Summer's Final Days

Jay Ryser

Lakewood, United States

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Artist's Description

For those of you not familiar, this is Larry the Pika. Since this is probably the last pika shot of this season, I’ll provide a little background.

Larry lives in a talus field around 14,000ft on Mt Evans. Pikas are about the size of a large hamster, but they’re more closely related to rabbits & hares. Pikas do not hibernate – they’re awake all winter (and at 14,000ft, that’s a long part of the year).

As they don’t hibernate, they must spend their brief summers gathering grasses and plants. When they gather plants, they stack them into tiny hay bales to dry in the sun, then store them for the winter. In larger pika communities, it’s not unusual for there to be disputes over ownership of the hay bales. These noisy conflicts are at times exploited by nearby predators.

Pikas are another species (like marmots) that are considered altruistic – they selflessly keep themselves in danger to bark out a warning to neighbors. They also bark out a warning if you get too close to their little hay bales. They emit a surprisingly loud “EENK!!!” if you get too close.

Larry is in the final stages of food preparation for winter. He spends most of his days now gathering and drying food. If he doesn’t gather enough food, he won’t survive the winter.

Pikas are considered a “canary in the coal mine” species, as they’re very susceptible to climate change and increasing temperatures, and are considered an at-risk species.

Mt Evans Wilderness Area

Artwork Comments

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  • Jay Ryser
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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