Species: American pika Scientific Name: Ochotona princeps Current Status: Imperiled but not listed on the Endangered Species Act
Pikas are small, rabbit-like animals that are well-adapted to cold temperatures. The American pika, quite aptly, lives mainly in the mountains of North America.
The American pika has adapted to an extremely narrow set of living conditions. During the winter it relies on snowpack for insulation from sub-freezing air temperatures, and during the summer it avoids overheating by resting in cool spaces found under the rocks in talus and boulder-fields.
These adaptations are great for thriving in environments that are harshly cold for most of the year, but they also make the American pika vulnerable to a warming climate. As climate changes, the American pika is threatened by reductions in snowpack and longer, warmer summers that might change the quality of their forage and reduce the amount of time they can spend foraging in the warmer temperatures above the rocks.
A huge thank you to our Tal-us About Pika partners:
Here are some things you can do to learn more about American pikas:
- “To save climate-sensitive pikas, conservation efforts need to get local,” from NOVA.
- “Pika survival rates dry up with low moisture,” from The Ecological Society of America.
- “American pika,” from Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species
- Adopt a pika! A pika adoption helps fund our pika field research and includes an adorable American pika plush animal and personalized certificate of adoption.
- Sign up to volunteer with the Front Range Pika Project, our citizen science project that studies the effects of climate change on American pika.
- Donate to the Front Range Pika Project to support our pika field research.
- Take the most effective ways to curb climate change interactive quiz to see some solutions.
- Draw an American Pika in 6 Easy Steps! Consider sending it to us and we’ll post it on our social media and share during Endangered Species Day (coming soon).
- Color in your own American pika, and this one too! Consider sending it to us and we’ll post it on our social media and share during Endangered Species Day Parade.
- We had a Pika Power Hour and Ask Me Anything at noon with Jo Varner from Colorado Mesa University and Megan Mueller from Rocky Mountain Wild to discuss the species, its current status, and the citizen science projects that will help us protect this adorable species. Plus, they’ll answered all our participants burning pika-related questions. If you couldn’t make it, here is the recording of the Power Hour:
- “How Climate Change Threatens Pikas,” from Science Friday (listen, 13 minutes)
- “Meet Colorado’s Pikas” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (3 minutes)
- “What Are Pikas Saying” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (2 minutes)
- “Why Pika Population Are Declining” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (3 minutes)
- “How Food Affects Pika Survival in Colorado’s Alpine Areas” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (2 minutes)
- “Scientists in Action: Protecting Pika,” from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (5 minutes)
- “Pikas: Cute Animal, Serious Science,” from Science Podcast for Kids (listen, 17 minutes)
Check out our Colorado Endangered Species Week page for more days of activities!
Feel free to download our American pika card below! Simply right click and save.