Photographer Luckily Meets The World’s Most Lovely ‘Florist’ Animals

The American pika is a small and adorable creature that lives in the high mountains of North America. These little fellows, who look a bit like fluffy bunnies, have a real fancy for something special: wildflowers! They enjoy nibbling on these vibrant blossoms as they hop across the rocky ground. And they are not just adorable; they are clever too! In other seasons, they often prepare flowers to nibble on during chilly winters, when finding food is a tough task. Recently, a man met these super-duper adorable critters, and he was lucky enough to have a chance to snap numerous photos to capture their enchanting beauty.

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Source: Charles Haupert

These tiny creatures, closely related to rabbits, spend their days in rocky outcrops at higher altitudes, carefully searching for their favorite cuisine: wildflowers.

But these pint-sized foragers do more than just nibble. To ensure they have enough food to survive through the harsh winter months when fresh flowers are scarce, pikas gather and preserve colorful bouquets when the blooms are abundant. They’re very clever and hard-working, aren’t they?

“[Pikas] do not hibernate and will collect wildflowers and grasses in the summertime and lay them out on the rocks in the sun to dry them,” shared the National Park Service on a post. “They do that so their food does not go moldy during the winter. These are called ‘haystacks,’ and they are stored in their dens [until] wintertime.”
Source: Charles Haupert

Capturing this flower-gathering scene on camera is no easy task due to the swiftness and small size of these creatures. Yet, late last month, photographer Charles Haupert found himself in the perfect position during a hike in Colorado.

In the distance, a tiny pika was about to show off its skills as Mother Nature’s most adorable florist. And it was fortunate timing for Haupert.

Source: Charles Haupert

“I’ve seen them collecting flowers before, but never have been quick enough on the draw [with my camera] to get it in action,” Haupert told The Dodo. “They are always on the move.”

But that day was totally different. Haupert had his camera positioned and ready.

Source: Charles Haupert

As Haupert observed, the pika hopped among a floral patch amidst the rocks, skillfully grabbing flowers into its mouth as it went. Then the pika gathered as much as it could carry and started its journey.

“All in all, they are incredibly cute,” Haupert noted. “[She] headed down the mountain, over larger boulders, to hide what was picked.”

Source: Charles Haupert

Along the way, she paused just long enough for Haupert to snap her portrait.

“They then disappear pretty quick,” Haupert said. “You can hear them chirp, but sometimes they are tough to see.”

Source: Charles Haupert

And just like that, the pika and her floral treasure vanished from sight. This short encounter with the American pika, captured through Haupert’s lens, lasted only a minute. Still, Haupert considers himself fortunate to have had the opportunity.

“It was really just being at the right place and right time,” he said.

Source: Charles Haupert
However, the sad reality is that such sightings may become even more scarce. American pikas are built for cold, alpine climates, making them exceptionally sensitive to rising temperatures linked to climate change. In fact, extended exposure to temperatures exceeding 77 degrees Fahrenheit can be fatal.
Source: Charles Haupert
A study by the National Park Service foresees the potential extinction of some pika populations by the end of the century. While pikas are not yet classified as an endangered species, efforts are underway to address the threats they face. Encounters like the one Haupert captured serve as poignant reminders of the value of protecting these unique creatures.

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