We have shared fun facts about many cute wild animals over the time here at Light Future Art and today we’re continuing to do so. Here are some little known facts about the American pika.
1. While pikas may look similar to hamsters or gerbils, they are actually most closely related to rabbits and hares and as such are not actually rodents, but rather lagomorphs. In some areas, they are also referred to as “mouse hares” or “rock rabbits”.
2. It is believed that pikas crossed the Land Bridge from Asia to America back in the Ice Age. This is the same geographical formation which let humans come to the Americas.
3. Pikas are diurnal (meaning that they are awake during the day) and spend most of their time collecting food to store for winter. They do not hibernate and so need to stockpile a lot to sustain them through the months where there aren’t many growing plants. The pikas lay their food out to dry in the sun so that it doesn’t rot while being stored.
4. A group of pikas is called a colony. Colonies are very territorial and will fiercely defend their borders from other pikas. They prefer to make their homes in high mountainous regions, where they live among the rocks. They can live their whole lives in these alpine regions where no trees can grow.
5. Pikas are born in a litter of two to six individuals. They are totally dependent on their mothers for the first month and it takes until they are three months old before the mother can confidently let them survive on their own. Pikas reach full maturity at one year old.
6. Pikas have many natural predators, such as foxes, birds of prey, and bobcats, but by far their biggest threat is global warming. They have thick fur which helps them survive in frigid alpine regions but rising temperatures pose a major threat to pikas’ welfare. Luckily in the United States, they are recognized as a protected species.
7. Pikas are very vocal. Not only do they yell at intruding pikas from other colonies, they make high-pitched bleating noises to attract mates and other calls to warn the rest of the colony about a danger. Often one will hear pikas before they are ever seen.
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