Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 04/07/2015

Photo taken on August 19, 2014

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American Pika
Highway 40
Ochonta princeps
6-9 inches long
side view
Canadian Rockies
wild animal
Rocky Mountains
cold climates

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Love a Pika's ears

Love a Pika's ears
On 19 August 2014, I was lucky enough to have the chance to try and photograph a couple of these absolutely adorable little creatures : ) After a while, I was beginning to despair of ever getting any decent shots at all. These tiny Pikas, also known as Rock Rabbits, hardly ever remain still and they are extremely fast! Imagine a mountain hillside covered in sharp, jagged rocks of all sizes and then try to picture how difficult it is to find in the viewfinder the single rock on which one of these Pikas might happen to be sitting for a second or two, lol! By the time you find the rock, the Pika is long gone. As time passed, I managed to take quite a lot of photos, though a lot needed to be deleted.

They rely on existing spaces between the rocks for their homes - they don't dig a burrow, though they can dig to make their home bigger. Because the Pikas are a similar colour to many of the surrounding rocks, it is so difficult to see them - unless you happen to catch sight of some movement or you see a bunch of greenery moving at top speed over the rocky mountain side. They keep so busy, collecting plants and leaves to store in their little cave for the winter. As soon as they have dropped the bunch of greenery in their cave, off they go to collect yet another mouthful.

They are only about 15 to 23 centimetres (5.9 to 9.1 in) in body length, so really are pretty small. And, no, I didn't put one in my pocket to bring home with me!

"The American Pika is a generalist herbivore. It eats a large variety of green plants, including different kinds of grasses, sedges, thistles and fireweed. Although pikas can meet their water demands from the vegetation they eat, they do drink water if it is available in their environment. Pikas have two different ways of foraging: they directly consume food (feeding) or they cache food in haypiles to use for a food source in the winter (haying). The pika feeds throughout the year while haying is limited to the summer months. Since they do not hibernate, pikas have greater energy demands than other montane mammals. In addition, they also make 13 trips per hour to collect vegetation when haying, up to a little over 100 trips per day." From Wikipedia.

Link to a video that someone has posted on YouTube, to see and hear these little Rock Rabbits: