Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/51

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31
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound.

ever, it is fat, and very good eating. It makes a hole in the nest of a species of ant, which is a mound of earth four or five feet high, the inner parts consisting of cells constructed of a gummy substance mixed with earth, and is very hard; yet the munnāar burrows from the top nearly to the bottom, and there deposits its eggs, which are the size of a large pigeon’s egg, covered with a thick pellicle as tough as parchment. The eggs are about ten or twelve in number, and adhere together. The ants soon repair the hole made by the munnaar, and the warmth of the nest is sufficient to hatch the eggs. These eggs have an oily taste, and will not easily mix with either warm or cold water, but nevertheless they are very good eating.

The second species of lizard, called wandie, is of a very dark colour, and has a long round tail. It is generally found among rocks, and conceals itself under them; it also inhabits hollow trees or holes in the ground; and is a very lively animal, and quick in its motions.

The third species, or short-tailed youern, has a large head and an enormous mouth, which, when attacked, it immediately opens, and exhibits a purplish coloured tongue; its body is covered with large scales of a grey colour, but having transverse patches of brown. It is very sluggish, and does not burrow in holes, but conceals itself in long grass. They are frequently found in pairs. The female, when pregnant, has two large eggs in her, but I have never seen them when deposited. According to the natives she buries them in the ground very near the surface, and they are hatched by the warmth of the sun. These youerns are frequently found in ants’ nests, constructed of straw or leaves, with minute portions of sand. I do not, however, know if they lay their eggs there, or whether they feed upon the ants.

The snakes which are eaten by the natives are of several kinds, viz. the wackul, norne, docat, &c. The wackul is the common diamond snake of New South Wales, and is not venomous. The worne and docat are much alike, of very dark colour, six and seven feet in length, and their bite generally fatal. There is another species, of a smaller size, and sienna colour, of which although the bite is venomous it seldom occasions death. Other small species occur which are not eaten.

When the natives kill a snake, they are careful to beat its head to pieces before they take it up; they then examine if it has recently eaten, and if it has undigested food in its stomach, they reject it, for, if eaten, they say it would cause violent vomiting. At the spring-time of the year, they live principally upon the eggs and young of birds, chiefly of the parrot tribe, but also of hawks, ducks, swans, pigeons, &c. They are extremely expert at climbing trees, which they do by notching the bark with their