Pikas (Ochotona princeps) have been a favorite animal of mine for a long time. I dunno how I haven't dedicated a blog entry (or few) to them yet, what was I thinking!? I first remember seeing a pika in the Tetons (Wyoming) in 2007. There were a few by my campsite and this caused me to be overcome with excitement. (there was also a chipmunk who jumped into an empty cooking pot and a moose nearby. Cool stuff).
The one shown here is from the Ruby Mountains in Northern Nevada (one of my favorite places). There were quite a few pikas around- I saw at least 9 of them and heard more than that. Holy pika overstimulation!
(fresh food cache above) So. Pikas. They're not the easiest animal to see. In the US, they live in a variety of Western states at pretty high elevations (generally 8,000 feet or more) on rocky slopes near those excellent mountain lakes. They have pretty sweet homes. Unfortunately, they can't tolerate high temperatures well, and have been greatly affected by climate change. That sucks.
(above: doing the pika scream, below: Pika habitat)
Whenever I'm hiking in the mountains I keep an ear out for their adorable and recognizable scream. The first time I heard it I had no idea what it was - took me hours to figure it out. But when I did I just smiled. Side note: I can do an uncanny pika vocalization.
They're pretty social little buggers but also extremely territorial. They spend their days collecting flowers and vegetation and shoving it under rocks, creating some pretty serious food caches. They let it dry and when it's done drying, they'll move it inside to their little humble abode and snarf it up during the winter months. (below: carrying a root of some sort to his cache)
If you haven't seen a pika scramble over rocks with a mouthful of green stuff, you haven't lived ! It is seriously one of the cutest things I have ever seen in the wild.
(Pika land above)
The American Pika needs to be on the endangered list, but that excellent government of ours decided to be the asses they usually are and not list it. This has been going on since 2007 I think- looks like California is going to give it a go this year again. Keep your fingers crossed and petitions signed cause this little friend needs all the help he can get. Camera Critters SOOC My World