Spend enough time hiking across talus slopes in the Cascades or Northern Rockies and you are bound to hear the high pitched whistle of the pika. Stand still for a minute or two and you are bound to see one or more of these cute little fur-balls scurrying across and under the talus. You may have witnessed them harvesting lupines too. One of the more whimsical and enjoyable to watch critters of the alpine world, here’s a half dozen facts you may not know about pikas.
- Pikas are not rodents! Yes, they are small and look like voles, but pikas are actually members of the family Leporidae. Which means they are related to hares and rabbits.
- Pikas are diurnal or crepuscular. I just love using the latter word. It’s a fancy way of saying they are active during
- There are two species of pikas in North America. The collared pika lives in Alaska and Canada’s Yukon Territory. The American pika lives in mountain ranges in western Canada and the United States.
- There are 29 species of pika worldwide. The majority of these species live in Asia.
- Pikas do not hibernate. Hence their characteristic of “haying.” They also eat their own dung and cache pellets as well as their “hay piles.”
- Pikas are indicator species of climate change. They are sensitive to high temperatures and their populations are under threat if temperatures in their alpine habitat continues to warm.