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Python Tigris, Var.

In his habits he partly resembles both the Eagle and the Vulture, but differs from them most completely in the nature of his prey and in his mode of attacking it. Like the former he always prefers live flesh to carrion; but the food to which he is most particularly attached consists of snakes and other reptiles, for the destruction of which he is admirably fitted by his organization. The length of his legs not only enables him to pursue these creatures over the sandy deserts which he inhabits with a speed proportioned to their own, but also places his more vulnerable parts in some measure above the risk of their venomous bite; and the imperfect character of his talons, when compared with those of other rapacious birds, is in complete accordance with the fact that his feet are destined rather to inflict powerful blows, than to seize and carry off his prey. When he falls upon a serpent, he first attacks it with the bony prominences of his wings, with one of which he belabours it, while he guards his body by the expansion of the other. He then seizes it by the tail and mounts with it to a considerable height in the air, from which he drops it to the[212] earth, and repeats this process until the reptile is either killed or wearied out; when he breaks open its skull by means of his beak, and tears it in pieces with the assistance of his claws, or, if not too large, swallows it entire.

for in this state of irritation, from whatever cause it may have arisen, he gives free scope to his natural ferocity, unrestrained by that control to which at other times he submits with meek and unresisting patience.

The male, on the contrary, although he has been more than twelve months an inmate of the Tower, is still as sullen and as savage as on the day of his arrival. Notwithstanding the kind treatment which has been lavished upon him by the keepers, he yet refuses to become familiarised with them, and receives all their overtures at a nearer acquaintance with such sulky and even angry symptoms as plainly evince that it would be dangerous to tamper with his unreclaimed and unmanageable disposition. He is, as is usual in all these animals, larger than the female, and much richer and more beautiful in the style of his marking and depth of his colouring. The two animals, however, although differing so greatly in temper, agree together tolerably well, excepting only at meal times, when their usual harmony is in some measure broken in upon by the jealousy with which they regard each others share of the repast.

Macacus Radiatus. Desm.