The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Llama
Story Of The Carpincho
Story Of The Ant-eater
Story Of The Ostrich
Story Of The Lizard
Story Of The Kangaroo
Story Of The Hedgehog.
Story Of The Wild Goat
Story Of The Musquash
Story Of The Wart-hog
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Story Of The Carpincho
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
This animal is generally known as the water-hog, and is found in the large rivers of South America. It is now almost extinct, a few specimens being still to be found near the head waters of the Amazon. It attains a length of five feet, and often weighs over 100 pounds.
This animal is thoroughly aquatic in its habits, frequenting the margins of lakes and rivers, and swimming and diving with great speed. I saw several at the islands in the mouth of the Plata, where the water is quite salt, but they are more abundant on the borders of fresh-water lakes and rivers. Near Maldonado three or four generally live together. In the day-time they either lie among the aquatic plants, or openly feed on the turf plain. When viewed at a distance, from their manner of walking, as well as from the color, they resemble pigs; but when seated on their haunches, and attentively watching any object with one eye, they resume the appearance of their relatives, the cavies. These animals were very tame; by cautiously walking, I approached within three yards of- four old ones. This tameness may probably be accounted for by the jaguar having been banished for some years, and by the gaucho not thinking it worth his while to hunt them. As I approached nearer and nearer, they frequently made their peculiar noise, which is a low, abrupt grunt, not having much actual sound, but rather arising from the sudden expulsion of the air; the only noise I know at all like it is the first hoarse bark of a large dog. Having watched the four, from almost within arm's length for several minutes, they rushed into the water at full gallop, with the greatest impetuosity, and emitted at the same time their bark. After diving a short distance, they came again to the surface, but only just showed the upper parts of their heads.
In other places the carpincho occurs in larger herds, which may comprise twenty or more individuals. The usual pace of the animal is a long trot, of no great swiftness; but when pressed it will advance in a series of leaps. It has no regular lair, although the herd generally returns to the
same part of the river hank. The general food consists of water plants and the bark of young trees, but in the neighborhood of cultivated lands carpinchos will consume large quantities of watermelons, maize, rice and sugarcane. In disposition these animals are quiet and peaceful, not to say stupid, and they never appear to indulge in sportive gambols. They occupy their time either in feeding or in reposing in a listless manner on the banks of the rivers or lakes they frequent. When thus reposing, one individual will from time to time raise its head to see if any foe be approaching, and if an alarm arise they soon plunge headlong into the water.