Ochotona cansus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ochotona cansus
Species Authority: Lyon, 1907
Common Name(s):
English Gansu Pika, Gray Pika
Taxonomic Notes: There are currently four recognized subspecies: Ochotona cansus cansus, O. c. morosa, O. c. sorella, and O. c. stevensi (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). O. cansus was originally included in O. roylei and later listed under O. thibetana (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). O. c. morosa was previously listed as a synonym of O. thibetana, but phylogenetic research indicates it is a subspecies of O. cansus (Yu et al. 1997).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H.
Reviewer(s): Boyer, A.F. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
This is a widespread species that is characterized as fairly abundant. The status of the subspecies Ochotona cansus sorella (not seen in the wild for 50 years) and O. c. morosa (an isolated population) required further investigation to determine their current status.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Ochotona cansus is endemic to China (Smith and Xie 2008). The geographic distribution extends from northern Xizang and Sichuan, up through central and eastern Qinghai to the southern regions of Gansu (Smith et al. 1990). O. c. morosa occurs in Shaanxi (Smith and Xie 2008). It occupies elevations of 2,700-3,800 m (Smith and Xie 2008).
China (Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Tibet [or Xizang])
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Ochotona cansus is characterized as fairly abundant (Smith et al. 1990). The subspecies O. c. sorella is only known from a few specimens and has not been recorded in the wild for over 70 years (Smith et al. 1990). Additionally, the status of the isolated O. c. morosa population is unknown (Smith et al. 1990).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Ochotona cansus is a burrowing species of pika and one of the simplest among pikas (Smith et al. 1990). It occupies shrubland with adjacent alpine meadows (Jiang and Wang 1991; Smith and Xie 2008). This habitat consists of the deciduous shrubs Potentilla fruticosa and Caragana jubata (Smith and Xie 2008). It is excluded from open alpine meadows, where it is sympatric with O. curzoniae (Jiang and Wang 1991, Su 2001). Home range size fluctuates with seasonal variation (Jiang and Wang 1991). O. cansus is considered a generalized herbivore (Smith and Xie 2008) and is diurnal (Jiang and Wang 1991). Litter size varies with one to six young per litter and up to three litters per year (Smith and Xie 2008). The breeding season for this species is from early April through late August (Smith et al. 1990). Gestation last for 20 days (Smith et al. 1990). Total length is 11.6-16.5 cm (Smith and Xie 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no known major threats for Ochotona cansus. It is speculated that application of chemical pesticides may have negatively affected the subspecies population of O. c. sorella, which has not been recorded in the wild for about 70 years (Smith et al. 1990).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Ochotona cansus occurs in Luoshan (CSIS 2008) and Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserves (Liu et al. 2005). There is little information regarding the current status of the isolated population of O. c. morosa, and it is therefore recommended that research be conducted to determine population numbers. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern (Wang and Xie 2004).

Bibliography [top]

China Species Information Service. 2008. Ochotona cansus. Available at:; (Accessed: May 30).

Hoffmann, R. S. and Smith, A. T. 2005. Order Lagomorpha. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 185-211. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Jiang, Y. J. and Wang, Z. W. 1991. Social behavior of Ochotona cansus: adaptation to the alpine environment. Acta Theriologica Sinica 11: 23-40.

Liu, S., Sun, Z., Ran, J., Liu, Y., Fu, J., Cai, Y. and Lei, K. 2005. Mammalian survey of Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province. Acta Theriologica Sinica 25(3): 273-281.

Smith, A. and Xie, Y. 2008. The Mammals of China. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Smith, A. T., Formozov, N. A., Hoffmann, R. S., Changlin, Z. and Erbajeva, M. A. 1990. The Pikas. In: J. A. Chapman and J. C. Flux (eds), Rabbits, Hares and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 14-60. The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.

Su, J. P. 2001. A Comparative Study on the Habitat Selection of Plateau Pika (Ochotona curzoniae) and Gansu Pika (Ochotona cansus). Thesis, Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology.

Wang, S. and Xie, Y. 2004. China Species Red List. Vol. 1 Red List. Higher Education Press, Beijing, China.

Yu, N., Zheng, C. L. and Shi, L. 1997. Mitochondrial DNA variation and phylogeny of six species of pika (genus Ochotona). Journal of Mammalogy 78: 387-396.

Citation: Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. 2008. Ochotona cansus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 July 2014.
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