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when thus extended, they seem to be content with,—such as blades of grass, straws, fallen leaves, the ends of which they often draw into their holes; even in copulation, their hinder parts never quit their holes : so that no two, except they lie within reach of each other's bodies, can have any commerce of that kind; but, as every individual is an hermaphrodite, there is no difficulty in meeting with a mate as would be the case were they of different sexes. WHITE.
SNAILS AND SLUGS.—The shell-less snails called slugs are in motion all the winter, in mild weather, and commit great depredations on garden plants, and much injure the green wheat, the loss of which is imputed to earth-worms; while the shelled snail, the pepeolkos, does not come forth at all till about April 10th, and not only lays itself up pretty early in autumn, in places secure from frost, but also throws out round the mouth of its shell a thick operculum formed from its own saliva ; so that it is perfectly secured, and corked up, as it were, from all inclemencies. The cause why the slugs are able to endure the cold so much better than shell-snails is, that their bodies are covered with slime, as whales are with blubber.*
Snails copulate about midsummer; and soon after deposit their eggs in the mould, by running their heads and bodies under ground. Hence, the way to be rid of them is, to kill as many as possible before they begin to breed.
Large, gray, shell-less cellar snails lay themselves up about the same time with those that live abroad; hence, it is plain that a defect of warmth is not the only cause that influences their retreat.
SHAKSPEARE, Mids. Night's Dream. About the middle of this month (September) we found, in a field near a hedge, the slough of a large snake, which seemed to have been newly cast. From circumstances, it appeared as if turned wrong side outward, and as drawn off
* The slug is covered with a much thicker slime than the shelled snail.-ED.
backward, like a stocking, or woman's glove.* Not only the whole skin, but scales from the very eyes, are peeled off, and appear in the head of the slough like a pair of spectacles. The reptile, at the time of changing his coat, had entangled himself intricately in the grass and weeds, so that the friction of the stalks and blades might promote this curious shifting of his exuvie
“ Lubrica serpens
Exuit in spinis vestem.”—LUCRET.
Smooth serpents that in thickets leave their skin. It would be a most entertaining sight, could a person be an eyewitness to such a feat, and see the snake in the act of changing his garment. As the convexity of the scales of the eyes in the slough is now inward, that circumstance alone is a proof that the skin has been turned: not to mention that now the present inside is much darker than the outer. If you look through the scales of the snake's eyes from the concave side, viz. as the reptile used them, they lessen objects much. Thus it appears, from what has been said, that snakes crawl out of the mouth of their own sloughs, and quit the tail part last, just as eels are skinned by a cook-maid." While the scales of the eyes are growing loose, and a new skin is forming, the creature, in appearance, must be blind, and feel itself in an awkward, uneasy situation.
WHITE. I have seen many sloughs, or skins of snakes, entire, after they have cast them off; and once, in particular, I remember to have found one of these sloughs so intricately interwoven amongst some brakes, that it was with difficulty removed without being broken: this undoubtedly was done by the creature to assist in getting rid of its encumbrance.
I have great reason to suppose that the eft, or common lizard, also casts its skin, or slough, but not entire like the snake; for, on the 30th of March, 1777, I saw one with something ragged hanging to it, which appeared to be part of its old skin.
* “ The snake, renewid in all his speckled pride
Of pompous youth, has cast his slough aside ;
OBSERVATIONS ON VEGETABLES.
TREES, ORDER OF LOSING THEIR LEAVES.
ONE of the first trees that become naked is the walnut; the mulberry, the ash, especially if it bears many keys, and the horse-chestnut come next. All lopped trees, while their heads are young, carry their leaves a long while. Apple-trees and peaches remain green very late, often till the end of November : young beeches never cast their leaves till spring, till the new leaves sprout and push them off: in the autumn, the beechen leaves turn of a deep chestnut colour. Tall beeches cast their leaves about the end of October.
SIZE AND Growth.–Mr. Marsham, of Stratton, near Norwich, informs me by letter thus: “I became a planter early; so that an oak, which I planted in 1720, is become now, at one foot from the earth, 12 feet 6 inches in circumference, and at 14 feet (the half of the timber length), is 8 feet 2 inches. So, if the bark were to be measured as timber, the tree gives 116 feet, buyer's measure. Perhaps you never heard of a larger oak, while the planter was living. I flatter myself that I increased the growth by washing the stem, and digging a circle as far as I supposed the roots to extend, and by spreading sawdust, &c., as related in the Phil. Trans. I wish I had begun with beeches (my favourite trees, as well as yours); I might then have seen very large trees of my own raising. But I did not begin with beech till 1741, and then by seed; so that my largest is now 5 feet from the ground, 6 feet 3 inches in girth, and, with its head, spreads a circle of 20 yards diameter. This tree was also dug round, washed, &c. Stratton, 24th July, 1790.”