Pikas, with their round, furry bodies and Micky Mouse ears, may look like cartoons come to life, but they’re tougher and more resourceful than they appear, National Geographic reports. New research suggests these small rabbit relatives—which live in mountainous regions in North America and Asia—survive the subzero winters of the Tibetan Plateau by supplementing their diets with undigested nutrients found in yak feces, scientists write this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers came to their conclusions after capturing videos of pikas eating yak poop and analyzing the guts of 300 deceased individuals. The small mammals, which don’t hibernate, also slow down their metabolism to expend 30% less energy when the plants they typically eat are scarce.
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