Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/180

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

by the sudden infliction of severe pain. Among a large number, in nine weeks I never heard a voluntary hiss. This, however, is wholly negative evidence, and I am disposed to believe that an animal possesses a voice, if its habits, in their entirety, suggest that it has one. This perhaps unscientific method of reasoning arises, on my part, from the fact of having long suspected that certain fishes and salamanders had voices, before they were detected—my suspicions being based upon the habits, as a whole, of these creatures. Certain snakes, too, that are now thought only to hiss, will, I believe, be found to have a limited range of scarcely audible utterances: so with the pine-tree lizards. I certainly have no reason to believe they talk, but possibly they may whisper in each other's ears.

Upon several occasions I sat, unseen by them, for a long time, very near my pen of lizards, and listened attentively, hoping to catch some sound that was clearly a voluntary utterance of a lizard. I only determined that one's ears, under such circumstances, become highly supersensitive, and a great deal is heard at a time when, in fact, positive silence prevails. Generally, the lizards were perfectly quiet, but at times one would move, and then a general scuffling ensued; but how far the noises were attributable to their activity I can not say; probably entirely so. The faint, snake-like hiss, that has fairly to be squeezed out of them, is the range of their vocal utterances, so far as I yet know.

Concerning the breeding habits of this creature, I had no positive knowledge prior to my visit to the pine-barren regions of southern New Jersey. I had heard the statement made that the eggs were small, quite numerous, and deposited on the under side of prostrate logs, and even in loose wood-piles that were constantly disturbed, and that the eggs were not concealed or protected in any way. All this I knew to be false; but where were the eggs of the pine-tree lizard placed? Questioning observing residents of localities where the species abounded, I was invariably informed that the eggs were laid in sand, in pits dug by the lizards and carefully covered up. They were only discovered by accident, no trace of their presence being noticeable. Further, that after heavy showers the eggs were sometimes exposed, and in this way a check was put upon the increase of the animal's numbers. Of course, solar heat alone was relied upon to mature the eggs. Recently, Rev. Dr. Peters has informed me that the eggs "are said to be laid in bunches," but just what is meant by being "bunched" I am at a loss to understand. They certainly are not attached to each other by any agglutinating substance. At least, the female lizards in my pens laid only dry, free eggs, which they deposited in conical pits, one egg, the lowermost, be-