Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/703

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685
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LIZARDS.

I was regretting it, when M. Winssinger, an engineer of Brussels, put me in communication with one of his friends, M. H. Dineur, Director of the Mines of Fillols, near Prades. He sent me an ocellated lizard on the 1st of October, 1891. This lizard died by being inadvertently smothered, at the end of March in the next year. The autopsy disclosed that it was a female; it weighed only fifty-six grammes, while the Spanish lizard weighed more than one hundred and thirty grammes, and the one from the Tarn more than ninety grammes. The Spanish lizard was a male.

It possibly came to pass that the young female disturbed the harmony between the Spanish and the French lizards, for I observed that they no longer lived on a footing of complete intimacy. I observed at first only scoldings between them, but these were succeeded by bitings. In the beginning the quarrels were transient, but they became more and more frequent, and the acts of hostility were graver—the Spanish lizard, presuming on his strength, pursuing his rival, driving him out of corners, biting him, and at last rendering his existence so miserable that I was obliged to separate them. After the tragic death of the lizard of Prades, I hoped there would be a reconciliation, but there was none. The French lizard, indeed, made several attempts to establish peace, but the Spaniard sprang upon him furiously as soon as he perceived him and made him scamper his fastest.

M. Dineur sent me other consignments of lizards, six in all. One very small one escaped into the field; another died a little while after its arrival. It was a very fine animal, but it had sharply bitten a workman who picked it up, and the stupid and cruel brute took his revenge upon it by making it bite a bar of red-hot iron. Its mouth was all a sore when I received it, and it survived its horrible burning only a few days.

Among the four new lizards that were left me was one formidable one, which, although it lost most of its tail when it was captured, still weighed nearly two hundred grammes. They very soon became familiar, except one, which, while it would eat from the hand, persisted in running away if one tried to pick it up, and bite when it was captured. The Spanish lizard received them hospitably, but if I put the French animal among them he would immediately recognize him and chase him.

But after some weeks of peaceful living together, the Spanish lizard began to tyrannize over his new companions too, the largest at first and then the smaller ones. He is a decided teaser and a bad bedfellow. Nothing can be more curious then the tactics he employs to cut off their retreat. He turns himself crosswise, in such a way as to bar their passage. Then, when he has driven them into a corner, he lifts up his paws, swells out his neck, puts down his head, darts his great open mouth at them.