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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 228

had swallowed the skinned bodies of four mice he had prepared as specimens; which shows that rattlesnakes do not always feed only on living prey. Another rattlesnake which he killed in Central America had just swallowed an opossum which proved to be of a species new to science. Miller told how once on the Orinoco he saw on the bank a small anaconda, some ten feet long, killing one of the iguanas, big, active, truculent, carnivorous lizards, equally at home on the land and in the water. Evidently the iguanas were digging out holes in the bank in which to lay their eggs; for there were several such holes, and iguanas working at them. The snake had crushed its prey to a pulp; and not more than a couple of feet away another iguana was still busily, and with entire unconcern, engaged in making its burrow. At Miller’s approach the anaconda left the dead iguana and rushed into the water, and the live iguana promptly followed it. Miller also told of the stone gods and altars and temples he had seen in the great Colombian forests, monuments of strange civilizations which flourished and died out ages ago, and of which all memory has vanished. He and Cherrie told of giant rivers and waterfalls, and of forests never penetrated, and mountains never ascended by civilized man; and of bloody revolutions that devastated the settled regions. Listening to them I felt that they could write “Tales of Two Naturalists” that would be worth reading.
  They were short of literature, by the way—a party such as ours always needs books—and as Kermit’s reading-matter consisted chiefly of Camoens and other Portuguese, or else Brazilian, writers, I strove to supply the deficiency with spare volumes of Gibbon. At the end of