Lemmings Facts!


lemming

The Lemmings are rodents, which are found in or near the Arctic Tundra. There are more than 100 species of lemmings; the smallest species is the wood lemming and the largest is the Norwegian Lemming.

Appearance

Tunturisopuli_Lemmus_Lemmus
Lemming by Oma kuva PD Image

Lemmings are very small animals, only about 3-6 inches long. They are stout animals with short limbs and ears, and a short tail. Since the habitat of the lemmings is often cold, their fur is thick and coarse which enables them to endure the harsh climates and also, the short ears help to preserve heat.

Aggressive Lemmings

Lemming_winter
Image credit: kgleditsch CC BY-SA 2.0

The behavior and appearance of the lemmings are clearly different from other rodent species. Many other rodents are inconspicuously coloured so that they can camouflage into their surrounding, keeping them safe from predators, and also they flee when faced with a threat. But the lemming is conspicuously coloured and is very aggressive towards threats. The lemmings do not hibernate in the winter and stay active year round.

Lemming Diet and Reproduction

Lemming_diet
Image credit: Sander van der Wel CC BY-SA 2.0

Their diet is made up of leaves, shoots, bulbs, grasses and they occasionally store food for the winter. Lemmings may spend about six or more hours on foraging and they eat a great deal to make up for the lack of nutrients in their diet. When there is plenty of food, their reproductive rate increases. Lemmings go through periodic crash and boom cycles (every 3-4 years). This is when the lemming populations increase massively all of a sudden and then diminish to almost extinction. Many of the lemmings die during migration, often by drowning when crossing water bodies that are too big from them to swim across (lemmings can swim).

Lemmings are featured in the following books:
25 Polar Animals
101 Facts… Polar Animals


The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Lemmings. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Berglemming, Norway Lemming by Lia van Harskamp
  2. Lemming Migration Along the Norwegian Coast (Britannica.com) by BritannicaOnline
  3. Mammals of the World: Norway Lemming by AnswersInNature

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