All About Pikas and How to Sketch Them

Pikas are endearing mammals that live high in the alpine zones of North America’s Rockies, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada mountains. They make their homes on talus slopes where large boulders form protective crevices that provide the pikas with shelter from both harsh weather and wily predators such as weasels, bobcats, and owls.

american pika on rock

While pikas may resemble rodents like mice or squirrels, they are actually more closely related to rabbits. They have a curious lifestyle that includes spending most of their summer days gathering flowers, herbs, and grasses which they store and cure as a nutritious source of food to sustain them through the cold and snowy winter months.


Pika gathering grass

There are about 30 other species of pikas in the world that inhabit the mountains of Europe and Asia. All are being threatened by the negative effects of climate change. When temperatures soar above 75 degrees these small mammals overheat. Hotter weather also has the effect of increasing summer wildfire danger and of melting the snow in the winter which is needed to insulate these small mammals in their tunnel-like homes among the boulders.

American pika in snow



If you’d like to learn much more about the diminutive but pugnacious pika, I suggest you watch the recording of my live online workshop below.
First, you’ll want to gather some paper, sketching pencils, and also download the pika image as seen below the video.