ICHNEUMON

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ICHNEUMON (herpestes, Illig.). These a round ball. Their voice is very soft, animals belong to the civet family, and somewhat like a murmur, and, unless they are distinguished from their kindred gene be struck or irritated, they never exert it.ra by their narrower and more pointed Their great disadvantage, as domestic an muzzle, by the shape of their lower lip, imals, is their unconquerable predilection and, more especially, by the absence of the for poultry, which they destroy whenever double cavity beneath the tail, which is they have an opportunity, for the purpose replaced by a single pouch, of considera of sucking their blood. In a wild state, ble size, but destitute of secreting glands, they swim and dive in the manner of an Their hair is long, brittle, and generally otter, continuing beneath the water for a variegated in color. The ordinary color great length of time, and support themof its coat is chestnut brown and fawn; selves by fishing. These animals are nose and paws, deep chestnut, or black, shortlived, but grow very rapidly.It is about 18 inches from the snout to the Ichneumon is also the name of a large root of the tail. The habits of theichneu genus of insects, belongmg to the great mon are very similar to those of the ferret. Order of hymenoptera. As the species ofIn the countries where they are found, this genus are very numerous, so their their sanguinary disposition and predatory manners are extremely diversified; but, in habits render them a great annoyance to the general outlines of their character, the inhabitants, from the destruction they they all agree, particularly in their depre cause among poultry. This is, how dations among the insect tribes. In some, ever, compensated, in some degree, by the the female has a wimble attached to her ab incessant war they wage against reptiles, domen, and with this instrument, delicate the eggs of which they devour with great as it appears, she is capable of perforating avidity. The most celebrated species in the hardest substances. The larvse of wasps habits Egypt and the adjacent countries, are the devoted prey of these insects, who where it is called Pharaoh's rat. It is very no sooner discover one of their nests, than common in the northern parts of Egypt, they perforate the clay of which it is ccn between the Mediterranean and Siout. It structed, and deposit their eggs within it.is of a gray color, and has a long tail, ter Others glue their ova to the skin of a cat minated by a black tuft; it is larger than a erpillar, whilst others, again, penetrate cat, but formed like the weasel. This through it, and lay their eggs in its body, species was ranked by the ancient Egyp In all these cases, the young, as soon as tians amongst their numerous divinities, they are hatched, prey on the caterpillaron account, it is supposed, of the benefits or larva, without, however, destroying it which it confers on man by the destruc at once, as upon the life of its victim that tion of crocodiles, whose eggs it digs out of the spoiler appears to depend. Theof the sand and sucks. The story of caterpillar, in fact, seems healthv, until tht> its overcoming these formidable reptiles larva? of the ichneumon have &pun their cocoons and entered the chrysalis state. We often see caterpillars fixed to a leaf or branch by the threads spun by the ichneumon, These carnivorous insects are of various sizes; some are so small that the aphis, or plantlouse, serves as a cradle for their young; others again, from their size and strength, are formidable even to the spider, destroying them with their powerful stings.