Aristotle, History of Animals, Book VI, Chap. 37. Tr. Wentworth.


The phenomena of generation in regard to the mouse are the most astonishing both for the number of the young and for the rapidity of recurrence in the births. On one occasion a she-mouse in a state of pregnancy was shut up by accident in a jar containing millet-seed, and after a little while the lid of the jar was removed and upwards of one hundred and twenty mice were found inside it.

The rate of propagation of field mice in country places, and the destruction that they cause, are beyond all telling. In many places their number is so incalculable that but very little of the corn-crop is left to the farmer; and so rapid is their mode of proceeding that sometimes a small farmer will one day observe that it is time for reaping, and on the following morning, when he takes his reapers afield, he finds his entire crop devoured. Their disappearance is unaccountable: in a few days not a mouse will there be to be seen. And yet in the time before these few days men fail to keep down their numbers by fumigating and unearthing them, or by regularly hunting them and turning in swine upon them; for pigs, by the way, turn up the mouse-holes by rooting with their snouts. Foxes also hunt them, and the wild ferrets in particular destroy them, but they make no way against the prolific qualities of the animal and the rapidity of its breeding. When they are super-abundant, nothing succeeds in thinning them down except the rain; but after heavy rains they disappear rapidly.

In a certain district of Persia when a female mouse is dissected the female embryos appear to be pregnant. Some people assert, and positively assert, that a female mouse by licking salt can become pregnant without the intervention of the male.

Mice in Egypt are covered with bristles like the hedgehog. There is also a different breed of mice that walk on their two hind-legs; their front legs are small and their hind-legs long; the breed is exceedingly numerous. There are many other breeds of mice than are here referred to.

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