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Pika Claws

American Pikas have sharp curved claws which help them climb and traverse across rock, talus, branches and logs.

Pikas attempt to gather enough food for the winter and their survival depends on a successful harvest. When winter arrives in the rocky mountain west, some pikas appear to use their claws to burrow through the snow, creating tube-like burrows and tunnels. These snow conduits help them access additional food underneath the winter snows.

In the early 1970's, pikas (Ochotona princeps) were trapped at Mount Evans, Colorado, and were held captive in individual cages and in two 1-acre enclosures near Fort Collins, Colo. When pikas were released into the enclosures in July and August territorial battles resulted, but when released in May and June, combats did not occur. However, the number of chases per pika-hour was as high in the spring as during July and August. Pikas collected vegetation for their haystacks and constructed trails through the vegetation in the summer and tunnels through the snow during the winters. In general, their behavior in the 1-acre enclosures appeared similar to that observed in their natural habitat.

American Pika on Top of a Branch

Researchers found evidence of widespread reduction in pika range in three mountainous regions including the Great Basin, southern Utah and northeastern California. Read more about pikas Disappearing from Parts of the West Due to Climate Change.

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