An animal resembling a weasel, and well worthy of being
defended by priest and prince in Egypt, as it feeds on serpents, mice,
and other vermin, and is especially fond of crocodiles' eggs, which it
scratches out of the sand. According to legend, it steals into the
mouths of crocodiles when they gape, and eats out their bowels. The
ichneumon is called “Pharaoh's rat.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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