Craters Of The Moon National Monument and Preserve America Pika

America Pika - Rocky Mountain PBS America pikas ( Ochotona princeps ) are small rodent-like mammals closely related to rabbits. Their small rounded ears and short tailless bodies remind many observers of small guinea pigs. The pika's squat body (7 to 8 inches in length) is brownish gray with long whiskers. Unlike rabbits their legs are of equal size and they run rather than hop.

Usually found among rock outcrops and talus slopes high in alpine mountains, pikas also make their home among the Craters of the Moon lava fields. Often heard before they are seen, pikas are very vocal and their high-pitched whistles can frequently be heard along the North Crater Flow Trail. If you spot one just sit quietly and they will often proceed about their business paying you no mind.

Pikas gather bundles of plant material that they cache in underground dens to store and dry for winter feeding. During the winter they leave their dens to burrow under the snow in search of buried plants. Pikas use the insulating properties of snow to protect themselves from winter cold and avoid summer heat among the many rock cavities. During summer pika inhabitating the lava flows are most active during the early morning and late evening hours to avoid the heat of the day. The Craters of the Moon lava fields are among the lowest elevation (6,000 feet above sea level) areas pikas inhabit.

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