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There are also numerous species of hares. Those in the Alps are white,1 and it is believed that, during the winter, they live upon snow for food; at all events, every year, as the snow melts, they acquire a reddish colour; it is, moreover, an animal which is capable of existing in the most severe climates. There is also a species of hare, in Spain, which is called the rabbit;2 it is extremely prolific, and produces famine in the Balearic islands, by destroying the harvests. The young ones, either when cut from out of the body of the mother, or taken from the breast, without having the entrails removed, are considered a most delicate food; they are then called laurices.3 It is a well-known fact, that the inhabitants of the Balearic islands begged of the late Emperor Augustus the aid of a number of soldiers, to prevent the too rapid increase of these animals. The ferret4 is greatly esteemed for its skill in catching them. It is thrown into the burrows, with their numerous outlets, which the rabbits form, and from which circumstance they derive their name,5 and as it drives them out, they are taken above. Archelaus informs us, that in the hare, the number of cavernous receptacles in the body for the excrements always equals that of its years;6 but still the numbers are sometimes found to differ. He says also, that the same individual possesses the characteristics of the two sexes, and that it becomes pregnant just as well without the aid of the male. It is a kind provision of Nature, in making animals which are both harmless and good for food, thus prolific. The hare, which is preyed upon by all other animals, is the only one, except the dasypus,7 which is capable of superfœtation;8 while the mother is suckling one of her young, she has another in the womb covered with hair, another without any covering at all, and another which is just beginning to be formed. Attempts have been made to form a kind of stuff of the hair of these animals; but it is not so soft as when attached to the skin, and, in consequence of the shortness of the hairs, soon falls to pieces.

1 Hardouin gives references to the authors who have observed this change in the colour of the hare, apparently depending upon the peculiar locality, and its consequent exposure to a low temperature. Cuvier considers it as characteristic of a peculiar species, the Lepus variabilis, "which being peculiar to the highest mountains, and the regions of the north, is white in winter."—B.

2 Or coney, "cuniculus." Hardouin makes some observations upon the derivation of this term, to show that Pliny was mistaken in supposing it to be of Spanish origin; we have also an observation of Cuvier's to the same effect.—B.

3 "Laurices;" we have no explanation of this word in any of the editions of Pliny. Its origin appears to be quite unknown.

4 According to Cuvier, the Mustela furo of Linæus. Ajasson, ubi supra.—B.

5 Because, as Varro says, De Re Rus. B. iii. c. 12, they are in the habit of making burrows—cuniculos—in the earth.

6 This reference to the opinion of Archelaus appears to be from Varro, ubi supra; the same reference is made by Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. ii. c. 2.—B.

7 Respecting the dasypus of Pliny, it has been doubted whether it be a distinct species, a variety of the hare, or merely a synonyme.—B.

8 It is by some contended, that the human female, and perhaps some other animals, have occasionally been the subjects of what is termed superfœtation; whereas, according to Pliny, in the hare and the dasypus it takes place frequently, but in no other animals.—B. On this subject, see B. vii. c. 9.

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