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THE HERMIT CRAB-THE LOBSTER.
THE HERMIT CRAB.
THE HERMIT CRAB.
Having no shell to any part but its nippers, the Hermit Crab supplies by art what is denied to it by nature: for, taking possession of the deserted shell of some other animal, it occupies that, till, by becoming too large for its habitation, it is under the necessity of changing it.
It is curious enough, in some coun. tries, to observe this animal busily parading the sea-shore, along that line of pebbles and shells, which is formed by the furthest wave; still, however, dragging its old incommodious habitacion at its tail, unwilling to part with one shell, even though a troublesome appendage, till it can meet with another more convenient. It stops first at one shell, turns it, passes by; then goes to another, contem. plates that for a while, and, slipping its tail from the old habitation, tries on the new one. If this be found inconvenient, it quickly resumes the old one. It thus frequently changes, till at length it finds one that is light, roomy and commodious. To this it adheres, though the shell be sometimes so large as to hide both the body and claws of the animal.
But many trials and many combats are sometimes to be sustained by the Hermit Crab, before he is thus equipped: for there is often a contest between two of these animals for some favorite shell. They both endeavor to take possession. They strike with their claws, and bite each other, till the weakest is compelled to yield. The victor then takes possession, and, in his new acquisition, parades backward and forward on the strand, before his envious antagonist. These Crabs feed on small marine animals of various kinds.
These animals are extremely prolific. Dr. Baster says he counted twelve thousand four hundred and forty-four eggs under the tail of a female Lobster, besides those that remained in the body unprotruded. They deposit these eggs in the sand, where they are soon hatched.
Like the rest of their tribe, they are said annually to cast their shells. Previously to putting off their old shell, they appear sick, languid, and restless. They acquire an entirely new.covering in á few days; but during the time that they remain defenceless, they seek some lonely place, lest they should be attacked and devoured by euch of their brethren as are not in the same weak condition.
At the same time that they cast their shell, they change also their
stomach and intestines. The animal, while it is moulting, is said to
feed upon its former sto mach, which wastes by degrees, and is at length replaced by a new one.
Like some of the Crabs, these animals are said to be attached to particular parts of the sea.
The pincers of one of the Lobster's large claws are furnished with knobs, and those of the other are always serrated. With the former it keeps firm
hold of the stalks of submarine plants, and with the latter it cuts and minces its food very dexterously. The knobbed or numb claw, as the fishermen call it, is sometimes on the right, and sometimes on the left side, indifferently. It is more dangerous for a person to be seized by the cutting claw than the other; but, in either case, the quickest way of getting disengaged from the creature, is to pluck off its claw.
In the water these animals are able to run nimbly upon their legs or small claws; and, if alarmed, they can spring, tail foremost, to a surprising distance, almost as swiftly as a bird can fly. The fisherinen can see them pass about thirty feet, and, by the swiftness of their motion, it is supposed that they may go much further. When frightened, they will spring from a considerable distance to their hold in the rock; and, what is not less surprising than true, will throw themselves into their hold in that manner, through an entrance scarcely sufficient for their bodies to pass.
The circumstance of Lobsters losing their claws at thunder-claps, or the sound of cannon, is well authenticated; and the fishermen are often jestingly threatened with a salute by the sailors. The restoration of claws thus lost may always be observed; for these never again grow to their former size. When the claws of Lobsters become incon. venient to the animals, from being injured, they always break them off
THE PRAWN, AND SHRIMP. Prawns are chiefly found among sea-weed, and in the vicinity of rocks at a little distance from the shore. They seldom enter the inoutbs of rivers. Their usual mode of swimming is on their backs; but when threatened with danger, they throw themselves on one side, and spring backward to very consderable distances. They feed on all the smaller kinds of marine animals, which they seize and devour with great voracity. In their turn, they are the prey of numerous species of fish; although the sharp and serrated horn in front of their bead constitutes a very powerful weapon of defence against the attacks of all the smaller kinds.
THE PRAWN, AND SORIMP.
Being in great request for the table, these are eagerly sought for by fishermen, who catch them either in osier baskets, simi. lar to those employed in catching Lobsters, or in a kind of nets, called putting nets. These, which are well known to all frequenters of the sea-coasts, are five or six feet in width, and flat at the bottom; and are pushed along in the shallow water, upon the sandy shores, by a nian who walks behind. Wben fresh the color of the Prawn is somewhat cinerous; but, when boiled, it changes to a beautiful light red.
At the side of the head there is frequently to be observed a large and apparently unnatural lump. This, if examined, will be found to contain, under the thoracic plate, a species of crustaceous animal
, which occupies the whole cavity, and there feeds, and perfects its growth. The Shrimp is much smaller than the Prawn, and is by no means
so much esteemed for the table as this. It frequents sandy sea-shores in great abundance, and not unfrequently enters harbors, and even the ditches and ponds of salt-marshes
. Its habits and economy are, in most respects, similar to those of the Prawn.
THE COMMON, OR FRESH-WATER CRAW-FISH.
Craw-fish are found in many rivers, odged in holes wnich they
form in the clayey banks; and their presence is gener ally esteemed an evidence of the goodness of the water. They are frequently caught by sticks split at the end, with a bait inserted in the cleft, and stuck in the mud at the distance of a few feet from each other. These sticks after remain. ing some time, are taken up, and generally with an animal adhering to each. They are gently drawn out of the mud, and a basket is
put under them to receive the animals, which always drop off when brought to the surface of the water.
OF THE SCOLOPENDRÆ, OR CENTIPEDES.
CENTIPEDES live chiefly on insects, and inhabit decayed wood, or hollows under stones. Those that frequent hot climates are large
many of them are very venomous. All the species have tapering antennæ, and two thread-shaped feelers united between the jaws. The body is long, depressed, and consists of numerous transverse segments, each of which is furnished with a pair of legs.
THE GREAT CENTIPEDE,
THE GREAT CENTIPEDE.
The Great Centipedes vary much both in size and color. Some of them are of a deep reddish brow!!, others of a yellow ochre color, livid yellow, or tinged with red; and they are sometimes seen more than a foot in length. Their legs terminate in very sharp hooks, or nails of a shining black color.
None of the insect tribe, the Scorpions excepted, are so formidable in appearance as the Centipede.
ZaAVITYTMI It is found in the East and West Indies, and in various parts of Africa, inbab. iting chiefly the woods, where it is preyed upon by the different species of snakes. It is, however, sometimes found in houses, and is said to be so common in particular districts, that the inhabitants are obliged to have the feet of their beds placed in vessels of water, in order to prevent their being annoyed during the night by these horrible reptiles. Gronovius that all the legs of this animal are venomous;
but its most formidable weapons are the two sharp and hooked instruments, that are placed under the mouth, with which it destroys its prey. At the extremity of each of these there is a small opening, through which it is supposed the Centipede emits the poisonous fluid into the wound inflicted by the fangs.
Leeuwenhoek, desirous of ascertaining some facts relative to the poison emitted by the Centipede, placed a large fly within the reach of one of these animals. He seized it between a pair of the middle feet, then passed it from one pair to the next, till it was brought under the fangs; which were plunged into its body, and it died instantly. M. St. Piere says, that, in the Isle of France, his dog was bitten by a Centipede upwards of six inches in length, and that the wound became ulcerous, and was three weeks in healing. He was highly diverted in observing one of these animals overcome by a vast number of Ants, that attacked it in conjunction, and, after having seized it by all its legs, bore it along, as workmen would have done a large piece of timber. The poison of the Centipede is not more injurious than that of the Scorpion, and seldom proves fatal to the larger animals.
Some of the American Indians eat Centipedes.