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We went up early to photograph these little American Pikas at the top of Trail Ridge road in Rocky Mountain National Park. To me, they are one of the cutest and most hard-working creatures I can think of. This little one was taking a short break from relentless running back and forth, collecting and bringing grasses and flowers to his rocky burrow to prepare for the long, cold winter. He lays them out to dry in the sun before taking them inside.
Doesn’t he look as though he’s chewing on a toothpick?!
Unfortunately, climate change is bringing danger to these pikas. From the National Wildlife Federation:
“The tiny pika, a cousin of the rabbit that lives on mountain peaks in the western United States, is running out of options.
In fact, they have already disappeared from over one-third of their previously known habitat in Oregon and Nevada. Now, the situation is so dire that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the pika for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Because these small mammals have adapted to cold alpine conditions, pikas are intolerant of high temperatures and can die from overheating when exposed for just a few hours.”
Photo take at the top of the highest road in Rocky Mountain National Park at over 12,000 ft in elevation, on August 17, 2017