Ochotona nubricaNubra pika

Geographic Range

Nubra pikas (Ochotona nubrica) are found in Tuggur, Nubra Valley, Ladak and Jammu and Kashmir in India, as well as in Nepal and Bhutan. They can be seen throughout the upper elevations of the Himalayan Range. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Srinivasulu, et al., 2004; Thomas, 1922)


Ochotona nubrica resides in rocky alpine scrubland that lies between approximately 3,000 and 4,500 m above sea level. Nubra pikas dwell close to cliff sides and other rocky outcroppings and utilize these and the scrub as shelter. (; Smith and Xie, 2008)

  • Range elevation
    3000 to 4500 m
    9842.52 to 14763.78 ft

Physical Description

The dorsal coat of Nubra pikas is generally grey interspersed with rather short red or black hairs. The base of the grey hairs is predominantly a charcoal color that is far darker than the tip. As one moves across the species range from west to east, the saturation of the coat color increases, resulting in a notable darkening. Nubra pikas seem to have a constant coat thickness and color year round unlike their close relative, Ochotona roylei, which gains a mantle during the summer months. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Thomas, 1922)

The ears of Ochotona nubrica are of average size, and have a whitish patch at the base. The back of the ears is black and the edges of the ears are whitened. Nubra pikas have a venter that is white or a dull yellow, while their feet tend to be similar in color to the dorsal coat. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Thomas, 1922)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    96 to 135 g
    3.38 to 4.76 oz
  • Range length
    140 to 184 mm
    5.51 to 7.24 in


Very little is known about the reproductive biology of Nubra pikas, however, it has been noted that they tend to stay in defined family groups. This suggests that they might have a mating system that is similar to that of their close relative, Ochotona pallasi, which is monogamous. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Srinivasulu, et al., 2004)

Information on the breeding habits of Ochotona nubrica is lacking, however, one might infer that they give birth in late summer to between 1 and 12 young, as occurs in their close relative, the Pallas's Pika. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

Parental investment in Nubra's pikas has not been studied in depth, but these pikas are known to travel in family groups. This suggests that parents may care for their young to some degree. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


The lifespan of Ochotona nubrica has been left unstudied, however other pikas have been recorded to live for approximately 3 to 4 years.


Nubra pikas are social within their closely knit family group, but do not seem to interact overly much with individuals from outside their kin. They are known to burrow in the scrub to create dens in which to sleep and have been seen skirting to different places of shelter such as rocks or scrub plants whilst outside of their burrow. This activity places them in a semifossorial category. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

Home Range

Though they live in family groups, it is not known whether Nubra pikas defend a territory. Home range size has not been reported.

Communication and Perception

Communication in Nubra pikas is not well known, but it may be similar to communication in Ochotona pallasi, once thought to be a subspecies of its better studied cousin. Because of the past confusion, it may be that the two share similar communication tactics as they have before been difficult to discern from each other. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Srinivasulu, et al., 2004)

Food Habits

Ochotona nubrica is considered an herbivore without strong preferences for any particular plant species. It is usually found on land that is inhabited by such plants as Lonicera and Caragana, so one might infer that these are a part of its diet. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • flowers


No specific predators have been reported. However, these pikas are appropriately sized for birds of prey to consume and may also be eaten by certain carnivores, such as the Himalayan wolf (Canis himalayensis).

Ecosystem Roles

Little is known about the roles Ochotona nubrica performs in its ecosystem, but it can be inferred that it is an important food source for predators found in the areas in which it lives. For example, the Himalayan griffon, Himalayan wolf, and Tibetan sand fox might consume Nubra pikas as a part of their diet.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Nubra pikas have no known positive economic importance for humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Nubra pikas have no known negative economic importance for humans.

Conservation Status

Though listed as an animal of least concern, climate change could have an impact on the habitat of Nubra pikas as they live at high elevations where temperatures have historically been relatively low.


Casmera Gendernalik (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor), Michigan State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


uses touch to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Namgail, T., S. Van Wieren, H. Prins. 2013. Distributional Congruence of Mammalian Herbivores in the Trans-Himalayan Mountains. Current Zoology, 59: 116-124.

Smith, A., Y. Xie. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. New Jersey: Princeton.

Srinivasulu, C., B. Srinivasulu, S. Chakraborty, M. Pradhan, P. Nameer. 2004. Checklist of Lagomorphs (Mammalia: Lagomorpha) of South Asia. Zoos' Print Journal, 19: 1375-1380.

Thomas, O. 1922. On Some New Forms of Ochotona. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 9: 187-193.

Yu, N., C. Zheng, Y. Zhang, W. Li. 2000. Molecular Systematics of Pikas (Genus Ochotona) Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 16: 85-95.