THE CLOUDED BLACK WOLF.
One of the most striking points on which this distinction is founded consists in the form of the head, which, instead of being flattened, as in the more northern species of the group, is nearly hemispherical above, the forehead rising in a strong arch immediately behind the nose, which is obtuse and very gradually attenuated. The gape of the mouth is considerable; and the tongue, which is long, narrow, and very extensile, is capable of being protruded for nearly a foot, and then curved inwards in a spiral manner, a habit in which the animal appears frequently to indulge. In the teeth the difference between this subdivision of the genus and the rest of the animals which compose it is unessential, the incisors and canines having no distinguishing characters, and the molars being apparently subject to the same variations as in the genuine bears.
These animals are by nature sociable, and congregate together in herds, which frequently amount to more than a hundred. The imposing spectacle furnished by such a collection of these immense masses of animated matter may well be imagined. They generally seek the shade of the forest, in which they find additional means of subsistence in the young shoots of the trees, which supply the place of other and more congenial herbs. They frequently issue from it, however, in quest of the latter, and also to indulge in a propensity possessed by them in common with all those animals which like them are furnished with thick and almost naked, or with bristly, skins, that of bathing in the water or wallowing in the mud. It is for this reason that they are usually met with in the neighbourhood of large streams, which their great size and the quantity of fat with which they are commonly loaded enable them to swim with facility. Their trunk is also extremely serviceable in this operation, as it enables them to bury as it were the whole of their body beneath the water, retaining above the surface no more than the extremity of that organ for the admission and expulsion of the air. After having been for some time in the water, it is said that their skin loses the dusky hue by which it is usually distinguished in consequence of the dirt and other matters with which it is incrusted, and assumes a perfect flesh-colour marked with numerous round and blackish spots. This natural colour is, however, lost almost immediately on their reaching the land, when they uniformly scatter themselves all over by means of their trunk with the mud or dust which first falls in their way. So fond are they of this process that they commonly recur to it whenever an opportunity offers. The bathing appears to be absolutely necessary in order to keep their skins to a certain extent supple and flexible; for which purpose their keepers, in captivity, occasionally have recourse to the smearing them with oil as a substitute.
The Coatis are barely equal in size to the common fox: they inhabit the woods of South America, and live upon fruits, insects, and reptiles, climbing trees in pursuit of their prey with great agility. In captivity they are easily tamed, and are fond of being caressed; but exhibit no peculiar symptoms of attachment.下载