Thomas's pika

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Thomas's pika
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Ochotonidae
Genus: Ochotona
Species: O. thomasi
Binomial name
Ochotona thomasi
Argyropulo, 1948
Thomas's Pika area.png
Thomas's pika range
  • O. cilliana Bannikov, 1940

Thomas's pika (Ochotona thomasi), also known as the Thomas-pika,[3] is a species of small mammal in the pika family, Ochotonidae. The summer dorsal pelage is reddish brown, and the winter dorsal pelage is mouse grey in colour. Endemic to China, it is found on isolated peaks of the eastern Qilian Mountains in Qinghai, Gansu, and northwestern Sichuan. It is threatened by habitat loss. It is a generalist herbivore. It was assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species as insufficiently known in 1994, as near threatened in 1996, and re-assessed in 2008 as a species of least concern.


The Thomas's pika is a monotypic species (having no subspecies),[4] that was first described in 1948 by the Russian zoologist Argyropulo, in the journal Trudy Zoologicheskogo Instituta.[2] It is similar to the Gansu pika (Ochotona cansus), and has a narrower skull. Although they have similar greatest skull lengths, their cheek bone width are not similar. In 1974, Feng and Kao synonymised O. t. cilanica Bannikov 1960 with Ochotona thomasi.[4]


The Thomas's pika measures 10.5 to 16.5 cm (4.1 to 6.5 in) in length, and weighs 45 to 110 g (1.6 to 3.9 oz). The skull is fragile, broader anteriorly, and smaller, flatter, and narrower than other pika species. The greatest skull length is 3.3 to 3.7 cm (1.3 to 1.5 in). The anterior palatine foramen (funnel-shaped opening in the bony plate of the skull, located in the roof of the mouth, immediately behind the incisor teeth where blood vessels and nerves pass) and the palatal foramen are attached, and there is no oval foramen above the frontal bone.[5] The cheek bone are 3.36 to 3.55 cm (1.32 to 1.40 in) wide,[4] and the ears measure 1.7 to 2.2 cm (0.67 to 0.87 in) in length. It has elongated, convex auditory bullae. The summer dorsal pelage is reddish brown, and the underparts are yellow tinged or light white in colour. The winter dorsal pelage is mouse grey in colour, and the hairs have noticeable black tips. The hindfeet are 2.2 to 2.9 cm (0.87 to 1.14 in) long.[5][6]

Distribution and habitat

The Thomas's pika is a rarely found, one of the six pika species endemic to central China, with no true population studies.[7][a] It occurs on the isolated eastern Qilian Mountains in Qinghai, Gansu, and northwestern Sichuan.[1]

It inhabits meadows and isolated hilly, shrubby forests of the Caragana jubata, the shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa), the rhododendron, and the willow (Salix),[5] at elevations between 3,400 metres (11,200 ft) and 4,020 metres (13,190 ft) from sea level.[1]

The Thomas's pika is sympatric in its range with the Gansu pika.[2] However, although the Moupin pika (Ochotona thibetana) is also sympatric with the Gansu pika, Thomas's pika and the Moupin pika are not known to be sympatric.[4]

Behavior and ecology

The Thomas's pika is a diurnal,[1] burrowing species.[4] It is a generalist herbivore. It may live in small family groups.[1] Although its ecology is not well known, it is thought to be similar to that of the Gansu pika.[5] Details about its behaviour and reproduction are also unknown.[4]

At least one report claims they "act very much like voles" and are found in spruce-fir forests.[8]

Status and conservation

In 1994, the Thomas's pika was assessed as insufficiently known on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, but in 1996 its assessment was changed to the near threatened status. It was re-assessed in 2008 and rated as a species of least concern. This is because although very little is known about its status, it is a widespread species. The current state of its population trend is unclear. It is thought to be affected by killing due to pest control measures in its range although its effects to the species is unknown. The Red List of China's Vertebrates has listed the species as near threatened, nearly meeting the criteria to be listed as vulnerable. There are no conservation measures to protect the Thomas's pika.[1][7]


  1. ^ The other five species are the Forrest's pika (Ochotona forresti), the Gaoligong pika (Ochotona gaoligongensis), the Tsing-ling pika (Ochotona huangensis), the Muli pika (Ochotona muliensis), and the Black pika (Ochotona nigritia).[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Smith, A.T. & Boyer, A.F. (2008). "Ochotona thomasi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Hoffman & Smith 2005, p. 193
  3. ^ Wrobel 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Chapman & Flux 1990, p. 53.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, Andrew T.; Xie, Yan; Hoffmann, Robert S.; Lunde, Darrin; MacKinnon, John; Wilson, Don E.; Wozencraft, W. Chris (2010). A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN 1400834112. 
  6. ^ MacDonald, David (September 10, 2009). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 884. 
  7. ^ a b c Alves, Ferrand & Hacklände 2008, p. 308.
  8. ^ Dinets, Vladimir. "China, part 7 of 14". Retrieved October 2, 2017. 


  • Alves, Paulo C.; Ferrand, Nuno; Hacklände, Klaus, eds. (2008). Lagomorph Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation. Berlin New York: Springer. p. 308. ISBN 978-3-540-72446-9. 
  • Chapman, Joseph A.; Flux, John E.C., eds. (1990). Rabbits, Hares and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union IUCN. p. 53. ISBN 9782831700199. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  • Futuyma, D. J. (October 2009). Evolution (2nd ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates. ISBN 0878931880. 
  • Hoffman, R.S.; Smith, A.T. (2005). "Order Lagomorpha". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  • Wrobel, Murray, ed. (2007). Elsevier's Dictionary of Mammals: in Latin, English, German, French and Italian. Amsterdam Boston, MA: Elsevier. p. 355. ISBN 9780080488820. 

Further reading

  • Orr, Robert Thomas (1977). The Little-known Pika (illustrated ed.). New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0025939602. 
  • 黄文几,陈延熹,温业新, 中国啮齿类,上海:复旦大学出版社, 1995. (in Chinese)

External links

  • Dinets, Vladimir. "China, part 7 of 14" (Photograph). 
  • "Thomas's Pika" (Photograph) – via Pinterest. 
  • "Ochotona thomasi". WildPro. There is very little reported data on this specific species so the data below is taken from general pika information. 
  • "Thomas's pika — Ochotona thomasi". Encyclopedia of Life. 
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