THE HOMES OF THE VIZGACHAS 111
well till the young ones are able to leave their cells, when the foxes throw off their masks and seize them for dinner, even fighting the old ones first.
For a long while, the vizcachas, being of no use to mankind, were let quite alone, but of late they have grown so very numerous, and the land has been thrown so much more into cultivation, that it has become necessary to destroy them. Efforts have been made to stop up some of their burrows, but their friends learn in some wonderful way of the danger of their comrades, and will come even from great distances to dig them out. Their wonderful powers of endurance enable them to stand a long siege, and they can live without food for as long as fourteen days. If they are allowed to die a natural death in their own inner chamber, the dead vizcacha is left to lie in state, for a few days, after which he is carried out by his relatives, and placed solemnly on the side of the mound.