American pika

Ochotona princeps

TAXONOMY

Ochotona princeps (Richardson, 1828), Rocky Mountains, Canada. Thirty-six subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Cony, whistling hare, rock rabbit.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Moderate sized, with short ears and egg shaped body. Body is 6 to 8.5 in (162-216 mm). Buffy pelage; it lacks the grayish collar and the white ventral pelage found on the only other North American pika (the collared pika).

DISTRIBUTION

Found primarily at high elevations throughout the intermontane west of North America. Many of the 36 subspecies correspond to populations from isolated mountain ranges.

HABITAT

A characteristic rock-dwelling species.

BEHAVIOR

Males and females defend individual territories of approximately equal size. These territories are relatively large, and normally only about six animals will occupy 1 acre (15 per ha).

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Generalized herbivores.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Rock-dwelling pikas produce few young each year (normally only two or three offspring), but normally only two are weaned successfully. They mate early in the spring. All adult females initiate two small litters during each short summer season. If the first litter is successful, then the second litter is abandoned. If the first is claimed by a weasel or lost because the female was in poor physiological condition coming out of the long winter, then the second litter as a back up is produced. Gestation is approximately 30 days, and young normally become surface active about a month after parturition.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Several isolated subspecies are considered Vulnerable to extinction.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

0 0

Post a comment