INDIAN OR ROYLE’S PIKA/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus




DESCRIPTION: The most common pika of the Himalaya, the Indian or Royle’s Pika is a moderately large, richly coloured species. It has a rufous–grey body, a chestnut head, shoulders and upper back, reddish purple throat and greyish white to dark grey underparts. The reddish colouration fades in winter, but the distinction between the upper and lower parts remains. It has moderately sized ears with sparse hair. The eyes are low-set and the feet are pale. The female bears two pairs of mammae. Anatomically, its skull is only slightly arched (less so than the Large-eared Pika), it has a short rostrum and small bullae and frontal fenestrae that are present in the young ones but disappear at maturity unlike in O. macrotis, where they persist into adulthood. Young ones can be distinguished from adults as they do not have signs of moult (blackish marks on the back where the new fur grows out) and also do not have scars along the ear line, which are prominent in adults. There are a number of colour variations in the O. roylei–macrotis group and some of them require further studies to confirm as subspecies or new species.


BEHAVIOUR: It does not burrow but moves underground through existing burrow systems in rocky and scree slopes. It constructs hay piles, hoards limited food for winter (there is limited altitudinal movement of about 70 m in a day and it is crepuscular.


DISTRIBUTION: Southern Ladakh and other regions of Jammu & Kashmir

(3,100– 4000 m), Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, northern West Bengal and

Sikkim (2,400–4,300 m; perhaps commoner along the treeline).


HABITAT: Rocky or broken ground, pine, deodar or rhododendron forests, and rock walls in human habitation. May prefer north–eastern aspect.

 Size: 15.5–20.4

IUCN Status: Least Concern


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