The Burgess Animal Book for Children Natural History
"Well, all I can say is that he must be a mighty queerlooking fellow," declared Peter."He is," replied Old Mother Nature. "He is about thesize of Unc' Billy Possum, and if you can imagine a pigof about that size with very short legs, a long taperingtail, feet with toes and long claws and a shell coveringhis whole body, the front of his face and even his tail,you will have something of an idea what he looks like."He lives down in the hot Southwest where Piggy thePeccary lives. His coat of shell is yellowish in color andis divided in the middle of his body into nine narrowbands or joints. Because of this he is called the Nine-banded Armadillo. In the countries to the south of thishe has a cousin with three bands and another with six.Hardshell's head is very long and he carries it pointedstraight down. His small eyes are set far back, and atthe top of his head are rather large upright ears. Theshell of his tail is divided into many jointed rings sothat he can move it at will."His tongue is long and sticky. This is so that he canrun it out for some distance and sweep up the Antsand insects on which he largely lives. His eyesight andhearing are not very good, and having such a heavy,stiff coat he is a poor runner. But he is a good digger.This means, of course, that he makes his home in ahole in the ground. When frightened he makes for this,but if overtaken by an enemy he rolls up into a balland is safe from all save those with big and strongenough teeth to break through the joints of his shell.He eats some vegetable matter and is accused of eating the eggs of ground-nesting birds, and of deaddecayed flesh he may find. However, his food consistschiefly of Ants, insects of various kinds, and worms. Heis a harmless little fellow and interesting because he isso queer. He is sometimes killed and eaten by man andhis flesh is considered very good. He has from four toeight babies in the early spring. The baby Armadillohas a soft, tough skin instead of a shell, and as itgrows it hardens until by the time it is fully grown ithas become a shell."Now this finishes the lessons about the land animalsor mammals. There are other mammals who live in theocean, which is the salt water which surrounds theland, and which, I guess, none of you have ever seen.Some of these come on shore and some never do. To-morrow I will tell you just a little about them, so thatyou will know something about all the animals of thisgreat country which is called North America. That is, Iwill if you want me to.""We do! Of course we do!" cried Peter Rabbit, and it isplain that he spoke for all.
XLTHE MAMMALS OF THE SEA
IT was the last day of Old Mother Nature's school inthe Green Forest, and when jolly, round, bright Mr. Sunhad climbed high enough in the blue, blue sky to peepdown through the trees, he found not one missing of the little people who had been learning so much aboutthemselves, their relatives, neighbors and all the otheranimals in every part of this great country. You see,not for anything in the world would one of themwillingly have missed that last lesson."I told you yesterday," began Old Mother Nature, "thatthe land is surrounded by water, salt water, sometimescalled the ocean and sometimes the sea. In this livethe largest animals in all the Great World and manyothers, some of which sometimes come on land, andothers which never do."One of those which come on land is first cousin toLittle Joe Otter and is named the Sea Otter. He lives inthe cold waters of the western ocean of the Far North.He much resembles Little Joe Otter, whom you allknow, but has finer, handsomer fur. In fact, sohandsome is his fur that he has been hunted for it untilnow. He is among the shyest and rarest of all animals,and has taken to living in the water practically all thetime, rarely visiting land. He lies on his back in thewater and gets his food from the bottom of the sea. Itis chiefly clams and other shellfish. He rests on floatingmasses of sea plants. He is very playful and delights totoss pieces of seaweed from paw to paw as he liesfloating on his back. Of course he is a wonderfulswimmer and diver. Otherwise he couldn't live in thesea.
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