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

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

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376
THE COW AND THE CROCODILE
Crocodiles are found in nearly every large river all over the tropics; they are of immense length, sometimes reaching as much as twenty feet and upwards, and are covered with a thick, scaly hide which renders them almost invulnerable. Not only is their throat very large, but it is capable of expansion, so that a crocodile can with ease swallow a small person or animal whole, though, in the case of a larger victim, its snapping jaws and immense teeth can bite through a human bone, or any equally hard obstacle, as clean and sharp as though it had been cut with a knife. These huge teeth are sixty-eight in number, thirty-four in each jaw. They are very long and sharp, and those of the upper and lower jaws interlock, so that woe betide any person seized upon by them ; there is no possibility of escape, or, if by good fortune he be rescued, he will certainly leave a limb behind him in the jaws of the devourer.
It is a mistake to suppose, as many persons do, that the crocodile immediately consumes its victim ; in the case of email animals, such as dogs and fawns, this may be so. Large animals, however, when seized, are dragged beneath the surface of the water, held there till drowned, then borne off to some favourite hiding-place, there to be eaten at leisure. The fore-feet of the crocodile are shaped much like a short human hand, armed in place of fingers with five long horny claws, which hold the prey whilst tearing it with the teeth.
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