of the fluid similar to the cobra.
The lizards are usually active, bright-eyed little creatures, delighting to bask in the sun, near some safe retreat, to, which they dart with astonishing celerity upon the slightest alarm. Two, species of lizards are found in the eastern and central states the common lizard and the sand lizard. The latter animal is considerably larger than the common lizard, as it sometimes measures a foot in length. It frequents sandy heaths, and in the sand its eggs are deposited, fourteen or fifteen in number. The eggs are hatched by the heat of the sun, and the young immediately lead an independent life. During the winter this as well as the common lizard hibernates in a burrow usually made under the roots of a tree, nor does it again make its appearance until the spring.
The common lizard is only six inches in length. It is more active than the sand lizard, disappearing like magic on being alarmed. When seized, its tail frequently snaps off like grass.
The heart in man and the higher animals is divided into a double set of compartments, technically termed auricles and ventricles, each set having no direct communication with the other. In the reptiles, however, this structure is considerably modified, the arterial and venous blood finding a communication either within or just outside the two ventricles, so that the blood is never so perfectly aerated as in the higher animals. The blood is consequently much colder than in the creatures where the oxygen obtains a freer access to its particles.
In consequence of this organization the whole character of the reptiles is widely different from that of the higher animals. Dull sluggishness seems to be the general character of a reptile, for though there are some species which whisk about with lightning speed, and others, especially the larger lizards, can be lashed into a state of terrific frenzy by love, rage or hunger, their ordinary movements are inert, their gestures express no feeling, and their eyes, though bright, are stony, cold and passionless. Their mode of feeding accords with the general habits of their bodies, and the process of digestion is peculiarly slow.
The most peculiar feature of the lizard is the facility with which it is enabled to, reproduce lost parts, and more especially the tail. In many lizards, when handled, the tail breaks off without any rough usage, and in all or nearly all it will readily come two if pulled when the creature is seeking to escape. Such missing portion of the tail is speedily reproduced, and whereas the scaling of the reproduced portion is like the original, in certain other forms this is by no means always the case.
The water monitor is a native of those parts of Africa through which the Nile, its favorite river, flows.
The natives have a curious idea that it is hatched from crocodile's eggs that have been laid on hot elevated spots, and that in process of time it becomes a crocodile. It is almost always found in the water, though it some-times makes excursions on land in search of prey. To the natives it is a most useful creature, being one of the appointed means for keeping the numbers of the crocodile within due bounds. It not only searches on land for the eggs of the crocodile, and thus destroys great numbers before they are hatched, but chases the young in the water, and devours them unless they can take refuge under the adult of their own species, which the monitor will not dare attack.
When full grown, the water monitor attains a length of five or six feet. The color of this species is olive-gray above, with blackish mottlings. The head is gray, and, in the young animal, is marked with concentric rows of white spots. Upon the back of the neck is a series of whitish yellow bands, of a horse-shoe, or semi-lunar shape, set crosswise, which, together with the equal-sized scales over the eyes, serve as marks which readily distinguish it from many other species. The under parts are gray, with cross bands of black, and marked with white spots when young.
The lizards commonly known as flying dragons are elegant and harmless little creatures to whom such a title seems inappropriate, and therefore I prefer to substitute the name of flying lizards. These flying lizards, which are represented by twenty-one species, ranging over the greater part of the Oriental region, are at once distinguished from all their kindred by the de-pressed body being provided with a large wing-like membranous expansion, capable of being folded up like a fan. The throat is furnished with a large membranous expansion, on the sides of which are a smaller pair; and the tail is long and whiplike. The best known of the species is the Malay flying lizard.
The flying lizards generally frequent the crown of trees, and as they are comparatively scarce, and seldom descend to the ground, they are but rarely seen. As the lizard lies in shade along the trunk of a tree, its colors at a distance appear like a mixture of brown and gray, and render it scarcely distinguishable from the bark. There it remains with no sign of life, except the restless eyes, watching passing insects, which, suddenly expanding its wings, it seizes with a sometimes considerable, unerring leap. The lizard itself appears to possess no power of changing its colors. When excited, the appendages on the throat are expanded or erected; and the ordinary movements of the creature take the form of a series of leaps.
There is an Australian species commonly known as the moloch, but termed by the settlers the spiny lizard or thorny devil, which seems of peculiar interest to me. This differs from all the other members of the family in being covered with large conical spines. About eight inches in total length, this extraordinary lizard has a small head, with an extremely short snout, on the summit of which are pierced the nostrils. On each side of the head immediately above the small eye is a large horn curving outwards and backwards, while there is a smaller conical spine above the nostril, a second behind the horn over the eye, a third and larger one in front of each ear, as well as one on each side. On the back the spines form ten or more series, of which the outermost are the largest.
Inhabiting Southern and Western Australia, and being not uncommon in several localities in the neighborhood of Port Augusta, the moloch is found only in districts where the soil is dry and sandy. Occasionally two or three may be observed basking in company on the top of a sandhill; and it is the frequent habit of this lizard to bury itself in the sand to a small depth below the surface. Although generally very slow in its movements, it has been known, when disturbed, to make for a neighboring hole with considerable speed.