Afghan pika

Ochotona rufescens

TAXONOMY

Ochotona rufescens (Gray, 1842), Kabul, Afghanistan. Two subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

During summer, it possesses a cream-colored collar that is outlined with russet pelage. Size and weight not available.

DISTRIBUTION

Patchily distributed in the mountains of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

HABITAT

Another intermediate species one that has a tendency to live in rocks, but also constructs burrows. Unlike most alpine pikas,

I Ochotona pusilla I Ochotona rufescens the Afghan pika may occupy landscapes that are significantly more xeric (dry).

BEHAVIOR

Its life history characteristics mimic those of the true burrowing forms. It lives in family groups at medium-high densities (up to 30 animals per acre [70/ha]), but it does not have a well-developed vocal repertoire.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Known to eat thistles and other xeric plants. They make large hay piles, but normally collect these stores twice per year (in spring before the vegetation dries up and again in fall when the vegetation is revived by seasonal rains).

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Have a high rate of reproduction; females may produce up to five litters in an extended breeding season, and litter sizes may contain as many as 11 young. Mating system may vary yearly depending on populations of local territories.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Considered a threat to agricultural crops and orchards throughout much of its range, and as a consequence has been subject to control programs. ♦

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