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throughout the deserts of Patagonia, as far south as the damp and cold latitudes (fifty-three to fifty-four degrees) of Tierra del Fuego. I have seen its footsteps in the cordillera of Central Chile, at an elevation of at least ten thousand feet. In La Plata the puma preys chiefly on deer, ostriches, bizca. chas, and other small quadrupeds; it there seldom attacks cattle or horses, and most rarely man. In Chile, however, it destroys many young horses and cattle, owing probably to the scarcity of other quadrupeds. I heard, likewise, of two men and a woman who had been thus killed. It is said that the puma always kills its prey by springing on the shoul. ders, and then drawing back the head with one of its paws until the vertebræ break. The puma, , after eating its fill, covers the carcass with many large bushes, and lies down to watch it. This habit is often the cause of its being discovered; for the condors, wheel. ing in the air, every now and then descend to share in the feast, and, being angrily driven away, rise all together on the wing. The Chilean then knows there is a lion watching his prey; the word is given, and men and dogs hurry to the chase.
The flesh of the puma is in great esteem, resembling veal not a little both in color, taste, and flavor.
The wooded banks of the great river's appear to be the favorite haunts of the jaguar; but south of the Plata, I was
told they frequented the reeds bordering lakes: wherever they
are, they seem to require wath
ter. Their common prey is the capibara, or water-hog, so that it is generally said, where capibaras are numerous there is little danger from the jaguar. Falconer states that near the southern side of the mouth of the Plata there are many jag. uars, and that they chiefly live
on fish. This account I have heard repeated. On the Parana they have killed many wood-cutters, and have even entered vessels at night. When the floods drive these animals from the islands they are most dangerous. I was told that, a few years since, a very large
, one found its
into a church at Santa Fé: two priests, entering one after the other, were killed, and a third, who came to see what was the matter, escaped with difficulty. The beast was destroyed by being shot from a corner of the building which was unroofed.
They conimit, also, at these times, great ravages among cattle and horses. It is said that they kill their prey by breaking their necks. If driven from the carcass, they seldom return to it. The jaguar is a noisy animal, roaring much by night, and especially before bad weather.
One day, when hunting on the banks of the Uruguay, I was shown certain trees to which these animals constantly resort, for the purpose, as it is said, of sharpening their claws. I saw three well-known trees; in front, the bark was worn smooth, as if by the breast of the animal, and on each side there were deep scratches, or rather grooves, nearly a yard in length. The scars were of different ages. A common mode of finding out whether a jaguar is in the neighborhood, is to examine one of these trees. I imagine this habit of the jaguar is exactly similar to one which may any day be seen in the common cat, as with outstretched legs and uncovered claws it scrapes the leg of a chair; and I have heard of young fruit-trees in an orchard in England having been thus much injured. Some such habit must also be common to the puma, for on the bare, hard soil of Patagonia, I have frequently seen scores so deep that no other animal could have made them. The object of this practice is, I believe, to tear off the ragged points of their claws, and not, as the Gauchos think, tu sharpen them. The jaguar is killed, without much difficulty, by the aid of dogs baying and driv. ing him up a tree, where he is despatched with bullets.
The Gauchos differ in their opinion whether the jaguar is good eating, but are unanimous in saying that puma is excellent.
THE bizcacha of the pampas (South American prairies) somewhat resembles the large rabbit, but with bigger gnaw. ing teeth and a long tail. It is a curious circumstance in its geographical distribution that it has never been seen, fortunately for the inhabitants of Banda Oriental, to the eastward of the River Uruguay; yet in this province there are plains which appear admirably adapted to its habits. The Uruguay has formed an insuperable obstacle to its migration, although the broader barrier of the Parana has been passed, and the bizcacha is common in Entre Rios, the prov. ince between these two great rivers. Near Buenos Ayres these animals are exceedingly common.
Their favorite resort appears to be those parts of the plain which, during one half of the year, are covered with giant thistles in place of all other plants.
The Gauchos declare that it lives on roots—which, from the great strength of its gnawing-teeth, and the kind of places frequented by it, ceems probable. In the evening the bizcachas come out in numbers, and quietly sit at the mouths of their burrows on their haunches. At such times they are very tame. They run very awkwardly, and, when running out of danger, from their uplifted tails and short front legs, much resemble great rats. Their flesh, when cooked, is very white and good, but it is seldom used.
The bizcacha has one very singular habit, namely, drag. ging every hard object to the mouth of its burrow: around each group of holes many bones of cattle, stones, thistle. stalks, hard lumps of earth, dry dung, etc., are collected into
an irregular heap, which frequently amounts to as much as a wheelbarrow would contain. I was told, and can believe it, that a gentleman, when riding on a dark night, dropped his watch; he returned in the morning, and by searching
the neighborhood of every bizcacha hole on the line of road, he soon found it, as he expected. This habit of picking up whatever may be lying on the ground anywhere near its habitation, must cost much trouble. pose it is done I am quite unable to guess: it cannot be
For what pur.