Ferret

Ferret

evidently a conjectural rendering for anakah' (אֲנָקָה a sighing; Sept. μυγαλή, Vulg. mygale), one of the unclean creeping things mentioned in. Le 11:30. The Rabbinical writers seem to have identified this animal with the' hedgehog (see Lewysohn, Zool. des Talmuds, § 129, 134). The Sept. and Vulg. refer to an animal which, according to Aristotle (Hist. Anim. 8:24), is the Mus araneus, or shrew-mouse; but the associated names render it more probable that the animal referred to in Leviticus was a reptile of the lizard tribe (so Bochart and Gesenius), deriving its name from the mournful cry, or wail, which some lizards utter, especially those of the Gecko family. The Lacerta gecko (otherwise called "fan-foot" lizard; Gecko lobulatus, the Ptyodactylus of Hasselquist) is perhaps the animal intended. "The geckos are small lizards, usually somewhat clumsy in form, stealthy and cat-like in their actions, secreting themselves in holes and crevices by day, and at night coming forth to prey upon nocturnal insects. The form of the eve indicates their season of activity, for the pupil, which is capable of great expansion and contraction, closes to a vertical line. The animals crawl with ease and confidence on perpendicular walls, and even on the under sides of ceilings, beams, and-the like, provided these have a somewhat roughened surface. This curious power, the rapidity with which they disappear in some crevice when alarmed, and their sombre and lurid hues, their association with night, their land and harsh, croak, their slow and stealthy pace, and especially a certain sinister expression of countenance, produced by the large globular eye, unprotected by as eyelid and divided by its linear pupil, have combined to give to these reptiles in all countries a popular reputation for malignity and venom, and they are generally much dreaded. This reputation, however, appears to be wholly groundless'; and the story told by Hasselquist of a man who would lay hold of the reptile, and whose hand instantly became covered with red pustules, inflamed and itching, must be received with suspicion. Still more incredible is another account by the same naturalist, to the effect that he saw at Cairo two women and a girl at the point of death from having eaten some cheese over which a gecko had crawled! The most interesting point in the economy of these curious lizards is the structure of their feet, by which they are enabled to defy the laws of gravity. The feet are nearly equal, short, stout, and terminated by five toes, differing- little in length, which radiate as if from a centre, so as to form two thirds of a circle. The under surface of the toes is, in most of the genera, much widened, and furnished with small plates or laminae, overlapping each other in a regular manner, which varies in different genera and species. The toes are frequently united by a membrane at their base. The claws are pointed, hooked, and kept constantly sharp, by an apparatus by which they are capable of retraction, like those of the cat. It is by means of the singular lamellated structure of the under surface of the toes that these reptiles, or at least many of them, are enabled to cling to vertical or even inverted surfaces, as house-flies do. The mode in which this is effected we do not thoroughly understand; but we may conjecture that it is by the raising, of these imbricated plates by muscular action, so as to form a vacuum beneath the sole, when the pressure of the external air causes the toe to adhere firmly to the surface. The similarity of the structure to that of the coronal sucker in the remora suggests this explanation. A familiar illustration of the principle is seen in the leathern suckers which children make, which adhere so firmly that large stones are lifted lay them." SEE LIZARD.

Bible concordance for FERRET.

Definition of ferret

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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