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severely; but I caught many by the tail, and they never tried to bite me. If two are placed on the ground and held together, they will fight, and bite each other till blood is drawn. The little birds know how harmless these creatures are: I have seen one of the thick-billed finches picking at one end of a piece of cactus while a lizard was eating at the other end; and afterward the little bird, with the utmost in. difference, hopped on the back of the reptile. I opened the stomachs of several, and found them full of vegetable fibres and leaves of different trees, especially of an acacia. To obtain the acacia-leaves they crawl up the low, stunted trees; and it is not uncommon to see a pair quietly browsing, while seated on a branch several feet above the ground.
In the woods on Charles Island there are many wild pigs and goats, but the chief article of animal food is supplied by the tortoises. Their numbers have, of course, been greatly reduced, but the people yet count on two days' hunting giving them food for the rest of the week. It is said that formerly single vessels have taken away as many as seven hundred, and that the ship's company of a frigate some years since brought down, in one day, two hundred tortoises to the beach. Some grow to an immense size: Mr. Lawson, an Englishman, and vice-governor of the colony, told us that he had seen several so large that it required six or eight men to lift them from the ground, and that some had yielded as much as two hundred pounds of meat. The old males
are the largest, the females rarely growing to so great a size: the male can readily be distinguished from the female by the greater length of its tail. The tortoises which live on those islands where there is no water, or in the lower and dry parts of the other islands, feed chiefly on the juicy cactus. They are very fond of water, drinking large quantities, and wallowing in the mud. The larger islands alone have springs, and these are always situated toward the central parts, and at a considerable height. The tortoises, therefore, which inhabit the lower districts, are obliged, when thirsty, to travel from a long distance. Hence, broad and wellbeaten paths branch off in every direction from the wells down to the sea.coast; and the Spaniards, by following them up, first discovered the water. ing places. When I landed at Chatham Island I could not imagine what animal travelled so methodically along wellchosen tracks. Near the springs it was a curious spectacle to behold many of these huge creatures —one set eagerly travelling onward with outstretched necks, and another set returning, after having drunk their fill. When the tortoise arrives at the spring he buries his head in the water above his eyes, and greedily swallows great mouthfuls, at the rate of about ten in a minute. The inhabitants say each animal
stays three or four days in the neighborhood of the water, and then returns to the lower country; but they differed as to the frequency of these visits, which probably depends on the nature of the food on which the animal has lived. It is, however, certain that tortoises can subsist even on those isl. ands where there is no other water than what falls during a few rainy days in the year. I believe it is well ascertained that the bladder of the frog acts as a reservoir for the moisture necessary to its existence: such seems to be the case with the tortoise.
The tortoises, when purposely moving toward any point, travel by night and day, and arrive at their journey's end much sooner than would be expected. The inbabitants, from observing marked individuals, consider that they travel a distance of about eight miles in two or three days. One large tortoise which I watched, walked at the rate of sixty yards in ten minutes—that is, three hundred and sixty yards in the hour, or four miles a day, allowing a little time for it to eat on the road. They were at this time (October) laying their eggs. The female, where the soil is sandy, deposits them together, and covers them up with sand; but where the ground is rocky she drops them about in any hole. The young tortoises, as soon as they are hatched, fall a prey in great numbers to the carrion-feeding buzzard. The old ones seem generally to die from accidents, as from falling down precipices; at least, several of the inhabitants told me that they had never found one dead without some evident cause.
The inhabitants believe that these animals are absolutely deaf; certainly they do not overhear a person walking close
behind them. I was always amused, when overtaking one of these great monsters, as it was quietly pacing along, to see how suddenly, the instant I passed, it would draw in its head and legs, and, uttering a deep hiss, fall to the ground with a heavy sound, as if struck dead. I frequently got on their backs, and then giving a few raps on the hinder part of their shells, they would rise up and walk away; but I found it very difficult to keep my balance. In order to secure the tortoises, it is not enough to turn them over like turtle, for they are often able to get on their legs again.
NEAR Bahia Blanca I found but one little toad, which was most singular from its color. If we imagine, first, that it had been steeped in the blackest ink, and then, when dry, allowed to crawl over a board freshly painted with the brightest vermilion, so as to color the soles of its feet and parts of its stomach, a good idea of its appearance will be gained. Instead of going about by night, as other toads do, and living in damp and dark recesses, it crawls during the heat of the day about the dry sand-billocks and arid plains, where not a single drop of water can be found. It must necessarily depend on the dew for its moisture; and this, probably, is absorbed by the skin. At Maldonado I found one in a situation nearly as dry as at Bahia Blanca, and, thinking to give it a great treat, carried it to a pool of wa. ter; not only was the little animal unable to swim, but, I think, without help it would soon have been drowned.
I was much interested, on several occasions, at the Cape de Verd Islands, by watching the habits of an Octopus, or
cuttle-fish. Although common in the pools of water left by the retir. ing tide, these animals were not easily caught. By means of their long arms and suckers they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices; and, when thus
fixed, it required great force to remove them. At other times they darted tail first, with the rapidity of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discoloring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink. These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon - like power of changing their color. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one of a yellowish green. I was much amused by the various arts to escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully aware that I was watching it. Remaining for a time motionless, it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a cat after a mouse,