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Pikas: Ochotonidae

Northern Pika (ochotona Hyperborea): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The northern pika, also known as the Siberian pika, is slightly larger than the American pika. It has a body length of 7 to 12 inches (17.5 to 30.0 centimeters) and weighs about 7 ounces (200 grams). Northern pikas have medium brown fur on their upper bodies and orange to cream fur on their undersides.

Geographic range: The northern pika has the largest distribution range of any pika species. It ranges from eastern Siberia to Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk and the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is found in eastern Russia, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, and Manchuria in northern China.

Habitat: Northern pikas live in high grassy plains, coniferous forest, tundra, among rocky outcroppings and crevices, and in burrows under large stones on the land surface.

Diet: Northern pikas are herbivores, meaning they eat mainly plants. Their diet consists mostly of grasses and herbs. Like other Male and female pairs of northern pikas usually live in colonies with other pikas. (© D. Robert & Lorri Franz/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

pikas, they build hay piles of grasses that they feed on during the harsh winters.

Behavior and reproduction: Northern pikas are generally very social and curious. They are believed to be monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), meaning a male and female pair for life. The pairs usually live in small colonies. Most females have two litters of babies during the summer, with each litter consisting of one to five babies.

Northern pikas do not survive in captivity. The subspecies Manehurian (Manchurian) pika dies within an hour after being caught by humans.

Northern pikas and people: Northern pikas have little economic importance to humans.

Conservation status: Northern pikas are not listed as threatened by the IUCN. However, the subspecies Ochotona hyperborea yesoensis found on Hokkaido Island is considered endangered by the Japanese government. ∎



Macdonald, David. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Miller, Sara Swan. Rabbits, Pikas, and Hares. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 2002.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.


Brown, Paul. "American Pika Doomed as First Mammal Victim of Climate Change."The Guardian (August 21, 2003).

Buck, Kelly L., and Brandon Sheafor. "Selection of Phenolics in Alpine Plans by Ochotona princepes (North American Pikas)." The Ohio Journal of Science (March 2003): A-11.

Smith, Andrew T., and Marla L. Weston. "Ochotona princeps." Mammalian Species (April 26, 1990): 1–8.

Sohn, Emily. "Now Mammals are Feeling the Heat." New Scientist (October 5, 2002): 9.

Web sites:

Myers, Phil, and Anna Bess Sorin. "Family Ochotonidae (Pikas)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ochotonidae.html (accessed on July 7, 2004).

Jansa, Sharon. "Ochotona princeps (American Pika)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ochotona_princeps.html (accessed on July 7, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsPikas: Ochotonidae - Behavior And Reproduction, American Pika (ochotona Princeps): Species Accounts, Northern Pika (ochotona Hyperborea): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PIKAS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS