Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/272

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KAN-SU MARMOT.

It prefers to burrow in the sides of grassy mountains, and lives in small societies, burrowing deep into the stony ground; several side-passages serve as a means of ingress and egress into the principal chamber.

Early in the morning as soon as the sun is up, and the air a little warmed, it issues out of its habitation and scampers about feeding on the grass, not returning to its burrows unless disturbed, till about ten o'clock, where it remains till two or three in the afternoon, when it again comes out and plays and feeds till sunset. This rule of course is not without exceptions, but in rainy weather they never stir above ground, although the rain may last several days in succession.

The Kan-su marmot is sagacious and wary, especially when it is hunted by man. Before leaving its burrow it pokes its head out, and remains half an hour in this position to assure itself of safety. Then half its body may be seen, and again it listens and looks all round, and then only comes quite out and feeds on the grass. If it notice danger, however far off, it immediately makes for its burrow, sits up on its hind legs and utters a loud, prolonged whistle; then if the object of its fears approach nearer it conceals itself again below the ground. But where it is in close proximity with the Tangutan yurtas and is not molested, its behaviour is bolder, although it never quite forgets its cautious cunning.

The usual mode of killing these animals is by lying in wait for them near the burrow, hiding before