pika is a small mammal, with short limbs, very round body, rounded ears, and no external tail. They resemble their close cousin the rabbit, but with shorter ears.They live in mountainous countries in Asia, with two species also in North America. Most pikas prefer rocky slopes. The large-eared pika of the Himalayas and nearby
mountains is one of the highest living mammals, found at heights of more than 6000 m. Pikas graze on a range of plants, mostly grasses, flowers and young stems. In the autumn, they pull hay, soft twigs and other stores of food into their burrows to eat during the long, cold winter.
The name "pika" is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae (rabbits and hares). One genus, Ochotona, is recognised within the family, and it includes 30 species. It is also known as the "whistling hare" due to its high-pitched alarm call when diving into its burrow. In the United States, the pika is colloquially called a "coney", a nonspecific term also used for rabbits, hares, and hyraxes. The name "pika" appears to be derived from the Tungus piika and the scientific name Ochotona is from the Mongolian word ogdoi which means pika.
Pikas are native to cold climates, mostly in Asia, North America, and parts of Eastern Europe. Most species live on rocky mountain sides, where numerous crevices in which to shelter occur, although some pikas also construct crude burrows. A few burrowing species are native to open steppe land. In the mountains of Eurasia, pikas often share their burrows with snowfinches, which build their nests there
Pikas are small mammals, with short limbs and rounded ears. They are about 15 to 23 centimetres (5.9 to 9.1 in) in body length and weigh between 120 and 350 grams (4.2 and 12.3 oz), depending on species. Like rabbits, after eating they initially produce soft green feces, which they eat again to take in further nutrition, before producing the final, solid, fecal pellets. Some pikas, such as the collared pika, have been known to store dead birds in their burrows, for food during winter.
Pikas are diurnal or crepuscular, with higher-elevation species generally being more active during the daytime. They show their peak activity just before the winter season. Pikas do not hibernate, so they generally spend time during the summer collecting and storing food they will eat over the winter. Each rock-dwelling pika stores its own "haypile" of dried vegetation, while burrowing species often share food stores with their burrow mates. Haying behavior is more prominent at higher elevations. Many of the vocalizations and social behaviors that pikas exhibit are related to haypile defense.