I have recently learned more about the cutest animal in the world (sorry Toby the Red Panda, you are still really cute too). It looks like a hamster on steroids or maybe my hamster Chester from when I was 8 (lets just say Chester was not sustained solely on hamster pellets but the occasional slice of cheese pizza as well).
The animal I am referring to also collects and dries wildflowers as if it is running a miniature Bed & Breakfast, and shrieks the noise “Eeep! Eeep!” when distressed. This animal, the cutest animal in the world, is the American Pika.
Sadly, the Pika, is in major trouble people. The culprit? Climate Change. Behind the polar bear, the Pika may be the next poster child for the massive trickle down effects of our warming planet.
The pika, is a lagomorph (in the rabbit family). It is also known as the rock rabbit or whistling hare due to the “eeep!” sound previously discussed. Pikas are native to cold climates mostly in Asia, North America and parts of Eastern Europe. You can find the American version of these fuzzy gems in rocky mountain areas and boulder-covered hillsides, usually at elevations of between 8,000-13,000 feet, between the timberline and down into subalpine forest. It makes its home in rock piles and talus slides.
The Pika was recently spotlighted in a photographic series in National Geographic where they were described as the next victim of climate change. Pikas cannot withstand temperatures over 80 degrees and will perish quite quickly when exposed to these temperatures. They have already vanished from some of their range. They get trapped on what biologists call “sky islands”. As a mountain warms they are not able to go down to lower elevations in search of taller, colder mountains as they will die immediately. Therefore, they are trapped on these sky islands awaiting an unknown and potentially perilous future.
Until someone can come up with a design for a gigantic cooling arctic blast fan to install on the tops of these mountains (not happening) or donating a personal cooling fan for each Pika (not happening), we should try to do more to reduce our carbon footprint, thereby not contributing as much to global emissions & pollutants, and thereby helping to save the Pika!
You can help the Pika by doing these 10 smart things: http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/pdf/10things.pdf.
Take a gander at the cutie below. “Pika…you had me at eep! You had me at eep!”
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