previous next


It is said, that the viper is the only one among the serpents that conceals itself in the earth; the others lurking either in the hollows of trees or in holes in the rocks.1 Provided they are not destroyed by cold, they can live there, without taking food, for a whole year.2 During the time that they are asleep in their retreat, none of them are venomous.

A similar state of torpor exists also in snails. These animals again become dormant during the summer, adhering very powerfully to stones; and even, when turned up and pulled away from the stones, they will not leave their shells. In the Balearic isles, the snails which are known as the cave-snail,3 do not leave their holes in the ground, nor do they feed upon any green thing, but adhere to each other like so many grapes. There is another less common species also, which is closed by an operculum that adheres to the shell.4 These animals always burrow under the earth, and were formerly never found, except in the environs of the Maritime Alps; they have, however, of late been dug up in the territory of Liternum;5 the most valued, however, of all, are those of the island of Astypalæa.6

1 This statement is contrary to the account given by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 15; he says, that while other serpents conceal themselves in holes in the earth, vipers conceal themselves under rocks.—B.

2 Cuvier remarks, Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 458, Lemaire, vol. iii. p. 473, that nothing is more striking, either to the vulgar or to the man of science, than the long abstinence from food which serpents are capable of enduring.—B.

3 Cavatica.

4 This is the case with the Helix Pomatia, and still more so with the Helix Neritoidea, which is very common in the neighbourhood of Nice, and which, at the approach of winter, is furnished with an operculum of great thickness.—B.

5 See B. iii. c. 9.

6 See B. iv. c. 23. The Romans valued them as a delicate food.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ASTYPALAEA
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: