Pika

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Everyone's favorite — the pika! The Pika lives at high elevations and for a while was the poster child for the negative effects of climate change. It turns out, however, the pika might be more resilient than originally feared.

At first glance, many people think the pika is a type of ground squirrel, but in fact he is in the rabbit family and there are species of pika distributed throughout the world.

The pika can't sweat and regulates its temperature by moving from sun to shade and by living at fairly high altitude. He is a denizen of rock piles with close proximity to the hay that he collects much of the summer and stores up for the winter, using it for both food and insulation. He shares warning calls with other members of the rock pile community when danger approaches, commonly in the form of raptors and weasels. The weasel can squirm through the rock pile, making a feast on pikas through the winter as neither hibernate.

Pika are bold and willing to tolerate other pikas in their territory in the spring, even pikas of the same gender. As they move on towards mid-summer though, they will not tolerate other pikas setting foot within their territory and they will only have overlapping range with their neighbor pikas. If a non-neighbor tries to enter his range, the pika will chase him off. This is because in the spring there is pressure to mate, but as summer wears on, it is more important to store hay and prepare for winter and, as a matter of survival, a pika cannot tolerate a potential hay thief!

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