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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/348

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

new one promptly comes up beneath the hollow base of the old one; and in this way, all ready for the need, sometimes three or four waiting teeth, packed together like a nest of thimbles, may be seen in the jaw of a dead alligator.

The alligator is at best an awkward brute. Slow and ungainly upon land—although even there his powerful tail can, when necessary,

PSM V54 D348 Young pet alligator.jpg
Young Pet Alligator. From photograph by E. L. Russell, Palm Beach.

assist the scuffling paws to an astonishing extent if the creature is in haste—he shows to better advantage in the water. There he turns his clumsy body with wonderful dexterity and swiftness, when, at the sight of a swimming muskrat or a wading dog, he instantly changes from what has resembled a drifting log idly floating upon the calm surface of the swamp, into a thing of life—fierce and horrible.

The general food of an alligator is fish, turtles, and frogs, with an occasional heedless dog or fowl. A number of adult alligators will quickly deplenish a small, clear-water lake of its finny inhabitants, which statement to would-be Florida fishermen will readily account for the lack in many localities. There is also a curious belief in the