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American Pika | by shesnuckinfuts
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American Pika

As I was taking pictures of mountain wildflowers, this guy came out of his shelter in the rocks and posed in the sun right in front of me.

American pikas are smaller relatives of hares and rabbits, but have short, round ears. They are grayish-to-brown mammals frequently seen hunched up on boulders of nearly the same color. They have no visible tail and typically measure 6 1/5 to 8 1/2 inches and weigh between 4 and 6 1/3 ounces. American pikas are typically found in rocky areas within alpine regions of the western United States and southwestern Canada. Many hikers, while passing through pika habitat in these rocky areas, have heard these shy creatures call and whistle to each other. They have a loud noise for such a small animal!

Pikas are a small flower-gathering animal. Since food is difficult to obtain in winter in the alpine environment, pikas cut, sun-dry, and later store vegetation for winter use in characteristic 'hay piles.' They are often called 'ecosystem engineers' because of their extensive haying activities.

The American Pika is so specialized to live in cool climates that, if the air temperature reaches above 75 degrees fahrenheit, a pika can die within an hour.

Fortunatly, the pikas live at such a high altitude that the tempreture has never reached that high, until now.

Because of global warming, the level of air that reaches that critical 75 degrees fahrenheit is creeping its way up the slopes, wiping out entire populations of the American Pika every summer.

Please, do your part to combat global warming. Otherwise, this cute, furry creature may no longer have a future.



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Taken on July 4, 2009