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Evenings with a Young Pika

Near Bozeman, Montana...

I was hiking near Hyalite Peak in early June, and on the talus slopes, and spotted a pipsqueak of an American pika. This little furball, barely bigger than a golf ball, is all wobbly legs and bewildered squeaks. Unlike a seasoned pika who could navigate those rocks blindfolded, this youngster is basically a furry pinball, launching itself at pebbles with the grace of a drunken toddler.  You watch, both giggling and wincing, as it throws itself heroically at a rock three times its size, only to land with a surprised "pika!" on its fuzzy nose. 

Adorable? Absolutely. But here's the thing: as cute as their kamikaze jumps are, these attempts are actually crucial for learning the lay of the land. They might seem clumsy, but these little explorers are building a mental map of their rocky home, one hilarious faceplant at a time.  And while you might have the urge to scoop up this misplaced beanbag, resist! Mama pika is probably watching from a nearby crevice, and disturbing a pika family is a big no-no. Just admire this wobbly wonder from a safe distance, and be amazed by nature's clumsy-but-critical learning process.

This young pika, was stumbling around like a college student after one too many homebrew Brewskies! You see, in its quest for the freshest greens and tastiest plants, this little furball often miscalculated its jumps, leading to some hilarious crash landings. But fear not, for each tumble was just another lesson in the wild world of pika acrobatics.

When danger lurked nearby, this clumsy critter wasn't shy about sounding the alarm, letting out a bark or a call louder than your Aunt Martha at a bingo game. And get this, the frequency of its panicked cries was higher than a squirrel on an espresso binge!

But let's talk romance, shall we? Over in Bozeman, Montana, adult pikas are like teenagers at a spring fling, getting busy about a month before the snow decides to take its leave. And oh, the ladies? They've got some serious multitasking skills, potentially popping out not one, but two litters a year, each with around three adorable offspring.

Now, don't let their size fool you; these American pikas may be small, but they've got big personalities. They're like the tiny, hyperactive cousins of the rabbit family, living it up in the alpine regions of Canada and the western U.S. If you have time, make the effort to hike in those lofty peaks, keep an eye out for these furry bundles of joy—they're cute, they're speedy, and they'll definitely keep you entertained with their antics!

By - Jere Folgert

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