【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (3) Pika  

A pika heads to its nest holding Japanese gentian leaves in its mouth

At a height of around 1,000 meters in the Daisetsuzan National Park in central Hokkaido, a bird-like high-pitched cry echoes around the rugged rocks. It’s that of a small mammal – approximately 15 cm in length – known as the pika (rock rabbit).
 Hikers strain their eyes to get a glimpse of this cute creature, with its big, round eyes, rotund body and short limbs, but pikas make their ‘nests’ deep in the cracks between the rocks, and opportunities to see them are scarce.
The pika is a herbivore that is said to have survived the ice age, and is intolerant of heat. As it does not hibernate, as autumn deepens, the pika gathers the food it needs for the winter and stores it in its nest. Larger animals cannot get near the rocky areas of the mountains, but in order to protect themselves from natural predators such as sable and the like, pikas move from the nest to the grassland feeding grounds and back at a speed unimaginable for such a small, rotund animal.
 Holding food in its mouth and with its body at full stretch, the pika leaps between the rocks. As the season of autumn foliage nears its end in the mountains, the season of snow approaches.


Daisetsuzan National Park