The Crocodile, or Alligator, pp.79-80.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

IS the largest of the Lizard species, and, amphibious as the hippopotamus, links himself with the fish by his being oviparous, whilst the whale that is confined to the regions of the deep, and cannot live out of them, bears resemblance to the quadrupeds by its bringing forth her young alive. This curious animal, whose haunts are the reedy banks of the Nile, of the Niger, in Africa, and of the river of the Amazons, in South America, is rather of a gregarious propensity, as they are sometimes found lying as close together as a raft of timber. The body of the crocodile is rough, with hard scales, and extends sometimes to the length of eighteen, twenty, and sometimes thirty feet, the tail being about five feet and a half; the paws are divided into five fingers, three of which have strong nails. The eye is very small in proportion to the whole bulk of the creature, and about one inch long in its wider diameter. The nose is in the middle of the upper jaw, and perfectly round and flat; the jaws seem to be locked one within another, and are armed with twenty-seven cutting teeth above and fifteen below, with interstices, sharp at top and large at the root. The distance between the two jaws is large enough to admit the body of a man. From the general account of this tremendous animal, his destructive powers may be easily conjectured; and whether attacking or attacked he is nearly invincible. By the reason of his legs being short, his walk on the ground is very slow, but he swims very fast. The female lays eggs in the sand, to the number of three hundred, which often become the prey of the vulture or other birds, providentially appointed by nature to lessen the multiplication of so dangerous a creature. They are not only sought eagerly by these, but also by the natives, being a very luscious food for them. We hear much said about the cunning and lurking of the Crocodile, of his imitating the groaning of a man, or the weeping of a child, to draw nearer the object of his search, man or beast; but most of these anecdotes are fabulous, and not worth mentioning in a book where we pledged ourselves to publish nothing but what is generally held as undisputable amongst the best observers of Nature. 

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