Adorable photos of pika, the rock rabbit, captured in Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Adorable photos of pika, the rock rabbit, captured in Okanagan

Penticton wildlife photographer Danny Coyne snapped a photo of this pika near Penticton.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Danny Coyne

Aptly nicknamed the rock rabbit for its desire to live in shale rock faces, a Peachland wildlife photographer managed to find the mountain-loving pika in the Okanagan this weekend.

American pika, with large, rounded ears, stout body and short limbs are related to rabbits and hares, belonging to the Lagomorphs order and can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains. The northern collared pika calls the mountainous regions of Alaska, northern B.C. and the Yukon home, according to the Nature Conservatory of Canada.  

They can also be found in southern B.C. at the edge of subalpine forests and alpine meadows, relying on small patches of meadow grass that grow at higher elevations, according to the conservatory.

Peachland wildlife photographer Danny Coyne recently had no luck spotting them on a trip to Canmore but was determined to find them in the Okanagan as he saw them frequently while growing up around Manning Park.

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He started by using Google Earth to map areas higher than 4,000 feet and then found rocky, shale areas next to wildflower meadows where the pika like to live.

He managed to find them in the Penticton area, July 1.

“We were walking along and said to my wife, ‘this looks like pika country’ and right as I said it, I heard a ‘peek.’ We looked at each other and our eyes lit up.”

“When you find one, they all start to pop up out of everywhere.”

Penticton wildlife photographer Danny Coyne snapped a photo of this pika near Penticton.
Penticton wildlife photographer Danny Coyne snapped a photo of this pika near Penticton.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Danny Coyne

Their thick coats mean they like to stay in high elevations in cool areas like rock faces, he said. The little creatures don’t hibernate so they dry grasses in little hay-like domes before moving them inside for the winter.

Pikas are well adapted to cold, alpine habitats, and often overheat when temperatures reach 25 C or higher. As climate change increases the global temperature, and extreme heat events occur more often, the American pika is facing pressure throughout its range, according to the conservatory.

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The pika lives in colonies and will be quite noisy once you find them, Coyne said, as they are actively alert to predators in the area.

Coyne really wanted to find them, as they’re “adorable,” he said. “I struck out on the Rockies because of the weather so I put on my list that I really wanted to get a photo of them because I used to see them all the time.”

It took three outings to find the pika but he was successful.

Penticton wildlife photographer Danny Coyne snapped a photo of this pika near Penticton.
Penticton wildlife photographer Danny Coyne snapped a photo of this pika near Penticton.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Danny Coyne

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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