PICA, RODENT, the name of the European representative of a group of diminutive rodent mammals, also known as tailless hares, mouse-hares, or piping hares, constituting the family Ochotonidae with the single genus Ocholona. From the more typical hares and rabbits they differ by the short and rounded ears, the absence of a tail, and the relatively shorter hind-limbs, as well as by complete collar-bones. The soles of the feet are hairy, and the fur is usually soft and thick; while in some cases the last upper molar is absent. Picas are inhabitants of cold and desert regions. They dwell either in the chinks between rocks, or in burrows, although one Himalayan species frequents pine-forests. They are very active, and most of the species utter a piping or whistling cry. They store up a supply of grass for winter use; in Siberia it is stacked in small heaps. The Himalayan Ocholona roylei may be seen in the daytime, but most kinds are nocturnal. The Siberian species, O. alpina, ranges into eastern Europe, but Central Asia is the headquarters, although a few species range into Arctic America and the Rocky Mountains. In size picas may be compared to guinea-pigs. Till of late years the group has been generally known by the name of Lagomys. There are several extinct genera.
See RODENTIA; also J. L. Bouhote, "The Mouse-hares of the genus Ochotona," Proc. Zool. Soc. (London, 1905). (R. L.*)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)