Pika, Chris Peterson photoPika, NPS photoPika, NPS photo

Pikas (Ochotona princeps) are one of the few animals able to survive winters in the alpine. Solitary herbivores, they spend the summer months gathering plant materials and storing them under rock enclosures. Known as haystacks, these collections of grasses, sedges, twigs, moss and flowers allow them to endure the harsh climate of the mountains without having to hibernate or go to lower elevations.

The pika’s small size, about 4 inches, allows it to find cover under rocks in talus slopes to avoid predators such as weasels and birds of prey. With grey to brown fur and round ears, they can also blend in with their rocky surroundings.

Highly sensitive to temperatures above 78 degrees Fahrenheit, pika’s are seen as a species highly susceptible to climate change impacts. Research into the species in the Crown of the Continent is currently underway with surveys being made of pika populations.