110 THE HOMES OF THE VIZCACHAS
himself heard at a great distance. He also has a very odd trick of stopping in the middle of his dinner to utter loud shrieks, and at night he never seems to stop talking, as dwellers on the pampas know too well.
Vizcachas are hardy little creatures, who can do without water as long as they can get green food. But in dry summers, when nothing is to be had but withered grass or dry thistle-stalks, they are forced to drink when they can. They are very busy and energetic, and when once their house is ready, time seems to hang heavy on their hands—at least, that is perhaps the reason why they are so careful to leave nothing lying about, but drag every kind of refuse to the mouth of the burrow and pile it up in a mass. This trick is so well known, that, in the pampas, when any article is missing, it is at once looked for in a vizcachera, just as we should search a magpie's nest, and it is on record that a man's watch was once discovered there. The little animals show a sense of fun, too, which must make them amusing to watch, especially in their dealings with dogs. Except when they are feeding, when anything upsets them, the appearance of a dog produces no effect on the nerves of a vizcacha. He will continue sitting quietly on his mound till the dog gets near, when he retreats quietly into his burrow. The dog never can resist the sight of a vizcacha, and never learns that it is impossible to catch one, so this game goes on for ever, to the great enjoyment of the vizcacha.
The birds and beasts and insects who profit by the work of the vizcachas and make their homes on the mounds are on the friendliest terms with them, and, indeed, the foxes take a base advantage of the friendliness of the little creatures. They come into the vizcacha dwellings, and stay there till a 'wing' is given up to them. The good-natured and easy-going vizcachas, however, do not resent this, and may even be seen taking the air with their guests on summer evenings. All goes