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Everything about the Northern Pika
Everything about the Northern Pika
The Japanese Northern Pika

The commonly referred to Northern Pika, Or scientifically the Ochotona hyperborea is a small lagomorph mammal that shares it’s family tree with other mammals like the Hare or Rabbit. The Ochotona genus has 30 known species separated mostly by region of habitation, the Northern Pika preferring mountainous northern regions covered by dense forests or thick vegetation.

More specifically the Ochotona Hyperborea is found in a wide variety of places reaching from the United States near the Rocky Mountains to Northern Japan, Korea, Mongolia and even parts of Russia.When in the summer season the Northern Pika generally shed a thick gray winter coat of fur, typical too many mammals, to a light brownish-red.

The Pika does not hibernate in its winter months and so grows this winter fur to both protect from cold and use as camouflage in the snow as it is particularly vulnerable to predators during the winter. The average Northern Pika varies in size anywhere from 127 millimeters to 186 millimeters.

They do have what would be considered a tail but is very small, as are many lagomorph tails, being only 1 centimeter in length on average. Males and Females of the species are monomorphic like many of its family and thus exceedingly difficult to tell apart without invasive investigation or tests.

The Ochotona family of lagomorphs have small rounded ears much like that of a Bear that are generally as round as they are tall. Their legs are short of their size with their hind legs being slightly shorter than their forelegs, fur sufficiently covering the bottom of their feet.

When it comes to the love-life of the Northern Pika the males have been known to travel 200 meters or more for their love interest. Mating calls are performed by the males to their mates in loud successive declarations of interest. Male and Female Pika often live as a mating pair however males have been known to court as many as 3 female in a single mating season.

Once paired the common gestation period for the Northern Pika is just under a month, being exactly 28 days. Litters of Pika have been known to be as large as nine young, but are more commonly three or four young per birthing. It is still disputed if female yearlings can breed or if they must wait for their second year, however no similar debate is made for males.

Most young leave their natal home in the start of their first summer but it has been known to vary depending on birthing season.The average lifespan of an Ochotona is roughly two years in the wild, Being known to live as long as three years, in captivity though they have been known to live for as long as nine. During their lifetime the Pika claims a territory and guards it aggressively against other Pika.

They gather hay and pile it up in their den as bedding, and sunbath on their back on rocks in the open. While the females stick to their territory for their entire lifespan the males are known to roam in and out of other Pika’s territories for a great many reasons ranging from mating to food. Often having their own specific calls and will not answer to another Pika that calls to them if it is not their offspring or mate.

The Ochotona are herbivores and eat leaves, nuts, grains, flowers and some lichens.This small lagomorph was once used for its fur which was used to create a very high quality felt. It is now no longer economically viable and so they have a place in our hearts as a cute mammal to watch play in the fields as we do Rabbit.

They usually stay out of the way of humans and we seem just fine leaving them to live the life they have in most circumstances. They have no known negative impact on human life and so they aren’t likely to be in any danger any time soon. This editorial was generously written by Alice!
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