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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/629

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MY PET SCORPION.

on the outer edges of the cephalo-thorax, are placed the remaining six eyes, three on a side, in a triangular group. These eyes are not quite as large as those in front, but they are of a shining yellow color, and altogether give the face of the whip scorpion a decidedly uncanny look.

But to return to the history of my pet. As Madam Thelyphonus had obviously been accustomed to rather primitive furniture, I did not overburden her new apartments. A thickly sanded floor, a salt dish filled with fresh water, a square of pine bark the size of my hand, slightly elevated, with a few nice pieces of green moss to remind her of the country home she had left, and my involuntary guest was ready for housekeeping. She accepted her new quarters without question or examination, and promptly retired to her bedroom under the bark.

But housekeeping, even for a whip scorpion, involves the food question. Here I was upon uncertain ground. The strictly nocturnal habits of the Thelyphonus render all such investigations difficult. Naturally, the authorities on this point are somewhat indefinite or conflicting. The first things which I placed in the cage were a number of roaches of assorted sizes. One investigator claims that they are readily eaten by the Thelyphonus. Twenty-four hours passed and not a roach was missing.

The matter, however, in which I felt a more immediate interest was the supposed venomous character of my new pet. My experiments were, therefore, especially directed to the settlement of this question. The next night a large, full-grown toad, that for some time had made his home in my back yard, was placed in the cage. The roaches were still there, and right here a very interesting thing happened. The largest cockroach, nearly two inches in length, was upon the side of the cage. The toad had hardly got comfortably seated immediately in front of him when the cockroach suddenly disappeared. I could not say that I saw him disappear. I was looking directly at both, but the "dissolving view" was too rapid for the eye to follow. To say that it was "quick as a flash" would depend somewhat on what kind of a "flash" was meant. I think nitroglycerin would undoubtedly have kept up with my bufo; but, judging from what I saw, or rather didn't see, I should say that this toad could have swallowed about six cockroaches while gunpowder was getting ready to go off! Any one who wishes to get an entirely new view of the meaning of the phrase "with neatness and dispatch" should by all means try this "lightning combination" of cockroaches and a Florida toad!

And now I was all ready for the coming "battle royal" that I had reason to suppose would take place between my little captives.