THE second division of carnivorous mammals are known as Fissipeds, or split-footed animals. They are all terrestrial, the feet being adapted for walking on land, rarely webbed for swimming, and with well-developed claws. First of all come the bears, with which are included the raccoons and weasels. Bears are not truly carnivorous; they will eat meat when
obtainable, but vegetables form the greater part of their food. Consequently their teeth do not conform so strictly to the carnivorous pattern. Their claws are formed for digging, being large, strong and curved.
Bears are widely distributed throughout the world and are found everywhere except in Australia. Africa has few bears, the only well-known species being one found in the Atlas Mountains. The largest species of all is from the Kadiak Islands, Alaska, but the grizzly bear undoubtedly reaches great size. The variation in the colour of the skin makes it very difficult at times to assign any given bear to its correct species. The Polar bear is a very distinct and familiar species. It is exclusively Arctic in habitat and a splendid swimmer; it feeds entirely on fish, seal and walrus. Its great size, quick movements and snake-like head make it very distinctive. It is quite unlike any other bear.
The raccoons are small American animals, closely related to the bears. They are attractive animals, with bright eyes, banded muzzles and long tails. They have a curious habit of always washing anything before they eat it. They are easily tamed, and their only drawback as pets is their unceasing curiosity, which drives them to turn everything in a house upside down ! The kinkajou is a similar form, bright yellow in colour with close, velvety fur and a prehensile tail. It has a great capacity for climbing.