Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pikas: making hay while the sun shines

Photos by Fool-On-The-Hill 
The sun is (finally) out in the Pacific Northwest, which means that the little pikas are out making hay. Literally. 

These rock-pile dwellers gather grasses and lay them out in the summer sun to dry, and then tuck them away in caches deep in the rocks. 

Although they live together in colonies, it's every pika for itself. They don't share dens or food supplies, so each is intent in putting in its own stash for the winter.

They do keep each other informed of the approach of dangerous animals, though, which is why you're likely to hear a pika before you see one. Their warning yell is a nasal eenk and surprisingly loud for such lil' fellas (about 5-6" long).

But should a weasel--a pika's worst enemy--show up to scout the rock pile, the little loudmouths shut right up. Slinky weasels can follow a pika down into its burrow, so then discretion is the better part of valor.


  1. Oooooh. Weasels. Everyone is scared of weasels!

  2. The wee pika gets a shout out in "Tibet Wild" by George Shaller.Here's quote and book review link I read.
    "But Mr. Schaller's own Chang Tang, where he has spent more than 40 months of his life, emerges as an increasingly peopled and troubled land, where mining and the rearing of livestock conflict with the needs of wildlife. The pika, a rabbit relative that forms a key part of the plateau's ecosystem, is poisoned en masse by government officials because it competes with livestock for grass."