Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/284

This page has been validated.
270
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

among the most powerful of their kind, in whose folds man is helpless, and bones of goats and cattle are broken with a crash which, it is said, may be heard many rods. We turn from these, whose fearful presence we associate with the splendors of tropical forests, to species harmless and often serviceable to man, yet everywhere persecuted by him. Among these we find the beautiful ring and grass snakes of our gardens; the milk and striped or garter snake; the common adder (so called), but entirely harmless; the active black snake or racer, found nearly everywhere in the United States. More dreaded because more dangerous than the gigantic species mentioned, are the venomous

Fig. 12.
PSM V04 D284 Cobra de capello.jpg
Cobra-de-Capello.

serpents, not powerful in strength or immense in size, but fierce in some cases, and in their attack deadly. The largest of these is said to be the bush-master, found in British Guiana, which, on the authority of Waterton, attains a length of fourteen feet. But the belted hamadryad of Burmah is often seen twelve to fourteen feet in length, and is a foot in circumference; and it is stated that specimens have been seen three fathoms (eighteen feet) long. If so, it is probably the largest known venomous serpent. This terrible creature feeds on other snakes, hence its scientific name, Ophiophagus elaps. Others, as the cobra and the rattlesnake, are relatively small, rarely attaining a length greater than six feet, usually not more than four feet.