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Living OrganismsAnimalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Lagomorpha / Ochotonidae / Ochotona / Species

Ochotona pallasi - Pallas's pika (Click photographs/illustrations for full picture & further details)

 

INDEX - INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

APPEARANCE / MORPHOLOGY

LIFE STAGES / NATURAL DIET / PHYSIOLOGY

BEHAVIOUR

HABITAT & RANGE

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information
  • Ochotona pricei was the name used for this pika in the older literature. "Recent treatments now use the senior name, pallasi, pricei being the junior synonym of the species epithet, but a valid subspecies name". (B605.3.w3)
  • This pika has also been given the specific names of:
    • Ochotona hamica
    • Ochotona ogotona
    • Ochotona opaca
    • Ochotona pricei
    • Ochotona sunidica.

    (B607.w20)

General pika information
  • The name pika originated from the Tungus of Siberia who attempted to mimic the call "peeka" of the local pika species. (B285.w5g)
  • The generic name of Ochotona is derived from the Mongolian name for pikas: "ogdoi". (B285.w5g)
  • Mouse hares or conies are alternative names for pikas. (B147)
  • "Pishchukha" is the Russian common name for all species of pika and some gerbils (Rhombomys opimus, Meriones tamareiscinus (Muridae - (Family)). (B605.3.w3)

Names for new-borns / juveniles

--

Names for males

--

Names for females

--

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General Appearance

Adult: 

General pika information

  • Pikas are small, egg shaped, rodent-like lagomorphs which weigh under 500 g. They have rounded, relatively large ears, short legs, and a very short tail which is hardly visible. (B285.w5g)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi is a fairly large, pale pika. (B605.3.w3)

Newborn:

General pika information

  • Newborn pikas are helpless and naked (B147, B287) or slightly furred. (B287)

Similar Species

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

Ochotona pallasi can be distinguished from other similar species by its diploid chromosome number of 38 and the following morphological characteristics:

(B605.3.w3)

Sexual Dimorphism

General pika information
  • Male and female pikas are similar in size and can be difficult to tell apart from one another. (B147)

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References

Species Authors & Referees

Editor: Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103)

ORGANISATIONS

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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Husbandry Information

Notes

  • --

Management Techniques

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Notes

  • Pikas are small mammals. (B285.w5g) 

  • Ochotona pallasi is a fairly large pika. (B605.3.w3)
General pika information

LENGTH
Adult:

General pika information

  • Pikas measure 120-300 mm. 
    • 120-285 mm. (B285.w5g)
    • 125-300 mm, with most species averaging around 200 mm or less. (B147)
  • Males and females are similar in size. (B147)

Newborns: --

HEIGHT
Adults and sub-adults: --
Juveniles: --

WEIGHT
Adult:

General pika information

  • Pikas weigh 50-400 g
    • 50-350 g. (B285.w5g)
    • 125-400 g. (B147)

Newborns:

General pika information 

  • Newborn pikas weigh about 9 g. (B147)
    • Range 4.1 - 12.7 g, depending on species. (B287)

GROWTH RATE:--

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Head and Neck

Notes

GENERAL HEAD STRUCTURE:

Adult:

Skull

General pika information

  • In general, the head of pikas is blunt and short, and the skull is quite flattened rather than arched. There is also a constriction between the orbits. (B147)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • The skull of Ochotona pallasi is moderately large and somewhat arched. It has an extremely narrow interorbital region and relatively large tympanic bullae. (B605.3.w3)
  • There are no frontal fenestrae and there is complete separation of the incisive and palatine foramina. (B605.3.w3)
Ears:
  • General pika information: Pikas have small, rounded ears which are 12-36 mm in length. (B147; B285.w5g)
Nostrils:
  • General pika information: Pikas can completely close their nostrils. (B147)
Vibrissae:
  • General pika information: These are shorter in burrowing pikas, than in rock dwelling pikas. (B605.3.w3)
Newborn: --

DENTITION

General pika information
  • There are 26 teeth in total - two less than other lagomorphs who have one more upper molar on each side. (B285.w5a, B605.1.w1)
  • The dental formula of pikas is 2/1 incisors, 0/0 canines, 3/2 premolars, and 2/3 molars. (B147, B605.1.w1)

Incisors

  • Lagomorphs, including pikas, differ from rodents by having two pairs of upper incisors rather than just the one pair. The additional set of incisors are called peg teeth and are found directly behind the long pair in the upper jaw. (B147, B285.w5a, B605.1.w1)
  • At birth, lagomorphs actually have three pairs of upper incisors, but they quickly lose the outer incisor on each side. (B147)
  • The incisors are covered completely by enamel. (B147)
  • The upper incisors' roots are found in the skull's premaxillary bones. However, the length of the lower incisors' roots varies. (B147)
    • [Note: lagomorphs have teeth which grow throughout their lives. For this reason the portion of the teeth which is not exposed (not above the gum line) is strictly speaking not a "root"; however, it is sometimes convenient to describe it as a root.]
  • The first upper incisors have a cutting edge which is V-shaped. (B147)
  • The peg teeth lack a cutting edge. (B147)

Molars

  • Pikas have high crowned cheek teeth with no roots [the teeth grow continuously throughout life]. (B147)
  • The lower tooth rows are closer together than the upper tooth rows. (B147)

EYES:

General pika information

  • Adult: Pikas have eyes positioned to give a broad field of vision (B285.w5a)
  • Newborn: Neonates are blind; the eyes open at eight to ten days. (B287)

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Legs, Spine and Tracks

Notes

General pika information
  • Pikas have short legs. (B285.w5g)
  • The hindlimbs are just slightly longer than the forelimbs. (B147, B430.w2, B605.2.w2)
  • They have five digits on each foot. (B147)
  • The feet are heavily furred on the underside. (B147)
  • In burrowing pikas, the claws are more straight and powerful than those of the rock dwelling pikas. Ochotona pallasi has a habitat that is intermediate between rock dwelling and burrowing pikas. (B605.3.w3)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • The toe pads of Ochotona pallasi are bare and black. (B605.3.w3)

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Tail

Notes

General pika information
  • The tail of pikas is virtually absent at a length of 5 mm (B285.w5g); it is not visible. (B147; B430.w2)

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Skin / Coat / Pelage

Notes

Adult: 

General pika information
  • Fine, long, soft and dense coat with fur that covers the feet including the under surface. (B147, B285.w5g)
  • Most pikas are lighter ventrally than dorsally. (B285.w5g)
  • Most species have two moults per year with a brighter summer coat - often a yellowish red - and a greyer winter coat. (B147)
Specific Ochotona pallasi information
  • This is a pale pika. 
  • Summer coat 
    • Dorsal surface: uniformly sandy buff in colour.
    • Ventral surface: "marked by only the faintest suggestion of a buffy wash".
  • Winter coat 
    • Head and body: pale grey.
    • Hindquarters: slightly brighter than the head and body with a buffy tint.

(B605.3.w3)

Adult Colour variations:--

Newborn/Juvenile:

General pika information

  • Newborn pikas are hairless (B147, B287) or slightly furred. (B287)

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Notes

Ochotona spp. general information:
  • Mammary glands:
    • Females have four or six mammary glands. (B147)
  • Female reproductive tract:
    • The uterus is duplex. The placenta is discoid, deciduate and hemochorial,with a mesometrial, superficial implantation. (B287)
  • Male reproductive tract:
    • Testes:
      • The testes are intra-abdominal outside the breeding season. (B147, B287)
      • During the breeding season they are found in folds of skin at the base of the penis. (B147)
    • Penis:
  • Scent glands: Pikas have scent glands, as do all lagomorphs. (B285.w5a)

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Life Stages

Notes

  • This species is reported to be intermediate in its habitat use (they burrow as well as living among rocks). (B147, B285.w5g, B605.3.w3) However, their life history is closer to that of the burrowing pikas. (B285.w5g)

The fecundity rate of Ochotona pallasi is high. (B605.3.w3)

BREEDING SEASON:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • The breeding season of Ochotona pallasi generally lasts from April to August. (B605.3.w3)

    • Ochotona pallasi pallasi is reported to reproduce from early April until May or June. (B605.3.w3) 

OESTRUS/OVULATION:

General pika information

GESTATION/PREGNANCY:

General pika information

  • Pikas have a short gestation period. (B285.w5a)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi have a gestation period of around 25 days. (B287; B605.3.w3)
  • Embryo resorption may occur if the pika encounters adverse conditions. (B285.w5a)

PARTURITION BIRTH:

  • The birth season in this species is reported to be end of May - July in Coney, Gobi, Mongolia. (B287)

NEONATAL / DEVELOPMENT: 

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Den emergence: at 15 days of age. (B287)
  • Onto solid food: at 18 to 20 days of age. (B287)
  • Weaned: at 20 - 22 days of age. (B287)

LITTER SIZE:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • The litter size of this species has been reported as one to twelve. (B147)
  • The litter size of juvenile Ochotona pallasi (range of three to seven young per litter with a mean average of 5) are smaller than those of adults. 
  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi- reports of litter size in this subspecies are as follows:
    • a mean average of 7.5 (1965, 1966).
    • a mean average of 8, with a range of two to thirteen. (1980)
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei- reports of litter size in this subspecies are as follows:
    • one to twelve (1968).
    • one to ten with a mean average of 6.5 (1974).

(B605.3.w3)

TIME BETWEEN LITTERS / LITTERS PER YEAR: 

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • This species is reported to have two to three litters per year. (B147; B287)
  • Ochotona pallasi produces several litters per year. (B605.3.w3)
    • Ochotona pallasi pallasi: all adult females will breed at least twice. However, the occurrence of third litters is variable. (B605.3.w3)

LACTATION / MILK PRODUCTION:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Young pikas are weaned at 20 - 22 days of age. (B287)

SEXUAL MATURITY:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Juveniles that are born in the first litters of the breeding season may reproduce in their summer of birth (B147; B287; B605.3.w3).
  • Both sexes reach sexual maturity at 25 to 30 days of age. (B287)

MALE SEASONAL VARIATION:

General pika information

  • The testes are intra-abdominal outside the breeding season; during the breeding season they are found in folds of skin at the base of the penis (in lagomorphs, the testes are in front of the penis). (B147)

LONGEVITY / MORTALITY:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

Ochotona pallasi is reported to be relatively long-lived. (B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi
    • In one report natural mortality was about 50% per year, maximum longevity was four years, and 20% of the summer population was comprised of two-year-old animals. Young pikas of this subspecies have been reported to be more numerous than those in Ochotona pusilla - Steppe pika populations. (B605.3.w3)
  • General pika information
    • There is usually high mortality as pikas are prey for many mammals and birds. (B285.w5a)
General pika information
  • There is usually high mortality as pikas are prey for many mammals and birds. (B285.w5a)

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Natural Diet

Notes

NATURAL DIET:

  • Pikas are herbivorous - they eat grasses, flowering stalks, and leaves. Pikas have a preference for those plants highest in protein or other chemicals important to them. (B285.w5g)

  • Pikas eat a range of vegetable matter: "in the summer and early autumn the animals gather grasses, sedges, weeds, and many of the large flowering and woody plants, sometimes climbing a few meters up in trees and out on limbs to cut twigs. The material is sometimes place in exposed locations for curing by the sun"; many populations create haystacks to store food for winter. (B147)

QUANTITY EATEN: --

STUDY METHODS: --

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Hibernation / Aestivation

Notes

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Haematology / Biochemistry

Notes

HAEMATOLOGY: --

BIOCHEMISTRY: --

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in WILDPro)

Notes

METABOLISM (TEMPERATURE):

General pika information

  • Pikas have a high body temperature. (B285.w5g)

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM (RESPIRATION): --

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM (PULSE/HEART RATE): --

GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM (FAECES AND GUT MOTILITY):

General pika information

  • Jaw motion: Pikas have a vertical or transverse jaw motion. (B147); pikas use a side-to-side jaw motion. (B285.w5g)
  • Coprophagy: Pikas produce two types of faeces, hard faeces like pepper seeds - small green spherical pellets - which are passed during the day; and soft faeces, sticky and dark green/black, passed at night. Faeces of the latter type have high a energy value and B vitamin levels, and are re-ingested. This behaviour, known as coprophagy, may have a similar function to the ruminant behaviour of chewing the cud. (B147, B285.w5a)

URINARY SYSTEM (URINE): --

CHROMOSOMES:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

The diploid chromosome number in Ochotona pallasi is 38. (B605.3.w3)

MUSCULO-SKELETAL SYSTEM: --

SPECIAL SENSES AND VOCALISATIONS:

General pika information

  • Pikas are known to be more vocal than other lagomorphs. (B285.w5a)
  • The vocalisations of Ochotona pallasi pallasi and Ochotona pallasi pricei differ greatly. The main difference is that Ochotona pallasi pallasi has a song or long call but Ochotona pallasi pricei does not. This long call is a fast trill that is uttered by both sexes. "Alarm calls of these subspecies also vary in their dynamic spectrum of frequency". (B605.3.w3)

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Notes

General pika information
  • Pikas are unable to grasp plants with their forepaws; they eat with a side-to-side jaw motion and carry vegetation in their mouths. (B285.w5g)
Haying and foraging 
  • In spring, summer and/or autumn (fall) (depending on species/location) many pika species spend much time "haying" - harvesting mouthfuls of vegetation which are carried back to the den for storage. They build up these stores, resembling piles of hay, and use them for consumption during periods of sparse vegetation, often over-harvesting so that it is a rare occurrence for them to run out of food. (B285.w5g, B605.3.w3) 
  • Pika species living in areas where winter snow is common may also make tunnels in the snow to reach and harvest any nearby vegetation. (B285.w5g)
  • Some species continue to forage throughout winter rather than haying, because snows are uncommon. (B285.w5g)
  • Even at a fairly low population density of ten to twelve pikas per hectare, vegetation storage by pikas may be up to 30 kg per hectare. (B605.3.w3)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi make relatively large haypiles (80 to 100 cm high) on the ground over the burrow entrances. (B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei is also reported to build a large haypile. (B605.3.w3)

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Parental Behaviour

Notes

This pika is considered an intermediate species between rock-dwelling and burrowing pikas.

General pika information

  • In the burrowing pikas, the young may form a line behind an adult, usually their father, and follow. (B285.w5g)

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality / Predation / Learning

Notes

Specific Ochotona pallasi information
Population density
  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi
    • Population densities of this subspecies may vary significantly and reach levels as high as 100 pikas per hectare. (B147; B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei
    • This subspecies may also attain high population densities. However, their numbers have been significantly reduced in one particular case where there was a large population of ground squirrels, Spermophilus alaschanicus, (Sciuridae) which significantly overgrazed the area. (B605.3.w3)
Social behaviour and territoriality

There are significant behavioural differences between Ochotona pallasi pallasi and Ochotona pallasi pricei.

  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi
    • During the summer, the territory of males includes territories of up to six females. The mean average size of the home range of males is 5200m² which is six times larger than the mean average home range of females (800m²).
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei
    • The social organisation of this subspecies during the mating season is similar to that of Ochotona pallasi pallasi and their sexual behaviour is primarily polygynous. Most individuals stay close to their burrows. 

(B605.3.w3)

Aggression
  • Males may show high levels of intrasexual aggression, even though their burrows can be separated by three to four metres. (B147; B605.3.w3)
  • When an individual trespasses onto the territory of a neighbour it may be killed by the bites that are inflicted by the occupant. (B147; B605.3.w3) The typical aggressive interactions involve boxing and chases. Boxing may last for as long as three to fifteen seconds per bout. This is in contrast to the duration of boxing bouts in other forms (Ochotona pallasi pallasi, Ochotona dauurica - Daurian pika, Ochotona pusilla - Steppe pika, Ochotona hyperborea - Northern pika) which is often only around one second (just a short push). In Ochotona pallasi pricei, aggressive relationships are ten times more frequent in than in Ochotona pallasi pallasi. (B605.3.w3)
  • However, play behaviour has been observed as a basic part of juvenile activity with young pikas often boxing with one another. The duration of these bouts of boxing are similar to those of Ochotona rufescens - Afghan pika. (B605.3.w3)
  • Male and female pikas that share home ranges rarely show aggression and the adults will tolerate juvenile pikas in their burrows even if they have another brood (Ochotona pallasi pallasi). (B605.3.w3)
  • Juveniles may be chased out of their parents' burrow system when they become sexually mature. This behaviour coincides with the division into separate territories of females and males following the breeding season (Ochotona pallasi pricei). For example, the mean area of territories in August is 403 metres² in comparison to the smaller territories found in January: 129 metres² (when the snow depth is from 3 to 4 cm deep) to 9 metres (when the snow depth is from 15 to 40 cm deep). Home ranges of Ochotona pallasi pricei decrease when the population density increases. (B605.3.w3)
  • A male Ochotona pallasi pallasi regularly cruises throughout its home territory. In meetings with female pikas, they utter soft quiet trills. Male and female pikas avoid direct contact. The male and female are reported to have separate core areas of their respective home territories and also separate stores of food. The male will protect its core area from females, but the core areas of females may be visited by males who often steal from their stores. (B605.3.w3)
  • Scent marking of territories
    • Both Ochotona pallasi pallasi and Ochotona pallasi pricei mark their home territories by rubbing their neck gland on the corners of stones and also by urinating on piles of their hard pellets. Ochotona pallasi pricei construct small pyramids from sticky faecal pellets, close to the lateral entrance of the burrow, their territory borders and areas of frequent conflict. However, Ochotona pallasi pallasi marks its entire home range. (B605.3.w3)
  • In late summer and autumn, Ochotona pallasi pricei collects stones and stores them in piles. The mean weight of these stones is 45 grams (range of 5 to 170 grams). The stones are used by the pikas to close some of their burrow entrances before the onset of winter. (B605.3.w3)

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Sexual Behaviour

Notes

General pika information
  • In general, it appears that pikas are monogamous. (B285.w5g, B605.3.w3)
  • In burrowing pikas the mating system may be flexible: monogamous, polygynous, complex (several male and female), and polyandrous adult associations have been observed side by side. This last relationship is rare in mammals, but in the pika “two males from the same burrow may be seen alternately mating with the resident female and then sitting side by side or grooming one another, even while the female is in estrus - apparently an adaptation to maximize reproductive rates in face of harsh environmental conditions.” (B285.w5g)

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Activity Patterns, Self-grooming and Navigation

Notes

ACTIVITY PATTERNS: 

General pika information

  • Pikas are agile and lively. (B285.w5g)

SELF-GROOMING: --

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM:

General pika information
  • Mainly active by day. Pikas are well-adapted to the cold and sensitive to even moderately warm conditions, therefore they tend to be active only during the cooler parts of the day. (B285.w5g)
  • Pikas may be active at all hours, in particular, early morning and evenings. It seems that they are less active on sunny days compared with cloudy days. (B147)
  • Pikas which live at high altitudes may be active all day, whereas pikas at warmer, lower altitudes emerge only in the morning and evening. (B285.w5g)

SPEED OF MOVEMENT: --

NAVIGATION: --

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Notes

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

Ochotona pallasi may be found in either open desert or rocky areas. There are distinct differences in habitat between the various subspecies:

  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi- almost all populations of this subspecies live in rocky situations.
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei- usually found in arid steppe environments where it either burrows or lives in rocks.
  • Ochotona pallasi sunidica- inhabits cracks in rocks.

(B605.3.w3)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

Notes

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • The habitat preference for Ochotona pallasi is intermediate between burrowing and rock-dwelling pikas; it may be found in either open desert or rocky areas. This species typically burrows in steep cliff faces. (B605.3.w3)
  • This species lives primarily in rocks and talus but may also sometimes use burrows in open country. (B147)
  • This species is reported to be intermediate in its habitat use (they burrow but also sometimes live among rocks). However their life history is closer to that of the burrowing pikas. (B285.w5g)
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei builds burrows with many entrances; in one location the average number of entrances was 28, with 80 entrances being the maximum reported. Many of these holes are the abandoned burrows of Marmota sibirica (Sciuridae). (B605.3.w3)

General pika information

  • Burrowing pikas dig burrows in open alpine meadow, semi desert or steppe environments. (B285.w5g)
  • Rock dwelling pikas nest among rocks or fallen logs. (B285.w5g)
  • It is common for burrows to be shared with birds or small mammals. (B605.3.w3)

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Notes

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi has a discontinuous distribution in arid areas (mountains and high steppes) in Kazakhstan; the Altai Mountains, Tuva (Russia), and Mongolia, to Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia (China). (B285.w5i, B607.w20)

  • "Distributed discontinuously throughout the Gobi Desert region from Kazakh SSR, Tuva ASSR, Soviet Union; Mongolian People's Republic; western Xinjiang, Nei Monggol, China. The range of Pallas's pika is broken by more disjunctions than are seen in other species of burrowing pikas". (B605.3.w3)

Ochotona pallasi hamica

  • This subspecies inhabits isolated mountains in the Gobi desert; "in the Karlik Shan north of Hami, Xinjiang, China and perhaps southern Mongolia"
  • There have not been any records from its Karlik Shan locality in Xinjiang, China, for over fifty years. 
  • Tsagaan Bogd Uul: "The range of the subspecies hamica in the Tsagaan Bogd Uul (Mountains) (Mongolian People's Republic) is enigmatic". This pika has not been collected in this area "in historical time", although in 1979 pika calls were reportedly heard and fresh scats observed in this location.
  • Atas Bogd Uul, Mongolia: hamica may be currently found in this location. One pika was reportedly caught there in 1943 and there was apparently a reasonable pika population at the top of the mountains. However, there is also a report of no pikas being found there in the summer of 1988. 
  • Scientists of the Great Gobi Biosphere Reserve have apparently never recorded pikas throughout their work in either the Tsagaan Bogd Uul or the Atas Bogd Uul.
Ochotona pallasi pallasi (includes Ochotona pallasi opaca)
  • Northeastern Kazakhstan
Ochotona pallasi pricei
  • Found "in Mongolia, southwestern Tuva ASSR, Soviet Union and Xinjiang, China, along the Mongolian border"
Ochotona pallasi sunidica
  • This subspecies is isolated from the main distribution of this species.

When Ochotona pallasi lives in close proximity to Ochotona pusilla - Steppe pika (with Ochotona pallasi pallasi) or Ochotona dauurica - Daurian pika (with Ochotona pallasi pricei) there is little overlap in their ranges, and hence little competition for resources, because of the different habitats selected by these species. 

(B605.3.w3)

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Conservation

Species variation

Notes

Specific Ochotona pallasi information
Currently recognised subspecies include:
  • Ochotona pallasi hamica
  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi; also known as Ochotona pallasi ogotona; Ochotona pallasi opaca
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei
  • Ochotona pallasi sunidica

(B605.3.w3, B607.w20)

NB: names in non-bold font are reported as synonyms for that particular subspecies from the reference B607.w20.

Notes: 
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei may prove to be a distinct species due to marked differences in reproduction, habitat, behaviour and vocalisation. (B605.3.w3, B607.w20)
  • Ochotona pallasi sunidica has only recently been described and is poorly known. (B605.3.w3)
Former subspecies of Ochotona pallasi but subsequently reassigned
  • The form sushkini, was previously assigned to Ochotona pallasi but is now regarded as a subspecies of Ochotona alpina - Alpine pika. (B605.3.w3, B607.w20). The reassignment was based on the following distinctions:
    • the interorbital width of Ochotona alpina is more than in Ochotona pallasi; (B605.3.w3)
    • the soles and fur of the feet are pale in Ochotona pallasi but dark grey to brownish (depending on the season) in Ochotona alpina; (B605.3.w3)
    • " the type locality of sushkini lies outside of the range of O. pallasi in the Altai Mountains." (B605.3.w3)
  • The form helanshanensis: two researchers felt that this form should be assigned as a subspecies of Ochotona pallasi but its molecular distance is now thought to be too great and its karyotype differs from Ochotona pallasi. It is currently thought of as a synonym of Ochotona argentata - Silver pika. (B607.w20)

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Conservation Status

Notes

WILD POPULATION - IMPORTANCE:

General pika information

  • Pikas are important as prey for many birds and mammals. (B605.3.w3)
  • By recycling soil, burrowing pikas have a positive contribution to ecosystem-level dynamics. (B605.3.w3)
  • Erosion is more likely to be due to vegetation overgrazing by livestock rather than burrowing pikas. (B605.3.w3)
  • Haypiles created by pikas may provide winter food for domestic cows and horses and also native species such as ungulates or smaller herbivores. (B605.3.w3)

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • In southwestern Tuva, certain plants reach high abundance and flower only above the burrows of pikas, for example Euphorbia altaica and some crucifers. Artemisia reportedly only grows above the pika burrows. (B605.3.w3)

GENERAL LEGISLATION: 

  • "Currently no species or forms of Ochotona are treated on any national list of endangered or threatened wildlife." (B605.3.w3)

CITES LISTING: 

  • There are currently no Ochotona species CITES-listed. (W354.April08.w1)

RED-DATA LIST STATUS:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • IUCN - Lower risk/least concern. (W2.Apr08.w58)
    • Ochotona pallasi hamica - Critically endangered. (W2.Apr08.w58)
    • Ochotona pallasi sunidica - Endangered. (W2.Apr08.w58)

THREATS:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Throughout the range of Ochotona pallasi, the Pallas's pika populations are frequently isolated from one another, even when they are separated by suitable habitat. This has meant that some local populations are subject to frequent extinction and these areas are often not recolonised due to their poor vagility. (B605.3.w3)
  • This species is intensively poisoned in parts of central Asia and China due to their potential competition with livestock on the open rangeland. (B147)
  • Ochotona pallasi hamica
    • This subspecies inhabits isolated mountains in the Gobi desert and should be considered as seriously endangered due to small population size, isolation, changes in climate, and potential habitat degradation. (B147, B605.3.w3)
    • This subspecies is "poorly known and only the type series (six specimens) is known to exist". There have not been any records from its Karlik Shan locality in Xinjiang, China, for over fifty years. (B605.3.w3)
    • "The range of the subspecies hamica in the Tsagaan Bogd Uul (Mountains) (Mongolian People's Republic) is enigmatic". Its population there has steadily decreased over the past 4500 years. Between 3000 and 4500 years ago Pallas's pika bones made up 23.6% of all the small mammals bones; this decreased to 7.8% between 2000 and 3000 years ago, then 7.3% between 1500 and 2000 years ago, and most recently only 0.4% for the period of the last 200 years. One proposed theory for this downward trend is that the global drying of the climate in the southern Gobi over the last 200 years could be responsible for the change in the representation of Pallas's pika in the fauna. (B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi
    • The range of this subspecies has apparently decreased. It is no longer found in the Dzhambul Mountains and there are now only isolated populations in the Kyzkach Mountains and in "the hills east of the Aktogai railroad station". These isolated populations are thought to be very small and vulnerable. (B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi pricei
    • The isolated population of this subspecies from the Choyr Mountains, southeast of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is reported as very depressed and therefore should be considered threatened. (B605.3.w3)
    • Similarly, other populations of this subspecies have declined over the centuries, particularly those near its southern distributional boundary. "On the Dzhinst-Ula Ridge pikas comprised 38% of the bones of the prey of owls eleven centuries ago. This figure declined to 28% ten centuries ago and 21% six centuries ago. Only one migrating juvenile was seen at this site in 1980 (K.A.Rogovin, personal communication) and none live there now". (B605.3.w3)
  • Ochotona pallasi sunidica
    • this subspecies is isolated from the main distribution of this species and so may also be at risk. (B605.3.w3)
    • This subspecies is endangered in Inner Mongolia - the population is expected over the next ten years by at least 50%. (B147, B605.3.w3)
  • In general, the status of many species of pika is hard to assess because they inhabit such remote areas. (B285.w5g)
  • Many species of pika inhabit very restricted ranges and so may be threatened by human environmental disruption. (B147)

PEST STATUS / PEST POPULATIONS:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi pricei is considered a pest in southwestern Tuva, Russia, because it is thought to be a focus for plague. Control of this pika in this region has now ceased. However, it is heavily controlled in China near the Mongolian border. (B605.3.w3)
  • Due to their remote habitat, most pikas "rarely come into conflict with human economic activity." (B147)

CAPTIVE POPULATIONS: --

TRADE AND USE:

Specific Ochotona pallasi information

  • Ochotona pallasi pallasi has been trapped for the fur industry in Kazakhstan. In some years, a few thousand "pishchukhas" (the common name in Russian for all species of pika and some gerbils Rhombomys opimus, Meriones tamareiscinus (Muridae - (Family)) were trapped in the Karaganda area where Ochotona pallasi and Ochotona pusilla - Steppe pika are common, but actually only 300 to 350 were pikas. (B605.3.w3)

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