1 minute read

Pikas: Ochotonidae

Behavior And Reproduction, American Pika (ochotona Princeps): Species Accounts, Northern Pika (ochotona Hyperborea): Species AccountsPHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PIKAS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS


All pikas (PEE-kuhz) are similar in appearance, being small, compact mammals with large, round ears and short front and rear legs. They resemble guinea pigs in size and appearance, ranging in length from 5 to 12 inches (12.5 to 30.0 centimeters) and weighing 3.5 to 7 ounces (100 to 200 grams). Pikas lack a noticeable tail. They have long, soft fur that is usually gray or brown, often with red accents.

Pikas are found in the mountains of western North America, including Alaska and the Yukon, and the mountains and plains of central Asia, including the Himalayan and Ural mountain ranges. The countries they live in include Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Russia, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, and China.

Pikas are found in two distinct habitats. Some live among rocks and rocky areas. Others live in meadows, steppes (semiarid, grass-covered plains), shrubs and desert.

Pikas are herbivores, meaning they eat primarily plants.

Pikas have little economic importance to humans. They are too small to be used as food, although they are sometimes hunted for their fur, particularly in China. Pikas are sometimes considered agricultural pests and killed by farmers.

Four species of pika are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction, dying out, in the wild; four species are listed as Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction; and ten species are listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction. One species, the Sardinian pika is considered Extinct.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammals