Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 712 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

Treron Pompadoura.  The Pompadour pigeon.  “The Prince of Canino has shown that this is a totally distinct bird, much smaller, with the quantity of maroon colour on the mantle greatly reduced.”—­Paper by Mr. BLYTH, Mag.  Nat Hist. p. 514:  1857.

Carpophaga Torringtoniae.  Lady Torrington’s pigeon; a very handsome pigeon discovered in the highlands by Dr. Kelaart.  It flies high in long sweeps, and makes its nest on the loftiest trees.

Carpophaga pusilla.  The little-hill dove, a migratory species found by Mr. Layard in the mountain zone, only appearing with the ripened fruit of the teak, banyan, &c., on which they feed.

Gallus Lafayetti.  The Ceylon jungle fowl.  The female of this handsome bird was figured by Mr. GRAY (Ill.  Ind.  Zool.) under the name of G. Stanleyi.  The cock bird had long been lost to naturalists, until a specimen was forwarded to Mr. Blyth, who at once recognised it as the long-looked for male of Mr. Gray’s recently described female.  It is abundant in all the uncultivated portions of Ceylon; coming out into the open spaces to feed in the mornings and evenings.

CHAP.  III.

REPTILES.

LIZARDS. Iguana.—­One of the earliest if not the first remarkable animal to startle a stranger on arriving in Ceylon, whilst wending his way from Point-de-Galle to Colombo, is a huge lizard of from four to five feet in length, the Talla-goya of the Singhalese, and Iguana[1] of the Europeans.  It may be seen at noonday searching for ants and insects in the middle of the highway and along the fences; when disturbed, but by no means alarmed, by the approach of man, it moves off to a safe distance; and, the intrusion being over, returns again to the occupation in which it had been interrupted.  Repulsive as it is in appearance, it is perfectly harmless, and is hunted down by dogs in the maritime provinces, where its delicate flesh is converted into curry, and its skin into shoes.  When seized, it has the power of inflicting a smart blow with its tail.  The Talla-goya lives in almost any convenient hollow, such as a hole in the ground, or the deserted nest of the termites; and home small ones which frequented my garden at Colombo, made their retreat in the heart of a decayed tree.  A still larger species, the Kabragoya[2], which is partial to marshy ground, when disturbed upon land, will take refuge in the nearest water.  From the somewhat eruptive appearance of the yellow blotches on its scales, a closely allied species, similarly spotted, formerly obtained amongst naturalists the name of Monitor exanthemata, and it is curious that the native appellation of this one, Kabra[3], is suggestive of the same idea.  The Singhalese, on a strictly homoeopathic principle, believe that its fat, externally applied, is a cure for cutaneous disorders, but that inwardly taken it is poisonous.[4] It is one of the incidents which seem to indicate that Ceylon belongs to a separate circle of physical geography, this lizard has not hitherto been discovered on the continent of Hindustan, though it is found to the eastward in Burmah.[5]

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Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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