American Pika (Ochotona princeps)

American Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Location:  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

This cute little critter, which somewhat resembles a guinea pig in size and body shape, is a threatened species residing in rocky areas of the Colorado mountains.  We saw this one scurrying about on a steep rocky bank near the Rainbow Curve Overlook on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Pikas do not hibernate, so they must gather and store food to sustain them during the harsh Rocky Mountain winters.  During the summer, they collect bunches of grasses and other plants and set them out on rocks to dry into hay.  They store the hay in piles under boulders.

Scientists from the University of Colorado recently assessed "69 historical sites known to host pikas in a swath of the Southern Rockies ranging from southern Wyoming through Colorado and into northern New Mexico. The results showed that 65 of the 69 historical sites that had hosted pikas — some dating back more than a century — were still occupied." Here is the link to an article about that study of the Pikas' habitat.

Here is a YouTube video about the University of Colorado team's study of the Pikas.


Tom Reichner said...

I absolutely love Pikas, but did not realized that they were considered threatened. I have always thought they were listed as a "species of least concern".

Anyway, whether common or rare, they certainly are awesome little critters, and I have enjoyed many an hour up in the high country, waiting for them to come out of the rocks.

BNS said...

Hi Tom - We love the pikas, too. We see them almost every time we visit Rocky Mountain National Park (which is not far from where we live). We know a few spots where they almost always appear -- especially if you are patient enough to wait for awhile. Sounds like you have learned that, too.