The American Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Also known as: "Cony," "Whistling Hare," "Piping Hare," or "Rock Rabbit"

A brownish, small mammal with rounded ears and no visible tail. American pikas are found in areas of broken rock and talus, which are surrounded by suitable vegetation. They are most often found at the interface between meadow habitat and open rocky terrain, usually at elevations of 8,000 - 13,500 feet.

American pikas are active outside their dens about 30% of daylight hours. Much of this time is devoted to feeding, haying, surveilance and territory defense. Adults establish and defend independent territories, and territories of males tend to be adjacent to females. Pikas use two characteristic vocalizations, the short call and the song. The short call is given as an alarm to alert others of avian predators; it is also used as a territory defense call. The song is given primarily by males during the breeding season, but both males and females may sing during the autumn.

Pikas are important in maintaining the diversity and abundance of alpine meadow plant species. Plant diversity increases in areas where pikas are actively haying large grasses and forbs.

More information on pikas:
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Animal Diversity Web
The Website of Everything
Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests
Video, Life of Mammals, The Pika


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