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Adorable northern pikas in Hokkaido prepare for winter

A northern pika looks for food before winter in the town of Shikaoi, Hokkaido, on Oct. 18, 2022. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)

SHIKAOI, Hokkaido -- High-pitched cries occasionally echo in a rocky area near Lake Shikaribetsu here as northern pikas busily prepare food for winter.

    Japan's northern pikas inhabit a niche of high mountain areas in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. Recently in the area, the pikas could be seen emerging from their holes to look for food. They sometimes appeared to be listening closely and moving their mouths.

    Northern pikas are said to be remaining survivors of the Ice Age. Adults measure around 15 centimeters in length. About this time of the year, they collect leaves to eat during winter as they wait for spring under rocks.

    (Japanese original by Taichi Kaizuka, Hokkaido Photo Group)

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