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the pouch on each side of the cheeks stuffed with young French beans, arranged so closely to each other, that the most expert fingers could not have packed the beans in more regular order. When they were laid loosely on the table, they formed a heap three times the size of the animal's body. It is not surprising, therefore, that, as during the season of autumn they are constantly at work, they should manage to stow away vast quantities of grain. As soon as they have completed their work, they stop up the mouth of their passage very carefully. This stock of provisions is not intended for their food during winter, as they then become torpid, but for their use until the cold sets in, and after the first warm weather awakens them. In winter the peasants go on what they call a "Hamster nesting," and when they discover a horde, which they know by the small mounts of earth raised over the hole, they dig down till they reach it, and are commonly well paid for their trouble, for besides the value of the animal's skin, they find perhaps too bushels of good grain in the magazine.
When the cold compels the Hamster to retire to his hole, he closes the entrance, and during the time he sleeps is seemingly quite insensible, and has the appearance of being dead. His head is bent under his body, and the hind legs rest upon his nose; the eyes are shut, the limbs stiff, and the body feels as cold as ice. When the time for his awakening arrives, he begins to breathe, but very slowly; on moving his limbs he opens his mouth and makes a rattling noise in the throat. He does not open his eyes for some days, or attempt to stand; and when he has attained his usual attitude, he rests quietly for a long time to recollect himself and recover from his torpor. These animals do not, like the beaver, live in amicable societies; indeed their lives seem to be passed between eating and fighting; they are naturally fierce, and make a desperate defence when attacked, and appear to be ignorant of seeking safety in flight, for rather than yield the Hamster will suffer himself to be beaten to death with a stick. If he once catches hold of his foe, he never quits him but with loss of life. The size of a horse or man seems to terrify him as little as the address of the dog. When the Hamster perceives a dog at a distance, he begins to empty his cheek-pouches, which he does with great celerity, as their contents prevent him the full use of his teeth. He then blows these pouches out to such a size, that his head and neck become larger than the rest of his body. He raises himself on his hind legs, and thus darts upon the enemy. If two Hamsters meet, they never fail to attack each other, and the conqueror always devours the slain.
In some years the Hamsters are so numerous that they occasion a dearth of corn. It is recorded by M. Sultzer, that they abound in such a degree in Gotha, that in a single year more than 80,000 of their skins, upon which a premium for their destruction was paid, were brought to the TownHouse
The musk-rat (M. zibitliicus) takes its name from its peculiar and well-known smell. It inhabits the slow streams of North America. It does not, like that timid animal, retire from places inhabited by men; but, relying on its peculiar instinct for concealment, remains secure within a very short distance of a large city. The musk-rat owes this security to its nocturnal and aquatic mode of life. The holes which it makes in summer are so burrowed under the banks of the river, as that the entrance may be always in the deep water, frequently beneath the roots of large trees. These burrows are sometimes so numerous as to cause great injury to the farmer, by allowing the waters to flow in upon the lands of his farm.
In low and marshy spots the musk-rat builds houses where families live together during winter. Like the beaver's they are round, and covered at top in form of a dome, and are made of reeds and flags, &c. cemented with mud. As the musk-rat builds in comparatively a dry situation, he requires no dam. He does not, like the beaver, lay up a stock of winter provisions, as he dives for his food, which consists chiefly of the roots of grass, flags, and water-lilies. "It sometimes happens," says Hearne, "in very cold weather that the holes in their houses freeze over in spite of all their efforts to keep them open. When that is the case the strongest party prey upon the weakest, till by degrees only one is left in a whole lodge. I have seen several instances to confirm the truth of this; for when their houses were broken open, the skeletons of seven or eight have been found, and only one entire animal."
In the southern part of the country, they sometimes raise mounds of earth on which they build very large houses. The tops of these houses are favourite breeding places for the geese, which bring forth their young brood there without fear of being molested by foxes or any other destructive animal but the eagle.
The musk-rat is an excellent diver, and remains for a considerable time under water. During daytime it lies concealed in its burrow ; but by watching during moonlight nights, the musk-rat may be seen swimming in various directions, and coming on shore for food or amusement. It is about the size of a rabbit. Its body and head very much resemble the beaver, excepting in colour, which is of a reddish brown. The feet and tail also differ, the toes are not connected together, and the tail,