|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|A Pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, very round body, rounded ears, and no external tail. The name "pika" is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the orderof 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. In the United States, the pika is colloquially called a "coney", a nonspecific term also used for rabbits, hares and hyraxes. |
On the photo it’s the Ochotona princeps.
Pikas are native to cold climates, mostly in Asia, North America, and parts of Eastern Europe. Most species live on rocky mountain sides, where numerous crevices in which to shelter occur, although some pikas 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 in body length and weigh between 120 and 350 grams, 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
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. Some species are territorial. North American pikas (O. princeps and O. collaris) area social, leading solitary lives outside the breeding season.
Pikas have distinct calls that vary in duration. The call can either be short and quick, or a little longer and drawn out, or songs. The short calls are an example of geographic variation. The pikas determined the appropriate time to make short calls by listening for cues for sound localization. The calls are used as either a warning signals or as a way to attract the opposite gender. There are also different calls depending on the type of season. In the spring, the calls, songs, became more frequent due to the breeding season. In late summer, the vocalizations became short calls. Through various studies, the vocalizations mark that the calls can be used as a taxonomic tool.
The average lifespan in pikas is roughly around 7 years in the wild. In order to determine how old a pika is, one would have to count the adhesion lines on the periosteal bone on the lower jaw. The lifespan does not differ between the sexes.
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