A northern pika is seen peeking out of its burrow as it prepares for winter in this recent photo. In Japan the animal, which is said to have survived the ice age, lives only in the very limited alpine areas of Hokkaido, the country's northernmost prefecture. In the rocky area near Lake Shikaribetsu in the prefectural town of Shikaoi, high-pitched pika cries occasionally echo. A pika measuring about 15 centimeters in length was seen standing on a rock desperately eating food, while staring at the sky at other times. During this time, pikas collect leaves that later serve as food. In winter, they wait in their burrows under rocks for the arrival of spring.
(Japanese original by Taichi Kaizuka, Hokkaido Photo Group)