Pikas are tiny farmers

Written by Alice Weber – Glacier National Park

Level 1

What is a pika?
Pikas are part of the rabbit family.
They are the size of a very large mouse.
Their ears are big and round.
Their legs are short and their tails are very small.

Pikas like rocks
Pikas live in rock piles in the mountains of Glacier National Park.
They are usually found on the sides of the mountains
in rocky places above the trees.
The rocks in the park give the pikas shade from the hot sun.

Pikas can also hide from other animals under the rocks.
These rocks also form tunnels under the snow in winter.
Golden and Revelstoke are two B.C. towns near this park.

Pikas are farmers
Pikas are like farmers.
In summer they collect grass and plants.
They store these plants in hay piles under the rocks.
In winter, they use the hay as food.
They use the hay to make beds, too.

Pikas like to squeak
Pikas call out with a squeak.
They squeak when they are collecting hay.
They squeak when they are scared of other animals.
They squeak to keep other pikas away from their home.
They squeak when they are looking for another pika to mate with.

Natalie studies pikas in Glacier National Park.
Natalie wants to know if pikas eat less
when the weather is hot.
She also wants to know something else.
Do humans in the area change pika behaviour?
If a hiker walks by, do pikas collect less food?

Tiny thermometers
Natalie puts thermometers on rocks and under rocks.
She measures how far pika hay piles are from the trail.
Natalie also measures how long it takes
for a pika to eat after a hiker walks by.