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Afghan Pika: 17 Facts You Won’t Believe!

These interesting and fun Afghan pika facts reveal the uniqueness of this species of these small mountain-dwelling mammals

Among 29-37 different species of mountain-dwelling mammals are the pikas. While few species of pikas are Extinct, the Afghan pika (Ochotona rufescens) is one of the active species in Asia. The distribution of Afghan pikas is classified into three subspecies including Ochotona rufescens rufescens, Ochotona rufescens regina, and Ochotona rufescens shukurovoi. The animal was first documented by John Edward Gray in 1842.

The species of pikas (Ochotona) are quite similar in appearance because pikas are small mammals with round ears, a barely visible tail, and short front and rear legs. Also, the fur is long and soft usually with brown or gray plumage and a red iridescence. Similarly, Afghan pika males and females are monomorphic animals with varying pelage in the summer and winter. The behavior of pikas is diurnal as they are generally active during the daytime. The type locality of the Ochotona rufescens is documented to be India and Kabul at an elevation range up to 6000-8000 ft (1829-2438 m), the populations of these rock dwellers from the Ochotonidae group can be seen burrowing within the habitat range of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.

If the uniqueness of the Afghan pika makes you interested to read more about similar species, you can read about gerbil and marsupial mole.

Afghan Pika Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Afghan pika?

The Afghan pika animal is a lagomorph and is closely related to rabbits and hares. It is recorded to have three subspecies identified which are the Ochotona rufescens rufescens, Ochotona rufescens regina, and Ochotona rufescens shukurovoi. This species of pikas were first reported by British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1842. Pikas are terrestrial animals or rock-dwellers living in burrows.

What class of animal does an Afghan pika belong to?

The Afghan pika belongs to the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Lagomorpha, family Ochotonidae, and the genus Ochotona.

How many Afghan pikas are there in the world?

There are 33 active species of pikas around the northern and central parts of the world, however the population of the Afghan pika is not quantified. Also, pikas are listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Pikas are generally threatened by their predators including birds of prey and other wild mammals, but the animals do not qualify for a higher risk category. Pikas are known for their high rate of reproduction as females produce 1-11 young animals for up to five litters in their breeding season.

Where does an Afghan pika live?

While Afghan pikas are native to Kabul, they range from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Also, these animals are recorded as far as in northern Armenia.

What is an Afghan pika's habitat?

The Ochotonidae's favorable habitat is in rocky mountains or areas with rocks, regions with vegetation usually made up of grasses. Also, the pika lives at high elevations ranging within 6000-8000 ft (1829-2438 m). While pikas range around northern American and Central Asian states, they are native to temperate forests, living in burrows occurring mostly around the spring months.

Who do Afghan pikas live with?

Afghan pikas are believed to live in small family groups. Also, pikas work in groups to watch for predators and communicate danger to the members of their groups through sharp whistles.

How long does an Afghan pika live?

The life span of the Afghan pika is unrecorded, while the life span of pikas is recorded to range up to eight years on average. The age of a pika is determined by the number of adhesion lines on the periosteal bone on its lower jaw.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season and behavior vary according to the habitat quality of the pika and pikas breed in the burrow. The Afghan pika is recorded to have a high rate of reproduction as it produces about 1-11 young in a litter on average for up to five litters during its breeding season. While animals in the Ochotonidae family, in general, have a gestation period ranging up to 30 days, the gestation period of the Afghan pika is unrecorded. Also, the pika breeds from late April to early July but the Afghan pika does not have a specific breeding season. Males and females ensure a healthy diet for their pups for the initial 30 days of grooming.

What is their conservation status?

The Afghan pika is listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. While the pika has no major risk, it is threatened by predators like birds of prey or other wild mammals. Also, an accurate number of Afghan pikas is not recorded.

Afghan Pika Fun Facts

What do Afghan pikas look like?

The Afghan pika is a small mammal and monomorphic in nature, meaning the female and male are identical. The pika has a cream-white colored pelage during the summer, while it has heavy brown fur during the winter. Also, it has a small head, rounded ears, short and furred legs, and a tail.

* We've been unable to source an image of Afghan pika and have used an image of American pika instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Afghan pika, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

It is a small mammal with a stout body, round big ears, and small legs.

How cute are they?

With a cute and small body size, the Afghan pika is considered one of the most adorable species.

How do they communicate?

The Afghan pika communicates through chemical cues or vocalizations. While the types of vocalizations are not known, it is speculated they use whistling sounds.

How big is an Afghan pika?

The Afghan pika has a small body size with its length varying up to 4.7-11.8 in (12-30 cm). It is 10 times the body size of a European rabbit which has an average length between 14-20 in (35.5-51 cm).

How fast can an Afghan pika move?

With a small body size, the Afghan pika is speculated to move at a considerable speed, but the speed is unrecorded. In general, pikas are reported to run at a speed of about 15 mph (24 kph).

How much does an Afghan pika weigh?

The Afghan pika weighs up to 4.4-17.6 oz (125-500 g), but the young pup at birth weighs roughly 0.3 oz (9 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The Afghan pika female and Afghan pika male do not have names differentiating their sex.

What would you call a baby Afghan pika?

The Afghan pika baby can be referred to as a pup.

What do they eat?

The Afghan pika is a herbivore, primarily folivore. The pika gathers hay piles and restocks twice a year. Plants including thistles and xeric are its primary food. The Aghan pika also has a bad reputation for stealing food, mostly plants, and begging from other burrows.

Are they dangerous?

No, the pika is not dangerous, but are considered agricultural pests because they feed on food crops and orchard plants growing within its range. It is speculated to make hay piles and store the dried piles away in its burrow.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the pika does not make a good pet. The pika is known for its adaptability to survive at high elevations from 6000-8000 ft (1829-2438 m) and it prefers colder environments. Also, pikas are gregarious animals and prefer to live in groups.

Did you know...

The word 'pika' is translated as 'whistling hare' in English speculating the use of whistling sounds to communicate.

The Afghan pika is considered an important member of the native ecosystem.

The whistling sounds and their role in the native ecosystem highlight the uniqueness of Afghan pikas.

Are Afghan pikas endangered?

No, Afghan pikas are not endangered and do not qualify for a higher risk category as they are listed in the Least Concern category. However, the population of Afghan pikas in Small Balkan Ridge, the Balkan Mountains is speculated to be Endangered. Also, pikas have a high rate of reproduction meaning there is no current threat to their population.

Why do Afghan pikas call?

The Afghan pika usually calls to communicate and warn other members of its group about a predator. While it is speculated to use chemical cues, we do not fully understand the vocalizations of pikas.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our nutria facts and gopher facts pages. 

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Afghan pika coloring pages.

Main image by Donald Hobern

Second image by Marshal Hedin

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