Getting to know an American Pica will be challenging but rewarding.
The American Pica is a very sweet furry animal, closely related to a rabbit.
You will need to climb up a rocky trail to find the American pica.
The American pica is found on the rocky slopes of the mountains in Western North America.
You can find the American pica from Central British Columbia to South Central California.
They are also found as far east as Colorado. They live in boulder fields above the tree line. That is very high up.
The American pica is a small mammal.
It is about the size of a hamster with small round ears and long whiskers. The pica’s fur is brown or gray and it’s tail is hidden under the thick fur.
It has an egg-shaped body and is a buff color underneath.
The pica is a very small animal and measures between 162 and 216 millimetres (6 – 8ins). This cute little creature only weighs about 100g or 3.5ozs.
The American pica lives with other pica in colonies on the sides of rocky mountain slopes.
Although they live near each other they do not like to share their burrows.
They scent mark the area round their burrow and call to each other making little squeaking sounds.
They like to eat herbs and grasses found on the rocky slopes.
The American pica spends the summer collecting and drying out the grasses and flowers he finds. When they are dry he takes them into his burrow.
He stores them in cracks in the rocks ready for use in the winter. This activity is called ‘haying.’ When they are out eating it is known as foraging.
The American pica has two litters of babies every year.
The first litter arrives in spring and the second in summer.
The mother pica is pregnant for thirty days. The babies depend on their mother for eighteen days.
They reach maturity in just three months. The baby American pica is called a kit. There can be between two to six babies in a litter.
The American pica is a very active little animal. He is busy all through the year.
The American pica makes squeaky noises to communicate with the others.
If there is danger around then the pica bark to warn one another. If they sense a weasel or other enemy is close by they keep very quiet.
The American pic likes to live in places that are not easy to reach and that makes catching the pica more difficult.
Weasels, coyotes, martens and stoats are their natural enemies.
However, the greatest danger to the American pica is global warming and climate change.
The American pica can not survive in very hot weather. He already lives in very high places, he can not go any higher to reach cooler places.
The American pica makes a small contribution to nature through gathering grasses and flowers that will dry in the summer. This helps to spread the seeds.
The bundles of dried grasses are carried into the rocks and cracks on the mountain slopes.
1.The American pica can change the color of its coat to be dark brown and like the rocks where it hides. In summer the pica’s coat is lighter. The fur is very thick in winter for warmth and not so thick in summer.
2.Each American pica carries up to sixty pounds of dried grass and flowers into its burrow.
3.The American pica live for about 6 – 7 years.
4.The sharp squealing noise they make has given them the nickname of ‘The Whistling Hare.’
5.The American pica is one of the toughest animals in the United States. It can survive in very difficult alpine terrain.
Haying: the act of collecting, drying and storing grasses and flowers for winter.
Foraging: animals go out from their burrow and look for food to eat.
Tree line: the point at which trees stop growing and the ground becomes rocky and only suited to small bushes and grasses.
1.What animal is the pica closely related to?
The American pica is a close relative of the rabbit and the hare family.
2.When the pica stores its food what is this known as?
The storing of food for the winter is known as haying.
3.Why is the American pica thought to be so tough?
The American pica is tough because of the high rocky places it lives in where not many animals are able to live.
4.What is one of the biggest threats to the survival of the American pica.
The American pica is not able to survive in very warm climates. The increase in temperature caused by global warming is a threat to the existence of the American pica.
5.What is a baby American pica called?
A baby American pica is called a kit.