The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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No one can have read Captain Mayne Reid's stories about America without being struck by the part played in them by an animal called the ' painter,' which is of a tawny colour, with a black stripe down its back. Now the ' painter' is really the panther, and the panther is the creature that we call the puma, which, next to the jaguar, is the biggest of all the American cats, and has a wider range than any other mammal. The puma is to be met with in British Columbia, or in the Adiron­dack mountains not far from New York State ; it is to be seen in the hot unhealthy swamps that lie along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico ; it lies in wait for its prey in the river forests of the Amazon and the Orinoco ; it tracks the wild and cunning huanaco ten thousand feet high on the Andes, and it is the dreaded enemy of colts and sheep on the cattle runs of the Argentine Republic. With wonderful skill it makes the best of circumstances; if horses, its favourite food, are not to be had, it puts up with ostriches ; if it happens to live in Mexico, or Arizona, it makes its dinner off wild turkeys ; further north still, the puma will be content with porcupines or even snails, while if its chosen haunts along the river banks of the Amazon or the Orinoco are overwhelmed by a sudden inundation, it takes to the trees and feasts upon monkeys.
As sometimes occurs in families, the puma has a particular hatred for its cousin the jaguar, and seldom
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