Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pika Hut

Assiduous Pika

Benevolent Pika

Hungry Pika

Oh, who will stand up for the pika? If not us, who else?
Among the many problems this nation and the entire world currently faces; over fishing of the world's oceans, world economic recession, pollution of drinking water with pharmaceuticals, Paula Abdul leaving American Idol, the plight of the pika has to stand in parity.
Not to be confused with the Pooka (Puka, Old Irish), the mischievous shape shifting fairy spirit, appearing to rum pots, crackpots, and how are you dear readers?
No the pika is quite a different thing all together.
A pika (pictured above) although looking more like a mouse, or hamster, is closely related to rabbits, and are often heard exclaiming,"Eeeh, what's up doc!?" Just kidding. Only bunnies do that. Picas can be heard calling to each other with cries of, "Eeeennnccck!" which has no discernable meaning yet discovered. They just call out "Eeeennnccck!" to each other and move on looking for the next pika they may happen to meet to go "Eeeennnccck!" to. Perhaps they are looking for friends and don't have Facebook.
They are mammals, just like us, although I've never gone "Eeeennnccck!" to anybody, as far as I can remember. They are small (about 7.5 inches in length) and fury, which is a good thing as they like to live way up in the mountains right here in North America, Asia, and parts of Europe, where it is usually pretty cold. They like to live in crevices in rocky places, where they can make their little pika homes to store food and make their beds, because unlike bears and the U.S. Congress, they do not hibernate during the winter. Some species of the pika who live in steppe lands, burrow to make their homes, because there are no rocks around. In Eurasia, pikas sometimes share their burrows with snowfinches, which are birds, who build their nests there. They pay rent.
Pikas have shorts limbs, round ears, a small tail, and whiskers. They weigh anywhere between 2.5 ounces, to 10 ounces for the big fat ones.
Pikas are primarily diurnal or like me, crepuscular, when I get really crazy, and tend to be active during the day. They are herbivores, which mean they don't hunt other animals, and eat grasses and plant matter, which they gather together in haypiles to dry out before storage. Pikas seem to be amoral, as sometimes they steal grass and plant matter from their neighbors, the marmots, who get pretty mad about it, but what can you do?
"Freaking pikas!," marmots say.
Some pikas live in groups and work together to gather food and keep watch for predictors, because amazingly enough, some other animals, not herbivores, will eat a pika if they get the chance. Some pikas are territorial, and will run off other tress-passing pikas. And American pikas don't like anybody, and stay by themselves except to mate (oh yeah, then they'll come out!).
Sometimes referred to as rock rabbits or coneys, the mountain dwelling pikas will typically have small litters of less than 5, while their cousin borrowers will tend to have more probably due to more food being available.
How many types of pikas are there, you ask. Good question! Let's see. There are your northern pikas, such as the Alpine Pika, the Silver Pika, Turuchan Pika, Hoffman's Pika, American Pika, Collared Pika, Pallas Pika, and the old Northern Pika. Then you have your shrub-steppe pikas, such as the Gansu, or Gray Pika, the Daurian Pika, Tsing-Ling Pika, Nubra Pika, Steppe Pika, Afghan Pika, Moupin Pika, Thomas's Pika, and the infamous Plateau, or Black Lipped Pika. Last but certainly not least, we have the mountain pikas, such as Chinese Red Pika, Turkestan Red Pika, Forrest's Pika, Royle's Pika, Gaoligong Pika, Black Pika, Glover's Pika, Muli Pika, Himalayan Pika, Lli Pika, Kozlov's Pika, Ladak Pika, and the ever engaging Large-eared Pika, named because of its tremendous pika ears.
So, what is the plight of the pikas, specifically our citizen friend the American Pika?
Despite one faction opening a chain of Pika Hut restaurants in Denver, it appears that human activity and climate change is driving the poor little critter's natural habitat to higher and higher elevations, and thus possibly to extinction, because there is only so high you can go.
Now I don't know about you, dear readers, but I wouldn't want to be a member of the species responsible for causing the extinction of a branch of animals that are so, well... cute, despite their propensity for eating their own poop. I mean, I wish I had a pika to play with, and hold and squeeze until it's cute little lifeless body crumbled within my grasp.
How can humans as a species, the caretakers of this planet allow the the demise of these harmless animals? This animal may be the first North American mammalian species to fall victim to the effects of global warming, a stark warning of things to come.
The effects of global warming are real. The pika reminds us of this. Please support climate change legislation within our nation and without, and donate to the World Wildlife Fund, noting the struggling of the American Pika.
The fate of the pika rests in your hands!

Addendum: 9-6-17: Pikas disappearing from California

Addendum: 6-20-18:   Ili pika 


  1. Humour makes this a very touching piece though I am not sure what you mean by wanting to hold and squeeze a pika until it dies. But I can understand the sense of being overwhelmed by its cuteness.

    Walking in the Himalayas in India, I have encountered the Royle's Pika. Here's my account. http://thegreenogre.blogspot.com/2010/10/encounter-royles-pika.html

  2. i love pika's, i saw a contest and there was a picture of a pika on it, the contest was to guess what the animal was. i didn't enter, but a month later the answer was shown. it was a pika!!!! i was right.

  3. Should have entered that contest Melissa. You know your pikas!

    Pikas rule!