Leafing Through Brehm

State Darwin Museum

Brehm's Life of animals. 1893

The exhibition is dedicated to the German scientist Alfred Brehms' (1829 - 1884) famous work 'Brehms Tierleben [Brehms' Life of Animals]. The volume published between 1863 and 1869 is far from a tedious encyclopedia on zoology, but a fascinating journey around our planet. In the company of this famed zoologist you will explore the world of birds, mammals and enjoy the author’s descriptions of animals. Exotic animals of Africa, North and South America, Australia won’t leave you indifferent. Charming animals that can be both kind and cunning became the heroes of this captivating book. Perhaps these wonderful illustrations and emotional, poetic, touching commentaries of the author will present you a part of that great Brehm’s love for our “younger brothers”.

Meles meles, or Badger

The Badger is the most harmless of all European larger beasts of prey. It is really a sulky fellow, avoiding the society of Man or beast, and as lazy withal as it is possible to be. These qualities are not adapted to gain it many friends, but I must confess that I personally am fond of it; its mode of life and its actions amuse me. The site selected by the hermit is usually a quiet, solitary spot. Scrupulous cleanliness is observed throughout. The animal is fond of a comfortable, contemplative mode of life, and likes to retain its independence to the most complete degree.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

All Bald Eagles are really sea birds: they fly away from the water only for once in a way. Much like the Golden Eagles, they hunt for any kind of game that they can vanquish and like to fish using their unfledged feet, which are particularly practical to this effect. Bald Eagle’s nest is enormous, ranging up to 6.6 feet in diameter and more than 3.3 feet in height. It rests on the basement made of branches as thick as a human arm.

Sorex araneus

From our point of view we must acknowledge them to be highly useful creatures, which render us considerable service by exterminating harmful insects. They seek their food exclusively in the animal world, their voracity is remarkable, and what they devour daily is equal to their own entire weight.

Botaurus stellaris

The Eurasian Bittern’s skill of taking the most striking poses outshines all its relatives. While standing still, this bird pulls its neck in, resting its head on the back; showing anger, it fans the feathers on its neck, opens its beak and prepares to attack; and to fool someone, it sits down on the ground while lengthening its body, neck and beak up—this way Eaurasian Bittern resembles a bundle of dry reed.

Otolemur crassicaudatus

Galagos' sense of hearing is most acute, as might be concluded from their large, membranous ears that resemble those of some bats. Falling asleep galagos furle up their ears completely. However, they react to the slightest noise unfurling the entire ear starting from the top and stretching it until it is nicely smooth.

Hystrix cristata

If a Porcupine be taken by surprise outside of its burrow, it threateningly rears its head and neck, erects all the spines on its body and rattles them together in a peculiar way, especially those of the tail with which it produces a peculiar rattling sound, quite adapted to frighten an ignorant or timid person. When highly excited it stamps on the ground with its hind feet, and if it be seized it utters a hollow grunt, similar to that of a Pig. Notwithstanding its belligerent demonstrations the animal is perfectly inoffensive, easily frightened, retreating upon the approach of a person and hardly ever making defensive use of its sharp teeth.

Erinaceus europaeus

The Hedgehog is a queer fellow, but a good-natured, timid one withal. It is so open-hearted and innocent that it can’t presume how nefarious a Man can be, who instead of showing his appreciation towards the hedgehog for all its merits, denounces it, chases, and often kills it just out of childlike passion for cruelty.

Procyon lotor

He is cheerful, lively, inquisitive, mischievous and prone to play merry tricks, but is also courageous, and, when necessity demands it, cunning as a Fox in catching his prey. He possesses the peculiarity of dipping his food into the water and then rubbing it between his forepaws, as if to wash it. He does this only when he is not very hungry, however; for, when hunger presses, the demands of his stomach probably leave him no time for the much liked, playful occupation, which has caused the Germans to name him, “Wash-Bear”.

Chlorocebus aethiops

Africa is a home not only to the biggest, sliest and ugliest apes, but also to the prettiest and sweetest ones, among which undoubtedly are the Green Monkeys. They live a very eventful life: they shriek, fight, embrace truces, climb the trees, run around, plunder, and steal! The Green Monkeys form a unique community and do not recognize any authority except for the power of the strongest one of their kind. The only power they acknowledge is the one of their oldest relative with the strongest arms and the sharpest teeth.

Martes martes

The Pine Marten is hunted in all possible ways, not so much with a view to checking its murderous career, as for the sake of its fur. It is easily caught in traps, which are prepared in a very ingenious way. The bait is usually a piece of bread, fried with a small piece of onion and a little honey in unsalted butter and strewn with camphor.

Ochotona alpine

Inquisitiveness and fear are about equally blended in the composition of Pikas’ character. These animals are active, peaceable and very diligent Rodents that gather great supplies of hay, which may have a height of six or seven inches and a diameter of from six to twelve inches. During the snowy season of winter they drive tunnels under the snow to their haystacks; each of these tunnels has an opening for purposes of ventilation.

Lagostomus maximus

The Viscacha is a native of the pampas in South America. While grazing they play with one another nearly all the time, running, jumping over each other, grunting, showing their teeth, etc. They carry home the most heterogeneous collection of objects they may find and pile them up in front of their holes in a confused heap. And when the Gauchos mysteriously lose anything they go to the nearest Viscacherias to look for the missing article.

Gulo gulo

The Glutton, or Wolverine, is one of the clumsiest members of the Marten or Weasel family. It rolls itself along with large bounds, limping and turning somersaults. Yet, despite its peculiarities of gait, its walk is not slow, and while its prey is sinking in the snow, the Glutton is easily moving forward. Although a small animal the Glutton is an antagonist not to be despised, for it is strong, fierce, and has a capacity for resistance out of proportion to its size. It is believed that even Wolves and Bears avoid meeting the Glutton.

Mephitis mephitis

When one reads what abominably fetid odors they are capable of spreading, he can understand what a genuine scent gland means! No chemical laboratory, no heap of refuse, no foul carcass, in short, no stench on earth is said to be as fetid and unbearable as that which the graceful animals of the genus Mephitis give forth.It is not yet clear if skunks use their secretion on each other; however, it would be interesting to find out. Many observations show that animals are not disgusted with their own smell and, in fact, find it attractive. Yet we can assume that a female might drive away an intrusive male by ejecting her noxious fluid.

Cricetus cricetus

The Common Hamster is rather good looking in appearance, but its temper is ugly, sulky and irritable; it is also very pugnacious. At the slightest provocation it assumes a defiant attitude, utters a deep, hollow growl, grinds its teeth and opens and shuts them with exceeding rapidity and violence. It happens not infrequently that a person in quietly passing by a Hamster’s burrow suddenly has the ferocious animal hanging from his clothes by its teeth. It also flies at Horses, and if a bird of prey lifts it from the ground it continues to defend itself in the air.

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