Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/66

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58
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

So long as it is awake this animal is rarely idle. It is always busy carrying hay, straw, etc., into its nest. It fills its mouth with these things, and the amount it can stow away is incredible to one who has not seen it. What it can not get into its mouth it takes between its paws, and carries that too. It never soils itself with its urine or fæces, but either deposits them in the proper place in the burrow, or throws them away from its body. Johannes Stumpff says, in his chronicle, that the marmot always stinks in the summer before it gets fat.

Of its Cleverness and Sweet Nature. — Occasionally they frolic in the sunshine before their holes like kittens or puppies, rolling themselves in balls and frisking and chattering to each other. When reared in the house they carry on their sports before the eye of man. When angry they bite viciously, but when they are once used to captivity they make man their playmate, and sometimes catch his lice like a monkey. Few animals become more familiar than this one. It sometimes bites the dog, which is too well trained to defend itself.

When the marmots gather in the meadows to play, one stands near the mouth of the hole on the watch for men or other enemies,

PSM V47 D066 Gesner squid.jpg

Fig. 11.

and gives warning of the approach of danger by a bark or a shrill, high-pitched whistle. As soon as the others hear this cry they run to the hole, tumbling over each other in their hurry, the sentinel standing guard till all are in.

In unfavorable weather they remain in their holes; with their high-pitched voices they give notice of changes in the weather as* well as of the approach of danger.