Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/153

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SOME ARACHNIDS AT HANOVER, CAPE COLONY.

creature, swaying to and fro with flattened head, ready to fight. It looked like the gay stalk of some beautiful aloe; and its beauty and pluck so appealed to me that I captured it only with great reluctance. Of course, the kopjes and the flats abound with various lizards, some of the most gaudy colors. For instance, there is one with spiked coat and rough, ringed tail, which has a red head, blue throat, neck and sides, while the back varies from red to brown towards the tail. It sits on a rock and quaintly raises itself up and down on its forelegs. If danger approaches, it slips into a crevice, from whence it can hardly be taken alive, for the spikes catch on the stone so firmly that the lizard is able to resist almost all attempts to take it out. But most interesting, perhaps, are the Geckos (Pachydactylus mariquensis), which the Dutch call getjes, also generally found under stones. They are about six inches long and not so quick in their movements as lizards usually are. This and their defencelessness have induced a peculiar method of protection. Their fleshy tails are quite loosely affixed, being deeply constricted all round where they join the body. A slight touch will break them off—so much so that at times the getje seems almost to throw them off. Then is seen a strange thing. The tail jumps about in the most lively manner, and thus attracts the attention of the pursuer, while the getje quietly and unobtrusively moves away unobserved—and goes and grows another tail! This is a peculiar and yet very effective method of protection; there are other local lizards that part with their tails with comparative ease, but they are quicker in their movements and their tails are not nearly so lively; the method has reached perfection in the case of the getje only. I am generally accompanied in my walks by my wife's little fox terrier. She seldom catches a getje. When she jumps at one, off flies the tail, which she invariably seizes as it plunges frantically about, and the getje escapes. The getjes are of various colors, some very handsome. Some kinds burrow holes in the sand, and these occasionally take possession of deserted nests of the large trap-door spiders. (I say deserted; they may, however, kill the spiders; but I do not think they do.) They somewhat narrow the opening of the tube just under the lid, to about the size of their body, but they leave the lid intact and keep it in use, opening and shutting it (or allowing it to shut itself) at will. On lifting a lid on one occasion, I found the getje in the hole, peering out from under the slightly-gaping lid, with its head just level with the surface of the ground—a very odd sight. I dug down, and at the bottom of the hole found its egg, which it was evidently guarding. On another occasion I found two at the bottom of a large closed trap-door nest. The lid of a nest, when occupied by the getje, does not close so perfectly as when occupied by the spider, due perhaps to the narrowing of the opening. Though