The American pika is a small rodent-like relative to rabbits that has a round body, large, round ears, and is between six and eight inches long. Generally weighing about six ounces, the pika is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day.
Mating first occurs before the snow starts to melt. Females give birth to 2 to 4 offspring, which are weaned in 3 to 4 weeks. After about one month, the offspring leave the mother and grow to adult size after an additional two months. The females may mate again, and may have more than one litter. Pikas eat a variety of plants, including grasses, thistles, sedges, and flowers. The pika is active all year, and stockpiles dried vegetation deep down between rocks for the winter.
They live in between rocks on high elevation boulder and talus slopes, and are very sensitive to high temperatures.
The habitat range of the pika extends from British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, down through the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico. They are also found in the Sierra Nevada Range.
There is concern that some pika populations may be adversely affected by warming temperatures due to global climate change, which decreases the amount of suitable high elevation habitat. However, the pika is not listed as endangered or threatened as of February, 2010. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife report indicates that some pika populations may be able to adapt to higher temperatures.