Posted on January 4, 2011

I’m still trying to drag out that warm, fuzzy vacation feeling, so here’s a warm, fuzzy blog post about cute animals.  In the Nivacle communities I’ve visited it’s really rare to find a household without any pets.  Most of the households I’ve visited have at least one dog and occasionally you’ll find a house with a cat.  The dogs are a mix of many different breeds and come in all shapes and sizes so it’s fun to guess at their parentage.  The dogs are usually trained to help with hunting, particularly hunting viscachas.

Viscachas are fairly large rodents that are closely related to chinchillas, but look a lot like rabbits.  They make really big holes in the ground, where they sleep during the day (they’re nocturnal).  The roads in Isolationville are really broken up with viscacha burrows.  One of the households I visited had found a baby viscacha and were keeping it as a pet:



Baby viscacha


Another animal that is often hunted is rabbits, and another household had found and raised a baby rabbit as a pet.  The rabbit lived off in the woods behind the house now, but would come when it was called by its name: “Vicky!”



Vicky the rabbit


A couple of households had a pet parrot:





These big parrots are most likely to come from the Argentinian side of the border (they’re rarely spotted around the communities).  There are lots of little green parrots around the communities, but they can’t learn to talk like the big parrots (and they’re really noisy and obnoxious), so they aren’t kept as pets.  The parrot in this picture was imitating crying baby sounds when I first met him.

Another bird that is often kept as a pet is catas (cata is the word the locals used – I haven’t been able to find a scientific name or other colloquial name yet).



Baby catas

Tough to identify from their baby pictures… but they’re definitely CUTE.


I’m a little depressed that I didn’t get a picture of my last exotic pet encounter: a baby peccary.   In Nivacle they are called vojo (pronounced vo-ho) and in Spanish “chancho del monte” (wild boars – although technically a peccary is not the same as a boar or pig, they’re more like cousins).  The day before my visit to the house, a mother peccary paid a visit with her baby in tow (I think it was raiding the garden).  The mom was killed and skinned (her hide was hanging up to dry), but they kept the baby.  I’m not sure which species of peccary it was (there are three in Paraguay: Chacoan peccaries, collared peccaries, and white-lipped peccaries), but it was just as cute as the baby Chacoan peccaries on this site.


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