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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/350

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

for hibernation, and at other times for the purpose that will be explained.

Once in the water, then—to return to the unhappy razorback—the alligator does not rely wholly upon his teeth and jaws to hold the desperate animal. He can not yet sink, for the victim is too strong'. It must first be drowned, and a furious struggle for the mastery then begins.

By degrees the brute finally succeeds in dragging the animal out into water sufficiently deep to suit his purpose, and then he clasps it firmly with his paws, precisely like the hugging of a bear. He then begins to roll over and over. Now beneath the surface, now out, he turns and turns, first the alligator uppermost, then his prey, alternately, until the poor animal is drowned literally by inches. Before long the razorback weakens, his struggles lessen, and then the alligator sinks to the bottom, and when all motion has ceased he deposits the body in his cave, well pleased with the prospect of a full larder for some time to come.

One might naturally ask just here whether or not this scene would be the same were a human being the victim. The reply would be—precisely.

The alligator undoubtedly prefers his food in a partly decomposed condition, although it is an undecided point whether this preference arises from a natural taste, or for the reason that food in that state is softer and more easily torn apart. Whichever may be the case, Nature unasked supplies the remedy, and the alligator takes advantage of her assistance, and deposits his victim in his hiding place, confident that at the proper time it will rise to the surface in the condition best adapted to his needs.

Although by nature the alligator is amphibious, he passes the greater part of his time upon land during the breeding season. At such times, also, he migrates from one clear-water lake or swamp to another, should he not find a mate in his own locality, and he may not infrequently be met in his overland journeyings. Alligators are not strictly gregarious, although large numbers are found in the same body of water; while, on the contrary, there will often be but one or two that will haunt a certain tract for a long period.

During this season the bull alligator is very noisy, and his deep bellowing may be heard for a long distance. To state that this noise causes the ground to vibrate may seem an exaggeration, but the fact may easily be proved by visiting a swamp where the reptiles have congregated. The water in the vicinity will plainly show the jarring of the ground.

This bellow is a thundering, rumbling sound; and when it is combined with the startling hisses, blowings, sighs, and deep-breathed