Those Who Study, Protect and Enjoy Pikas

Pika Fan Club of Japan Protects Ochotona Hyperborea Yesoensis

The pikas (called nakiusagi) on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido are loved and protected by the Pika Fan Club headquartered in Sapporo. The club's Web site is in Japanese, but it is fairly easy to find the pika pictures on it Pika Fan Club.

One of the Fan Club's founders, Toshimi Ichikawa (pictured at right), has provided a story about Japan's pikas for Pika Works. It was told to her by the Little Pika of Hokkaido. Toshimi and her husband Morihiro are currently living in Boulder, Colorado pursuing studies in environmental law and conservation biology to enhance their ability to help protect the pikas and wild areas of Japan.

Two other members of the Pika Fan Club have web sites to visit. One is Yumiko Enda, who with several friends, hand sews stuffed toy pikas for the Fan Club. Visit her Nakki site. The other member is Mr. Chihiro Nakamura whose clever site called Garaba has unfortunately become unlinked.

The lives of all the animals that live on Hokkaido including the pika in his high mountain home were beautifully portrayed in a NOVA program called "Island of the Spirits" that aired on PBS in October 1999. Information about the program is still available at the PBS site.

Daurian Pika studied by Dr. Takaaki Matsumoto.

Studies of Afghan and Daurian Pikas by Dr. Takaaki Matsumoto

The Afghan and Daurian pikas have been studied by Takaaki Matsumoto, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Second Department of Physiology at Aichi Medical University in Japan. The body heat mechanisms of the pikas are his main interest in them. Apparently pikas do not have a good way to regulate their temperature and are prone to overheating. On the flip side, they are able to stay warm in the harshest cold weather. Pikas are almost totally covered with fur from head to toe. See Dr. Matsumoto's Web Pages for some great pictures including pikas of Hokkaido taken in 1999.

Andrew Smith and Colleagues at Arizona State University Study How Pikas Survive in Isolated Populations

Andrew Smith, Ph.D. (pictured at right) is a population biologist who has been studying the pikas near the ghost town of Bodie, California for more than 30 years. During the late 1990's he and colleagues, John Nagy, Ph.D. and doctoral student John Frisch have led Earthwatch research expeditions to this site to better understand how the pikas manage to survive on their tiny rock islands that are the ore dumps from abandoned mines. The mechanisms pikas use may help biologists figure out ways to protect and support other animals in the world whose well-being is threatened by encroachments of civilization into their territories.

Dr. Smith has also studied the Black-lipped pikas of the Tibetan Plateau and is one of the relatively small group of pika specialists in the world. His research on Chinese pikas was written up in the China Daily Paper. He is the Chair of the Lagomorph Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC).

Fossils of Extinct Pikas Found on Corsica

Several years ago a young French student stumbled upon and became fascinated with the prehistoric Corsican pika which lived until the 5th century in Corsica and the 18th century in Sardinia. The student put together a comprehensive guide to all the pikas from scientific information to the latest photos taken by people all over the world. The site was available in French, English and Japanese. Sadly, the site disappeared. Perhaps it will pop up another year.

The Pika Project: Learn all about Rock Rabbits and their Habits

Who studies pikas? Perhaps YOU do. You can participate in the Pika Project, a long-term study of pika distribution and genetics in the 'sky islands' of the Great Basin. This project is sponsored by the Bristlecone Institute for Ecological Research and funded by public participation in research expeditions. Pika Project expeditions are led by Chris Ray, Ph.D., a population biologist with the University of Nevada who has studied pikas throughout the Western states for the last twelve years. Expeditions will take you to remote heights in the Great Basin, mapping pika habitat, recording their vocalizations and collecting genetic samples through live-trapping.

Center for Biological Diversity
Protecting endangered species and wild places.

Other Scientific Resources

If you would like to found out more details about pikas, you will need to look up or tunnel to any of these good sources.

Smith, A.T., A.N. Formozov, R.S. Hoffmann, Zheng Changlin and M.A. Erbajeva. 1990. The pikas. pp. 14-60. In: Rabbits, hares and pikas: Status survey and conservation action plan. J.A. Chapman and J.E.C. Flux, editors. IUCN/WWF.

National Museum of Natural History's database of Mammal Species of the World is found at http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw.

University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web that contains complete information on the biology and anatomy of the pikas is found at http://www.oit.itd.umich.edu/projects/ADW.


"Pika, Pika" by Walkin' Jim Stoltz may be the only pika song in the world. It perfectly captures the pika personality. A clip from the song may be heard here, with Walkin' Jim's permission, and in several other places throughout our site. For the whole tune and many more in Stoltz's "A Kid for the Wild" and other cd's, check out Walkin' Jim Stoltz.

This music is available via RealPlayer. If that is one thing not yet on your computer, you will find a free download at the Real.com site. Look carefully at the bottom of their home page.

General Interest Articles, Books & Videos

Madson, Chris. 1977. Haymaker. Wyoming Wildlife, December, pp. 24 -31.

Author Madson is Editor of Wyoming Wildlife. He starts off his essay, "There is among residents of Wyoming a certain quiet pride in being a 'native.' Tourists and fair-weather householders flock to the high country to escape the rigors of summer at lower elevations, then with the first hard freeze, they flock home again. Left behind are a few hardy souls who appreciate the Wyoming landscape in all its moods, from the sun-drenched hospitality of an alpine August to the ice-edged ferocity of a January blizzard. And, among those dedicated natives, few are any tougher or more resourceful than the tiny resident of the talus, the pika."

Mitchell, Finis. 1975. Wind River Trails (A hiking and fishing guide to the many trails and lakes of the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Wasatch Publishers, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah.

Plage, Dieter and Mary Plage. Rocky Mountain High. A Wildlife Video produced by Survival Anglia, Ltd. in cooperation with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association. The video is available from the the Rocky Mountain Nature Association's Bookstore. As of January '04, It does not appear on their web site, but it is Item Number 322370, costs $14.95 plus $4 shipping, and may possibly still be obtained by calling 1-800-816-7662.

"This video portrays the remarkable adaptability of the pika, the Yellow-Bellied Marmot, bighorn sheep and mountain goats in one of the harshest climates on earth."

Plumb, Sally. 1994. A Pika's Tail (A Children's Story about Mountain Wildlife). Grand Teton Natural History Association, Moose, Wyoming.

Smith, A.T. and Weston, M.L. 1990. Ochotona princeps. Mammalian Species, 352:1-8.

Smith, Andrew. 1997. The Art of Making Hay. National Wildlife, April/May, pp 31-35. Author Smith describes how, "As scientists have learned from the pika, collecting and storing food for winter can be a surprisingly complicated chore."

Udall, James R. 1991, The Pika Hunter, Audubon, pp. 61-71. Author Udall describes Dave Hafner's research to uncover the mystery of "How did these boreal mammals come to be stranded atop mountains in the middle of blistering deserts?" Hafner is the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and one of a small group of scientists who study pikas.

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