National Geographic : 1948 Sep
395 Seeking Mindanao's Strangest Creatures was a thrill I neverex pected as an amateur naturalist. Local grasshoppers and lizards played out quickly. Since each tarsier could consume about ten hoppersor five lizards a day, there seemed to be no solu tion to the food prob lem. I sent nativesout to get ant eggs,at which the animals promptly turned up their pug noses. Each day seemed longer and longer as I lookedin vain for the small boat to nose into the green waters of the bay. On a later trip tothe same area, after experi ments in Davao hadre vealed the fact that tarsiers could bein duced to eat raw meat, the matter of food sup ply in the field was considerably simplified. Crows and coucals (birds of the cuckoo family) abounded near our camp, and the warm breast meatwas eagerly acceptedas food. But on my firsttrip I was soon confronted by 100 hungry tarsiers and I had not learned of such easy escape from the food problem. In despair one day I hiked to a local creek and caught a handful ofCharles II.Wharton Monitor Lizards Eat Rats, Chickens, Even Stray Cats This black-and-yellow lizard-some aremuch larger-was noosed bythenative and lashed toapole. "Many ofthese powerful creatures escaped byforcing thewire front oftheir cages," says theauthor. "This became irritating, since Iwas forced topay twice forthecapture ofthesame lizard." Hebrought nine totheUnited States. small crabs. it occurred to me, resembled insects inagen eral way and mightfool thelittle animals. To my relief these small crustaceans were pounced on as eagerly as ajuicy grasshopper. The nightly noises made bymany small mouths cracking and chewing insects, now augmented by crabs whose shells crunched with a particularlyloud sound, disturbed my companion's sleep.But Igotgreat satisfac tion out of knowingthe animals had something to chew on and thereby might survive. Other animals and reptiles which thenatives brought in from time totime made myown sleep fitful. One night a12-foot reticulated python continually writhed and thumped about onthefloor atthefoot ofmycotinasack ofdubious strength, while atthehead ofmybed aflying lemur tried toclaw hisway outofaweak bamboo cage. Itwas aneasy matter toimagine that one ortheother was loose. Each new sound drew meupright. Most ofmytarsiers were caught bynatives. Sometimes awhole family ofManobos would troop inwith two orthree tarsiers they had surprised while clearing thefamily garden. Usually they tied thelittle fellows around thewaist inthemanner inwhich monkeys areoften tied, orthey carried them insome cleverly made container (page 390).