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the poor creature will take to the water, and drown every dog that comes near it. It is, however, extremely docile, and, with a little trouble, can be brought to follow its owner about the house or garden like a dog, eat out of the hand, and made as tractable and interesting as any other “ pet” animal.
One of the most remarkable animals in Australia is the platypus (Ornithorhyncus paradoxus)
—it has four legs, but has a bill exactly similar to that of a duck; lays eggs, and suckles its young. Its length from beak to tail is about fourteen inches, the circumference of the body eleven inches, beak two and a half, tail four and a half. It resembles the otter, though of inferior size; is covered with a very thick, soft, and beaver-like fur; the head is flat and rather small; and the legs short, terminating in a broad web, which on the fore feet extends nearly an inch beyond the claws. It is very shy, and only found in unfrequented places. It swims low in the water, frequently in company with the musk duck, and dives very rapidly. This very singular animal exhibits more decided indications of an union between the two great divisions of the vertebrata, than any quadruped yet known.
Birds are numerous, of great variety, and often of a beautiful plumage. The Emu, or
cassowary, is one of the most singular; its covering is more like hair than feathers, and from its being confined to the earth, the creature partakes little of the character of a bird; it is extremely fleet, outstripping the swiftest dog, and it kicks with such violence as to be
six to eighteen eggs have been found in one nest, and they are of stronger flavour than those of the ostrich. A portion of the emu is considered good eating, the flesh tasting like beef; but other portions are very oily and disagreeable. It is rapidly disappearing from the occupied districts.
The gigantic crane is a stately bird, about six feet high, of a pale ash colour, with a reddish tinge on the head: it is frequently seen on the borders of lakes and rivers, where also the black swan is found. The bustard, or native turkey, weighs from fifteen to eighteen pounds, and is good eating. Eagles and hawks are numerous : some of them white and very large, the eaglehawk measuring nine feet from wing to wing, and feathered to the toes. The pigeons and doves are certainly the most beautiful in the world ; the general tint of their plumage is a rich green, variegated with red, purple, or yellow about the head and breast; but others occur of a brown colour, relieved by spots on the wings of the richest colours, equal in brilliancy to the finest gems. The beautiful parrots, parrakeets, and cockatoos deserve notice also from their variety and brilliancy of plumage, their large numbers, as also from the facility with which the latter in particular are domesticated and learn to imitate sounds. Some of the
cockatoos are of a milk-white, others black, richly variegated on the tail with red, and with superb crests. There are a large number of
other extremely interesting birds, which it is not within our limits to enumerate or describe. We, however, spare space for an illustration of that singular and beautiful bird, the lyre-tailed pheasant.
Insects are very numerous, and of every variety, and have long afforded to the entomologist a wide field for examination. Locusts are common in some parts of the continent; butterflies are neither plentiful nor beautiful; of bees there are three kinds, the principal of which is not larger than a common-sized winged ant, and all of them are destitute of stings; these careful providers form their nests in the hollows of trees and rocks, and produce a large quantity of delicious wild honey. English bees have been introduced, and are multiplying fast. Ants exhibit several varieties, of which the largest, called the “ gigantic,” measures nearly an inch in length: their mounds are not raised so high as those of the ants in Africa, but they are inore solid and compact Flies are a great nuisance in summer, and one species in particular, called the blow-fly, taints and putrifies everything it touches. Mosquitoes have a particular partiality for new-comers, whom they attack for a short time with more than special eagerness, but they are gradually disappearing before civilization. Spiders are very large; one species in particular makes its nest in the earth five or six inches in depth, and with a