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In the general form of its body the Coatimondi is not unlike the racoon, but it has a longer snout, which, like the trunk of the elephant, is moveable in all directions. Its eyes are small, but lively. The tail is marked with rings of black, and the body is covered with a short fur, which is rough on the back. When it sleeps it rolls itself into a lump, and often remains immoveable for fourteen or fifteen hours together. It may be tamed, and then becomes exceedingly playful and amusing.
Of the Sloth there are only three species, none of which are natives of Europe. There are two principal kinds, distinguished from each other by having three or two toes, the former of which is an inhabitant of South America. They are the most inactive of all living creatures. They have a clumsy form, languid and heavy eyes, and a countenance so expressive of misery as to excite compassion. The species represented in the engraving has three claws upon each foot, and a short tail. Its fur is long and coarse, somewhat resembling dried grass; the mouth extremely wide, and the legs and feet set on awkwardly, in an oblique direction, the sole of the foot seldom touching the ground, so that a few paces often require a journey of a week. When the animal has to make a step forward, it scrapes on the back of the nails against the surface, and wheeling the limb circularly about, yet still touching the ground, it at length places its foot in a progressive position; the other three limbs are brought about with the same difficulty, and thus it seldom moves above three feet in an hour. In fact, it seldom attempts to change its place till it is impelled by the severest stings of hunger.
The Sloth subsists wholly on vegetable food, and, as it is a great eater, it generally strips a tree of all its verdure in less than a fortnight. It then devours the bark, and thus in a short time, destroys the very source of its support. When this is the case, it either descends, or lets itself drop to the ground, the thickness of its skin and length of its hair protecting it from injury; and it then prepares for another tedious journey to some neighbouring tree, which is soon killed like the former. Its power of abstinence is very remarkable, and the strength of its feet so great, that whatever it seizes on cannot possibly be freed from its claws. It moves chiefly in the night, and at that season it utters its plaintive cry, which ascends and descends in perfect tune, through the hexachord, or six successive musical intervals.
The Two-toed Sloth, differs from the preceding animal in being considerably larger, much more active, and having only two claws upon the fore feet: it has also a longer snout, very different fur, and forty-six ribs, while the other has only twenty-eight. In every thing else it resembles the Three-toed Sloth. It is a native of the East Indies and Ceylon.
The two principal species of Camels are the Bactrian, or Two-hunched Camel, to which the name is usually given, and the Arabian, or Single-hunched Camel,which is called the Dromedary. The Bactrian Camel is from five to seven feet high at the shoulder, is a somewhat larger animal than the Arabian Camel, and, in proportion to its size, has shorter legs. The body is covered with dusky, or ash-coloured hair. It has a short head, small ears, and a long bending neck; and is rendered remarkable not only by the humps on its back, but by large callosities at the bottom of the breast, on the knees, and on the inside of each leg. The feet are flat and tough, divided above, but not quite through; which formation enables the animal to traverse the sandy deserts, without being subject to chaps in the hoof.
In Arabia and other countries where the Camel is trained to useful purposes, it is considered as a sacred animal, without which the natives could neither traffic, travel, nor subsist : its milk forms a considerable part of their nourishment; they clothe themselves with its hair, which is shed regularly once a year; and on the approach of enemies, they may, by mounting their Camels, flee to the distance of a hundred miles in a single day. It must also be observed that these quadrupeds are capable of such long abstinence, that they will travel for many days without a supply of water, and with no other food than a few dates, some small balls of barley meal, or the few thorny plants which they can find in the sandy deserts. This, however, partly results from the mode of bringing them up, and partly from the circumstance of the second stomach being of a construction which enables it to hold a greater quantity of water than is needful for the present use of the animal.
In the preceding article we have stated the principal differences which distinguish the Camel from the Dromedary. To these may be added, that the Bactrian Camel is more capable than the Dromedary of sure porting cold and moisture. It is to be found as far north as Lake Baikal, and it bears without injury the severity of a Siberian winter, which the Dromedary would be unable to sustain. Attempts have been made to introduce the Camel and Dromedary into our West India islands, but they have not succeeded.
In the southern division of the new world the Llama serves for the same purpose as the camel in the old. It is a native of the high mountainous districts of Peru, Chili, and other provinces. In height it is about four feet and a half, and in length nearly six feet, from the neck to the tail. It bears in form a general resemblance to the camel, but, instead of a protuberance on the back, it has one on the breast. When it is in its wild state, the hair is course, but it becomes fine when the animal is domesticated. Its colour is white, gray, and russet, disposed in spots. They move at a grave pace, and will sometimes travel four or five days before they seem to require repose. They will then rest spontaneously for twenty or thirty hours. On the driver attempting to force them forward by blows, be ‘ore they chose to proceed, they have been known to kill themselves, by striking their heads against the ground in their rage. They browse the herbage as they travel, and ruminate at night. Their mode of expressing anger is by ejecting their saliva, which has erroneously been supposed to have a corrosive quality.