Lemming Facts

Lemming Facts
Lemming is small rodent that belongs to the subfamily Arvicolinae (voles and muskrats are its closest relatives). There are around 30 species of lemming that can be found in the northern parts of Canada, Alaska, Europe and Asia (area around the Arctic Circle). Lemming inhabits Arctic tundra, taiga and woodlands. Depending on the available sources of food and number of predators, number of lemmings in the wild drastically fluctuates from year to year. Despite that, lemmings are not on the list of endangered species (their overall population is large and stable).
Interesting Lemming Facts:
Lemming can reach 3 to 6 inches in length and 1 to 4 ounces of weight.
Lemming has long, thick fur that is grey or brown-colored in most species. Color of the fur usually changes to white during the winter.
Lemming has small eyes and ears, sharp front teeth, small stout body, short legs and miniature tail. Its front feet are equipped with sharp claws.
Lemming is a herbivore. Its diet is based on the leaves, roots, bulbs, seed, grass, berries and shoots.
Lemming needs to eat 6 hours per day due to low caloric value of plants that it usually consumes.
Lemming spends the rest of the time inside the burrows under the snow. Burrows provide protection both from the cold weather and predators. Lemming uses hairs, grass, lichen and moss to create comfortable conditions in its nest.
Natural enemies of lemmings are birds of prey (owls, hawks, gyrfalcons), foxes, wolves and stoats.
Unlike other rodents, lemmings are conspicuously colored and aggressive toward the predators.
Lemming does not hibernate during the coldest time of the year. It moves through dense network of tunnels and paths under the snow and actively searches food during the winter.
When population of lemmings in certain area becomes too large, they migrate in large numbers toward new areas to find food. These migratory movements are responsible for the widespread myth that adult animals intentionally jump off the cliffs in large numbers to reduce population density and leave the remaining food sources for the next generation of lemming.
Lemming has waterproof fur and it can swim, but it can easily drown during the migratory trips when large number of animals enter the water at the same time.
Lemming is solitary creature. It gathers with other lemmings during the mating season, from March to September. Lemmings can reproduce rapidly when food is plentiful. Population of lemmings becomes extremely large every 3 to 4 years, but it equally rapidly declines when their habitat becomes overcrowded with predators.
Pregnancy in females lasts 3 weeks and ends with 7 babies (on average). Most babies are born during the summer.
Lemmings reach sexual maturity at the age of 5 weeks.
Lemming has very short lifespan, 2 years on average.

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