Species: American pika (Ochotona princeps)
Status: Least Concern (LC)
Interesting Fact: The American pika stores its own piles of ‘hay’ for the winter months.
The American pika is a small member of the rabbit family that inhabits alpine regions of south-western Canada and the western United States. This endearing mammal is well-adapted to cold climates, with short, dense fur and feet with densely furred soles. It feeds primarily on grasses and herbs, and, during the summer, the American pika collects and stores food in haypiles on rocks or in crevices. The food is stored for winter periods, when food is scarce and difficult to find. As a result of its haying behaviour, which modifies its habitat, the American pika is often called an ‘ecosystem engineer’.
Climate Change: The American pika is particularly vulnerable to climate change as it inhabits areas with cool, relatively moist climates in alpine regions. As temperatures rise, montane animals may seek higher altitudes in an attempt to find suitable habitat. The American pika, however, already occupies high altitudes, meaning it has little refuge from the pressures of climate change.
For more information on climate change, visit ARKive’s climate change pages.
Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author