Prolagus sardus


Kingdom Animalia


Reconstruction of the Sardinian Pika. Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website. This image has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Licence.

Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Lagomorpha
Family Prolagidae
Authority (Wagner, 1829)
English Name Sardinian Pika, Corsican Pika
Dutch Name Sardijnse of Sardinische Fluithaas, Corsicaanse Fluithaas
French Name Pika Géant, Pika Corso-sarde, Lapin Rat
German Name Sardische Pfeifhase, Sardenpfeifhase, Korsische Pfeifhase
Maltese Name Pika ta' Sardinja
Norwegian Name Sardiniapika
Spanish Name Pika Sarda, Pika Corsa
Synonyms Lagomys sardus Wagner, 1829; Lagomys fossilis Wagner, 1829; Lagomys corsicanus Wagner, 1829; Prolagus corsicanus (Wagner, 1829). (Savela 2007)
Taxonomy It was the only species belonging to the genus Prolagus that survived into recent times; the Corsican Pika (formerly Prolagus corsicanus) is now considered to be conspecific with this species (Wikipedia contributors 2007). Nowak (1999) placed this species in the family Ochotonidae (pikas), but Wilson and Reeder (2005) place this species in the family Prolagidae (Mediterranean giant pikas).
Characteristics This pika species was described by early Sardinian authors as "a giant rabbit with no tail" (Wikipedia contributors 2007). The Sardinian Pika probably had a length of 20-25 cm (Nowak 1999).
Range & Habitat The Sardinian Pika was native to the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia (Italy) and Corsica (France). (Lagomorph Specialist Group 1996; Wikipedia contributors 2007) It is probable that it occupied a broad ecological niche, as it is the case for much of insular species. Holocene fossil remains were found only up to 800 m of altitude (Vine, 1988), but it is possible that the species also occupied the grass lands of higher altitudes (Pascal et al. 2003).

Image: map with previous range (in red) of the Sardinian Pika. Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website. This image has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Licence.

Food Isotopic analyses showed that its diet was strictly vegetarian (Pouydebat 1997; Pascal et al. 2003).
History & Population It is believed that the Nuragici, the ancient peoples of Sardinia, viewed the Sardinian Pika as a delicacy (Wikipedia contributors 2007). Skeletal remains indicate that that this species was still present on Sardinia and Corsica within the last 2000 years( Nowak 1999). However there is a significant decease in bones quantity found in archaeological sites dating after the Roman conquest of the islands (Nowak 1999). In 1774, Francisco Cetti reported that "giant rats whose burrows are so abundant that one might think the surface of the soil had been recently turned over by pigs" were present on the adjacent island of Tavolara (north-eastern Sardinia), though apparently it had become extinct long before on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia (Nowak 1999). It became probably extinct in the late 1700s or early 1800s. (Lang 2007; Zoboli 2004)

Some believe that a small population persisted in the central mountains of Sardinia until relatively recently, but there is no evidence to support this (IUCN 2007).

Extinction Causes The causes of the Sardinian Pika's extinction are probably multiple (Vigne, 1988). The arrival of human groups (Homo sapiens) between 7500-6900 B.C.E. and the introduction of the dog (Canis lupus) and the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) resulted into a decline due to predation (Pascal et al. 2003). Competition with other introduced mammals could also have contributed to its extinction, like with the black rat, Rattus rattus (Pascal et al. 2003).
Museum Specimens Several fossil bones have been found. Do you know a museum that has specimens? Please contact us.
Relatives The genus Prolagus included several prehistoric species, like Prolagus aeningensis, Prolagus apricenicus, Prolagus imperialis, Prolagus italicus, Prolagus michauxi, Prolagus oeningensis and Prolagus sorbinii. Only one, the Sardinian Pika, survived in historical time. The closest living relatives are the members of the Ochotonidae (pikas), a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae (rabbits and hares). (Angelone 2004; Nowak 1999)

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Prolagus sardus

Sardinian Pika - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ausgerottete Arten - Sardenpfeifhase



(Complete website)

Angelone, C. (2004) Messinian Prolagus (Lagomorpha, Mammalia) of Italy. Messinian Online. Downloaded from (accessed 14 January 2008).

Colaboradores de Wikipedia, 'Prolagus', Wikipedia, La enciclopedia libre, 23 agosto 2007, 09:01 UTC, <> [descargado 14 enero 2008]

IUCN 2007. Prolagus sardus. In: IUCN 2007. European Mammal Assessment Downloaded on 19 January 2008.

Lagomorph Specialist Group 1996. Prolagus sardus. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 04 February 2007.

Pascal M., Lorvelec O., Vigne J.-D., Keith P. & Clergeau P. (coordonnateurs), 2003. Évolution holocène de la faune de Vertébrés de France : invasions et disparitions. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Rapport au Ministère de l'Écologie et du Développement Durable (Direction de la Nature et des Paysages), Paris, France. Version définitive du 10 juillet 2003 : 381 pages. (Online pdf with part on Prolagus sardus)

Pouydebat E., 1997. Approche biogéochimique du régime alimentaire des occupants du site prénéolithique du Monte Leone (Bonifacio, Corse-du-Sud). Mémoire de Maîtrise de l'Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I).

Lang, A. 2007. Sardenpfeifhase (Prolagus sardus). Ausgerottete Arten. Downloaded on 03 March 2007.

Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed January 14, 2008 at

Savela, M. 2007. Prolagus. Lepidoptera and some other life forms. Downloaded on 03 March 2007.

Vigne J.-D., 1988. Les Mammifères post-glaciaires de Corse, étude Archéozoologique. Paris, CNRS (Gallia Préhistoire, XXVIème suppl.).

Nowak, Ronald M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th edition, volume II. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1936 pp.

Wagner, J. A. 1839. Die Säugethiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur, Supplement 1. Weigel, Leipzig, 551 pp.

Wikipedia contributors, "Sardinian Pika," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed February 4, 2007).

Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press, 2,142 pp. (Online version)

Zoboli, D. 2004. Paleopatologie su ossa di Prolagus sardus (Ochotonidae, Lagomarpha). Giornate di Paleontologia 2004 - Bolzano, 21-23 Maggio. (Online pdf).

Last updated: 6th September 2008.

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