The American pika is quite possibly one of the most adorable animals around. But sadly, like many animals, they’re threatened with extinction because of our actions. There are things we can do to help save them. It all starts with learning about them and spreading the word. Here’s 5 wild facts about the American pika:
1. The pika is actually a bunny.
Though the pika looks a bit more like a mouse, it’s actually more closely related to the rabbit. It belongs to the order Lagomorpha, the same as rabbits and hares. Some features set them apart, however. They have smaller ears and have the longest tails of any lagomorph.
2. Pikas live in colonies.
Pikas live in colonies, but that doesn’t mean they’re good neighbors. They’re actually very defensive of their individual dens. They’ll fight with each other over territory and belt out territorial calls to let others know what’s what.
3. Pikas are called the “Whistling hare.”
Pikas, when they sense danger, will let out a shrill whistle when they spot a predator, like an eagle or a hawk. As they dart down into their dens, their chirping wails let others know that danger is afoot.
4. Pikas don’t hibernate.
Unlike many small mammals, pikas don’t hibernate in the winter. They spend a lot of time gathering flowers and grasses for the winter months. They pile these grasses in the sun to cure them, then store them under rocks. One pika can gather up to 60 pounds of grass for winter!
5. Climate change may doom them.
One of the greatest threats to the American pika is plain and simple: climate change. Many animals are reacting to climate change by moving higher in altitude to avoid the heat. But pikas already live at high altitudes – they have nowhere to go but down. As the planet heats up, the pika may disappear.