Real-life Pikachus eat yak poop to survive Tibetan winters

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Pikas living at high altitudes in Asia eat yak poop to help them survive winter, a new study has found. The small, rabbit-like animals, often compared to Pokémon’s Pikachu character, can’t hibernate through winter when food is scarce, so they slow their metabolism and eat yak poop to get by on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, where temperatures fall to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 30 degrees Celsius). Animals adopt all sorts of unexpected strategies to survive, study first author John Speakman, a biology professor at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, told Live Science in an email. "Lots of animals including rabbits and pika eat their own feces," Speakman said. Such poop eating, or coprophagy, can help animals absorb nutrients they couldn’t digest initially from their food, Live Science previously reported . "But eating the feces of other species is relatively rare," he added. Pikas are a group of small mammals found in North America and Asia. They are often associated with Pikachu the Pokémon which has a similar name — although Pikachu’s original design was actually inspired by a squirrel, according to the video game website Kotaku . Plateau pikas ( […]

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