Mexican Border Ballads and Other Lore Page: 61
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MEXICAN BORDER BALLADS
burgh, after reviewing popular beliefs and reptilian physi-
ology, concludes, "I should require very convincing evidence
of the fact before I could believe such a thing as a snake
refuging her young in her throat ever happened."12
So much has been published on the subject3 that the present
treatise may well seem redundant. I have brought together
a cloud of Texas witnesses. If some of them did not speak
so unfalteringly about the "hissing" and "'whistling" of
rattlesnakes, I should be perhaps more than almost persuaded.
I have never heard a rattlesnake make any kind of noise
except with the rattles. I have heard men who had spent
their lives in a panther country assert that, because they had
never heard its scream, that animal does not scream; yet
panthers do scream sometimes. Ditmars says that the Dia-
mond-Back Rattlesnake has "from eight to twelve young in
a litter." A recently published treatise based on scientific
observations of thousands of Texas snakes, both in their
native habitat and in the Reptile Garden connected with the
Witte Museum at San Antonio, says of the Western Diamond-
Back Rattlesnake and the Texas Diamond-Back Rattlesnake:
"A litter often numbers as high as thirty-five or forty. Av-
erage, eleven to fifteen.""
The dispositions of snakes, like the dispositions of men,
horses and other animals, certainly vary, the variations be-
coming more marked in the higher order of species. Handlers
of thousands of rattlers in the San Antonio Reptile Garden
found that about one rattler in a hundred is mild and docile,
a "pet"'" Although every rattlesnake is born provided with
fangs and potent poison sacs, ready to kill its prey, altogether
dependent upon itself for food and entirely capable of scurry-
ing to cover, thus making parental protection redundant,
Ditmars saw one mother rattler-the large one from Florida
already cited-manifest the protective instinct. Reversing the
exceptional conduct, now and then a nanny goat refuses to
claim her new-born kids. Variations in conduct, however, are
not variations in biological processes. If a new-born opossum
does not get into its mother's pouch, it perishes. No variation is
possible. Biological processes cannot vary in a species, no
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Boatright, Mody C. Mexican Border Ballads and Other Lore, book, 1946; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67652/m1/69/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.