A high-pitched whistle from a rocky pile signals you are looking at a house belonging to the American pika. Nicknamed the “rock rabbit,” the pika is found throughout alpine habitats in the Western states. Although they are related to rabbits and hares, pikas are much smaller in size, with adults the size of tennis balls and babies not much larger than walnuts. Pikas can often be seen scurrying through rocks, stockpiling grass, thistle and other vegetation for food during the long winter months.
Covered year-round in heavy fur, pikas are highly susceptible to overheating. When temperatures climb above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, they can die within hours. As global temperatures rise, pikas are forced to migrate to higher, cooler elevations to survive. However, even the tallest mountains have peaks, and these resourceful rock rabbits may soon run out of habitat if global warming trends continue.
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