THE HOMES OF THE VIZCACHAS
One of the most curious and interesting of all the dwellers in the pampas of South America is a little fat creature, rather like a large guinea-pig, found from the Eio Negro to the Uruguay, and called the Vizcacha. It is nearly related to the Chinchilla, but does not enjoy mountain life or solitude, and, indeed, prefers to live in a settlement with twenty or thirty companions.
Like the beaver, the vizcacha is a great builder, and his houses are always made on the same plan. He first of all chooses a level spot, where the soil is neither sand nor gravel, and then digs deep trenches or passages which lead into the inner apartments, the front doors being very large and handsome, often as much as four or five feet wide. At the end is a large round room, and the whole dwelling is in the form of a Y.
Of course, during the process of building, a great deal of soil has to be thrown out, and the vizcacha, who is very neat and thorough about all he does, erects this into a mound, which serves as a protection to the burrow and prevents it being trampled under foot by the passing cattle, or being washed away by the heavy rains, as often happens to the homes of armadillos and other animals. On the sides of this mound bun-owing owls make their nests, and various small birds are to be found that exist (as far as is known) in no other place, while foxes and weasels find it quite a pleasant residence. These vizcacha burrows, or vizcacheras, as they axe called, often cover as much as two hundred square