The Yuanat is a type of serpent reported by Thevet from the island of Hispaniola, or Cuba. It lives in trees, on land, and in the water, making it fish, fowl, and land beast.
This greatly terrifying creature is about the size of a rabbit and is frightful to behold. It has the tail of a lizard, and four weak bird’s legs, with the forelegs longer than the hindlegs and long claws on each toe. Its teeth are sharp. It has a spine running down its back like the fin of a fish. Underneath its throat there is a colorful flap of skin reaching down to its belly, its varied hues making it hard to tell which color is dominant. It can swim well, and is completely mute.
Despite its horrifying appearance, the yuanat tastes excellent, and its flesh is more highly prized than that of rabbits. It is also so gentle and harmless that the natives would keep a yuanat on a leash for ten or twelve days before eating it, and it would never attempt to harm them. However, Thevet notes that yuanat meat is harmful to those who have had the pox, as it causes the disease to return in full force.
Thevet, A. (1575) La Cosmographie Universelle. Guillaume Chaudiere, Paris.
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