Temporal range: Oligocene–Recent
|American pika (Ochotona princeps) in Sequoia National Park|
(Lepus dauuricus Pallas, 1776)
The pika (pron.: // PY-kə; archaically spelled pica) is a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and no external tail. The name pika is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae (rabbits and hares). One genus, Ochotona, is recognised within the family, and it includes 30 species. It is also known as the "whistling hare" due to its high-pitched alarm call when diving into its burrow. The name "pika" appears to be derived from the Tungus piika.
Pikas are native to cold climates, mostly in Asia, North America and parts of Eastern Europe. Most species live on rocky mountain sides, where there are numerous crevices to shelter in, although some also construct crude burrows. A few burrowing species are native to open steppe land. In the mountains of Eurasia, pikas often share their burrows with snowfinches, which build their nests there.
Pikas are small mammals, with short limbs and rounded ears. They are about 15 to 23 centimetres (5.9 to 9.1 in) in body length and weigh between 120 and 350 grams (4.2 and 12 oz), depending on species. Like rabbits, after eating they initially produce soft green feces, which they eat again to take in further nutrition, before producing the final, solid, fecal pellets.
These animals are herbivores, and feed on a wide variety of plant matter, including forbs, grasses, sedges, shrub twigs, moss, and lichen. As with other lagomorphs, pikas have gnawing incisors and no canines, although they have fewer molars than rabbits, giving them a dental formula of: 184.108.40.206
Rock-dwelling pikas have small litters of fewer than five young, while the burrowing species tend to give birth to more young, and to breed more frequently, possibly due to a greater availability of resources in their native habitats. The young are born after a gestation period of between 25 and 30 days.
Pikas are diurnal or crepuscular, with higher elevation species generally being more active during the daytime. They show their peak activity just before the winter season. Pikas do not hibernate, so they generally spend time during the summer collecting and storing food they will eat over the winter. Each rock-dwelling pika stores its own "haypile" of dried vegetation, while burrowing species often share food stores with their burrow mates. Haying behavior is more prominent at higher elevations. Many of the vocalizations and social behaviors that pikas exhibit are related to haypile defense.
Eurasian pikas commonly live in family groups and share duties of gathering food and keeping watch. At least some species are territorial. North American pikas (O. princeps and O. collaris) are asocial, leading solitary lives outside the breeding season.
There are 30 species listed.
- Order Lagomorpha
- Family Ochotonidae: pikas
- Genus Ochotona
- Subgenus Pika: northern pikas
- Subgenus Ochotona: shrub-steppe pikas
- Gansu pika/Gray pika, Ochotona cansus
- Plateau pika/Black-lipped pika, Ochotona curzoniae
- Daurian pika, Ochotona dauurica
- Tsing-ling pika, Ochotona huangensis
- Nubra pika, Ochotona nubrica
- Steppe pika, Ochotona pusilla
- Afghan pika, Ochotona rufescens
- Moupin pika, Ochotona thibetana
- Thomas's pika, Ochotona thomasi
- Subgenus Conothoa: mountain pikas
- Chinese red pika, Ochotona erythrotis
- Forrest's pika, Ochotona forresti
- Gaoligong pika, Ochotona gaoligongensis
- Glover's pika, Ochotona gloveri
- Himalayan pika, Ochotona himalayana
- Ili pika, Ochotona iliensis
- Koslov's pika, Ochotona koslowi
- Ladak pika, Ochotona ladacensis
- Large-eared pika, Ochotona macrotis
- Muli pika, Ochotona muliensis
- Black pika, Ochotona nigritia
- Royle's pika, Ochotona roylei
- Turkestan red pika, Ochotona rutila
- Genus Ochotona
- Family Ochotonidae: pikas
- Hoffman, R. S.; Smith, A. T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 185–193. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Savage, RJG, & Long, MR (1986). Mammal Evolution: an illustrated guide. New York: Facts on File. p. 128. ISBN 0-8160-1194-X.
- Kawamichi, Takeo (1984). Macdonald, D., ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 726–727. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ochotona|
- The Trek of the Pika "A story complete with sounds of pika calls" 30 October 2002