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Lemming One

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Lemmings are small rodents found in or near the Arctic Circle

One of the smallest rodents, lemmings are known to exist in or around the Arctic Circle and are closely related to muskrats and voles.

They can also be found in the tundra biome. The smallest of them is only 8 cm long. The largest of these species is known to be three times larger than the smallest. Interestingly, a popular legend says that these rodents commit mass suicide.

There are about six different subspecies of lemmings, which are further subspecies including true lemmings, collared lemmings, wood lemmings, swamp lemmings, yellow prairie lemmings, and southern marsh lemmings.

Incredible Lemming Facts!

Angry lemming in the snow
There are many different types of lemmings, and they spend most of their time alone.

© Angelica Klingberg/Shutterstock.com

  • Lemmings are generally small in size but can reach lengths of 3-6 inches.
  • Lemmings can breed in less than a month after birth
  • There are about 20 different types of lemmings
  • Lemmings don't hibernate at all
  • They spend most of their lives alone. They only come together when they need to mate.

different types of lemmings

There are about six or seven different subspecies of lemmings, and these subspecies have subspecies. These include:

  • real lemmings
  • norwegian lemming
  • collared lemming
  • wood lemming
  • swamp lemming
  • yellow prairie lemming
  • southern marsh lemming

scientific name

The stupidest animal in the world: Norway lemming
Lemmings belong to the "Hamsteridae" family and have the scientific name "Lemmus lemmus".

© Anna Smirnova/Shutterstock.com

Commonly known as lemmings, this small rodent belongs to the classes "Animalia" and "Mammalia." Lemmings belong to the "Hamsteridae" family and have the scientific name "Lemmus lemmus".

The word "lemming" is often used to describe people who join mass movements without thinking of any consequences.

evolution and origin

A study published in 2014 presents new evidence that the Norway lemming may have survived the last ice age in the far north because it was cut off from the rest of the world by a massive ice sheet. This conclusion was reached by an international research team.

Twenty thousand years ago, Finnoscandia was covered by a thick ice sheet. As a result, the plants and animals in the area are thought to have come from populations that lived south or east of the ice sheet. The researchers then found that the lemming population was not similar enough to be a direct ancestor of the Norway lemming. This means that the only remaining explanation is that Norway lemmings come from lemmings that survived the Ice Age.

appearance and behavior

Lemmings are small animals, usually brown or gray, that reproduce early in life.

© Nick Pecker/Shutterstock.com

Lemmings are very small animals, usually only three to six inches long and weigh about 23-34 grams. They are usually round in shape. Their bodies are covered with thick fur that varies in color depending on the species.

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However, it is mostly brown or gray.

These animals have stocky bodies and often have small limbs, tails, and ears. Small ears help them conserve body heat. They also have very sharp teeth and claws that help them tear off roots and feed on them.

These rodents are impressive swimmers thanks to their waterproof fur, but they can struggle to swim when multiple animals are in the water at once. Some lemmings have died from drowning due to the mess and excess space.

Lemmings are usually solitary animals. However, they also socialize with others in colonies of other rodents similar to them at certain times of the day. Usually, this is the only time they come together just for migratory purposes or to mate.

Once they sense danger, these animals can become very aggressive towards their predators – sometimes bringing them into conflict with larger animals. It is also said that the collective suicide of lemmings is just a myth and did not happen.

These rodents spend most of the summer underground and in various tunnels. Around fall, however, the ground cools and becomes difficult to dig – forcing them to surface.
Living underground and in tunnels helps them survive harsh conditions and eliminates their need to hibernate. It also protects them from large wild animals that would normally prey on these small rodents.


Wild Norway lemmings sit and watch you.
Wild Norway lemmings sit and watch you.

© Anna Smirnova/Shutterstock.com

As mentioned earlier, these rodents are commonly found in arctic regions and tundra. They are common in Alaska, northern Canada, Norway, Asia and Europe. They can also sometimes be found in coniferous forests in another region with a cold atmosphere.

These rodents, especially in summer, live in underground tunnels. In the fall, when the weather starts to turn cold, they often surface, as it becomes very difficult to scoop up food in the cold.
Their subterranean tunnel habitat helps them stay warm and also eliminates their need to hibernate. It also protects them from any would-be predators that would normally prey on them on the ground.

Lemmings typically build nests of cow hair, grass, and feathers for shelter and warmth. In the spring, these rodents move further up, begin living in mountain heath and forests for warmer weather, and return to the Alps in autumn.

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Lemmings are known to be herbivores.

© Nick Pecker/Shutterstock.com

These rodents are known to be herbivores. Their diet consists mainly of grasses and mosses. Beyond that, especially during the colder months, these rodents typically seek out leaves, roots, bulbs, berries, and twigs to feed and survive. Lemmings spend up to six hours a day eating these foods because they don't provide many calories.

Most of their diet will consist of leafy plants, but very little fruit. Lemmings cannot process the glucose in sugar, even though it comes from natural sources. When kept as pets, owners should not substitute prepared meals for other rodents such as hamsters and mice.

Their teeth, especially the incisors, are constantly growing, which means they can bite and chew on stronger things smoothly.

Predators and Threats

snowy owl on snowy field
Snowy owls eat lemmings.

©AJ Gagnon/Shutterstock.com

Lemmings, like all other animals, are an important part of the natural food chain, which means some animals feed on them. Their small size is a major disadvantage, as this makes them more likely to be a source of meat for any predator.

Lemmings have plenty of predators, such as wolverines and snowy owls, but almost all carnivores will eat lemmings as a small meal. These rodents are the main source of protein for these animals and are very important to the ecosystem. According to sources, whenever the lemming population decreases, the arctic fox population usually also decreases.

At the same time, populations of these animals are not generally threatened because they are common and the IUCN has declared the species as "Least Concern". There is no widely publicized conservation effort without too many threats from humans. In fact, people in some parts of Europe even keep them as pets.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

Lemmings are known for their rapid maturation, usually around 5 to 6 weeks after they are born. They start breeding as early as one month after birth and are known to be enthusiastic breeders. Most lemmings follow the same mating ritual. However, the southern marshes are known to be a bit different, and little is known about their reproductive processes.

During their lifetime, each lemming can produce 8 litters of 6 each. The gestation period is about 20 days. At the same time, these animals usually live only about two years.

Mothers usually give birth in donkeys, which helps them survive the cold conditions of the arctic. She also feeds them until they are mature enough to start venturing out to find food on their own.


Lemming populations vary by region and time of day. In some places they may be endangered, while in others their numbers are booming. Likewise, some years are good for lemming populations and some are not. In some areas, there may be as many as 3,000 lemmings per million square feet.

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However, there is hardly any threat of extinction for the entire lemming population. The IUCN has placed the species under the category of "least concern".

in the zoo

Lemmings are solitary animals, but are not usually kept in zoos. If too many of these rodents are kept together for an extended period of time, they can become hostile to each other, and they usually only come together for migration.

As mentioned above, while not kept in zoos, lemmings are commonly kept as pets in Europe, although they are less common in the United States. To keep them healthy, pet owners provide them with essentially the same diet as they would in the wild, offering about a cup of green leafy vegetables per day. They need a terrarium for their home, since other rodents can easily escape their wire cages.

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Lemmings are herbivores. Their diet consists mainly of grasses and mosses.

Lemmings are very small rodents covered in thick fur. They are usually found in cold regions such as the arctic and tundra. They usually live in tunnels underground, especially in summer.

They are commonly found in arctic and tundra regions. They can also be found in northern Canada, Alaska, Norway and Asia.

A lemming's diet usually includes grass and moss. In cooler environments, they can forage for berries, leaves and roots for food.

Lemmings are small in appearance and covered with thick fur. They are usually three to six inches long. Their fur comes in many colors. However, the fur is usually gray or brown.

Many animals prey on lemmings. Some of these include Snowy Owl, Wolverine, and Arctic. Lemmings are an important part of the ecosystem, and many predators depend on them to survive.

Lemmings belong to the animal kingdom.

Lemmings belong to the class Mammalia.

Lemmings belong to the phylum Chordate.

Lemmings belong to the hamster family.

Lemmings belong to the order Rodentia.

Lemmings are covered with fur.

Lemmings belong to the genus Lemmings.

The average number of pups for a lemming is 7.

The scientific name of the lemming is Lemmus Lemmus.

Lemmings can live from 1 to 3 years.

Lemmings can travel as fast as 3 miles per hour.

The main differences between lemmings and hamsters are where they live, their appearance, and their relationship with humans.