|by Marcia Malory|
Pikas, also known as coneys, rock rabbits, mouse hares, calling hares or whistling hares, are members of the family Ochotonidae.
They can be found in cold regions of western North America, eastern Europe and Asia.
Most species of pika live in crevices in rocky mountainsides.
Some pika species live in burrows in open steppe land.
Pikas are known for the whistling sounds they make when they are alarmed and when they are courting.
Pikas are very small, weighing between 75 and 290 grams (between about 2 ½ and 10 ounces).
They have long, silky, peppery brown fur.
Pikas have short limbs and rounded ears. They either have very short tails or are tailless.
They eat grasses, herbs, shrubs, flowers, twigs, lichen and moss.
They prepare for the winter by cutting plants and then storing them for the winter in hay piles or haystacks
Pikas are mostly active during the day.
Researchers believe that global warming has led to the demise of some American pika populations.
Pikas have dense fur and therefore have trouble dissipating heat. They may die if exposed to temperatures 78 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
They do not usually live in burrows, so have no way of escaping high temperatures.
Some pikas have tried to move further up mountains where it is cooler, but they have run out of room.
The only other way that pikas can escape is by leaving the mountains and traveling through valleys, which is very risky.