Why pikas?

Learn more about this adorable alpine animal…
and why it needs our help!

All about pikas

If you’ve spent time in Colorado’s high country, chances are good you’ve either heard or seen an American pika (Ochotona princeps ). Originally from the central Asian steppes, these potato-sized mammals migrated across the Bering Land Bridge and have been calling North America home for the past several million years. Nowadays, American pikas can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains between northern New Mexico and central British Columbia. Populations are also present in the Great Basin and from California’s Sierra Nevada north to the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.

In Colorado, American pikas are often easiest to spot in talus – fields and slopes of broken rock – above treeline, or approximately 8,000’ in elevation. Keep your eyes open for grayish-brown critters with large ears and no tails in sight (more about that below). They’ll often be scurrying between the rocks or taking in the view from a particularly prominent perch. Even if you don’t spot one, you’ll likely hear them: they have a distinctive squeaky  Eep! call that’s particularly loud for such a tiny animal!

Click here to listen to an American pika call!

American pika, courtesy of Mike Molloy

Click on the arrows below for more pika facts!

An alpine rabbit relation

Pikas and climate change


Making a mountain living


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Photo Credits:

Lauren Buchholz

Mike Molloy