1632: French omnivore has trouble with live mice

In 1632, two prominent German doctors, Sennert and Nesterus, learned of a man named Claudius, a noted glutton and omnivore. Nesterus travelled to Claudius’ village in Lorraine and attended one of his regular ‘performances’. According to Nesterus’ report to Sennert, Claudius swallowed and held down a variety of objects on demand, including:

“…chalk, coals, ashes… nasty objects, of gross excrements of animals and urine mixed with wine and ale, bones, hares’ feet [still] clothed with skin and flux; and chewed with his teeth pewter platters, leaden bullets and other metals, and afterward swallowed them down his gullet.”

According to others in the village Claudius once “ate a whole calf raw, with the skin and hair, in the space of a few days” and followed this by consuming “two tallow candles burning”. Claudius occasionally swallowed live animals, particularly fish, however he did this reluctantly following a nasty experience:

“[He] once swallowed down whole two live mice, which frisked up and down his stomach, often biting it, for a quarter of an hour.”

Several years later Nesterus made inquiries after Claudius, to find out if he was still alive and still eating all manner of things. The answer was yes to both, however Claudius’ teeth were “now blunted, so he did it less frequently”.

Sources: Daniel Sennert, Hypnomnemata Phyiscae, 1636; Samuel Collins, A Systeme of Anatomy, 1685. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.