Steppe pika (small pika) - an animal belonging to the order rabbit-like, living in semi-desert, forest-steppe and steppe zones.
The ideal habitat for these animals is areas with high vegetation. The habitat of the steppe pikas is relatively small, it covers the territory of southern Russia and Northern Kazakhstan, that is, they inhabit the lands from the Volga to Mongolia.Small pika (Ochotona pusilla).
These animals prefer a flocking lifestyle. They show activity at night. Common insects dig holes with a numerous system of inputs and outputs.
The appearance of a small pika
The animals reach a length of 15-20 centimeters, they weigh from 150 to 280 grams. The ears are small, round, dark brown in color.
The ears are framed by a light border, but on the inside of the auricle there is a dark stripe. The tail is so short that it is impossible to notice. The length of the mustache reaches 5 centimeters.
In summer, the fur color is brownish-gray with light spots, in winter, the fur noticeably brightens, streaks almost disappear, while it becomes thicker. Steppe pikas molt 2 times a year - autumn and spring.The steppe pika is a small hare with short ears.
Behavior and nutrition of small pika
This species consists of 2 subspecies - Asian and European subspecies. European steppe pikas live in the western part of the range to the Urals. The Asian subspecies lives in Kazakhstan and the Asian regions of our country.
Asian representatives of the species are slightly larger in size of their European counterparts, while they have a lighter color. There are also slight differences in the structure of the skull. Other anatomical differences between subspecies are absent.The insects live in groups.
Steppe pikas form flocks or families. Moreover, each family owns its own allotment of land, which is protected from strangers. The family is building a huge network of underground passages.
These animals have temporary and permanent burrows. Temporary are used to quickly hide from the predator, and nesting chambers are built in permanent burrows. These cameras are lined with leaves and grass. Exits from permanent holes mask well between vegetation or stones.
Steppe pikas feed on plant foods: leaves, grass, seeds, fruits, and young shoots. For the winter animals make stocks. Stocks do not stack in holes, but next to the entrance. The larger the family, the greater the quantity of stocks made. Animals collect various types of plants; harvesting begins in July.In winter, pikas dig holes under the snow.
In winter, steppe pikas move under the snow, and they rarely crawl to the surface. In the snow, animals also dig passages, the length of which can reach tens of meters. In addition to reserves, these animals eat dry grass and young bark of shrubs.
Reproduction and longevity
The mating season occurs in May-August. During this time, the female makes 2 litters, each of which contains about 10 babies. Pregnancy lasts 3.5 weeks.The species is listed in the Red Book.
Babies are born blind and completely naked. Eyes open on the 8th day, and the coat appears after a week. The mother feeds the cubs with milk for 3 weeks. At the age of 6 weeks, the offspring becomes an adult. But young animals do not leave their parents until next spring, after this, individuals begin to settle and form their own flocks. The life expectancy of these animals in the wild is 3 years.
The population is low, steppe pikas are listed in the Red Book.