Skip to main content

Some of Us Have Trouble with Spaghetti....

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Seriously, it's no joke that the pika is endangered. This tiny bundle—smaller than a guinea pig—lives mostly in the U.S. northwest and Canada, though it has outposts around the world as well.

The American pika's name, ochotona princeps, is derived from a mixture of the Mongolian word for pika (ochotona) and princeps, which means "chief or prince" in Latin but alludes to a Native American word that translates to “little chief hare,” according to biologist Frank Lang, a blogger for the Crater Lake Institute, a nonprofit center near the lake of the same name in Oregon.

American pikas inhabit high elevations of about 8,000-13,000 feet throughout the North American West, according to Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation, a Buffalo, NY–based group formed "to inspire the next generation of citizens with a love of wildlife and a commitment to conservation." The animals' habitat extends north into Canada through British Columbia, south into southern California and to the eastern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the group says. Pikas live above the montane treeline, between meadowland and rocky terrain.

Although the U.S. government denied granting official "endangered" status to the American pika a year ago, the Center for Biological Diversity explains the ways the pika is indeed in trouble: "Rising temperatures threaten pikas by shortening the period available for them to gather food, changing the types of plants in the alpine meadows where they feed, shrinking the size of alpine meadows, and reducing insulating snowpack that protects them from cold snaps in the winter," the group says on its website.