Lemming | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Lemming | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Lemming Overview


Lemmings are small, rodent-like mammals with stout bodies, short legs, and a relatively short tail. They have dense fur that can vary in color, typically lemming brown or gray, with some species displaying a seasonal change to a white winter coat.

Lemmings have rounded faces with small ears and eyes. Their body length ranges from 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters), and their appearance is adapted to cold, Arctic environments, where they are commonly found.

Origins And Evolution

Lemmings are small, Arctic-dwelling rodents with evolutionary origins dating back millions of years. They belong to the family Cricetidae, which includes voles and hamsters. Fossil records suggest that their ancestors lived in North America during the Miocene epoch.

Over time, these small mammals adapted to harsh northern environments, evolving traits such as thick fur for insulation and digging skills to access food under snow. Lemmings are known for their population fluctuations, with periodic outbreaks followed by declines, influenced by factors like food availability and predation.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Lemmings are herbivorous rodents known for their social behavior and adaptations to cold, northern environments. They are typically diurnal, active during the day, and forage for a diet of plants, lichens, and mosses.

Lemmings are social animals, often living in burrows and tunnels within colonies. They exhibit cyclic population dynamics, with dramatic fluctuations in numbers every few years, influenced by factors like food availability and predation. Lemmings are known for their long migrations, often triggered by overcrowding or food scarcity.

Lemming Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Cricetidae

Lemming Locations

  • Arctic tundra regions of North America
  • Arctic tundra regions of Europe
  • Siberia, Russia
  • Northern Scandinavia
  • Northern Canada
  • Alaska
  • Iceland
  • Greenland
  • Northern Asia

Fast Facts

  • Name: Lemming
  • Scientific Name: Lemmini Tribe
  • Habitat: Arctic Tundra
  • Diet: Herbivorous Rodent
  • Physical Features: Brown Fur
  • Nocturnal: Daytime Forager
  • Solitary: Social Lemmings
  • Unique Order: Rodentia Species
  • Lifespan: 1-3 Years
  • Conservation Status: Varied Populations
  • Fun Facts: Mythical Migrations

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown Fur
  • Skin Type: Dense Pelage
  • Top Speed: Agile Runner
  • Lifespan: Short-lived Rodent
  • Weight: Lightweight Animal
  • Length: Small Body
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: A few Months
  • Age of Weaning: Rapid Independence

Lemming FAQs

What is a lemming?

A lemming is a small, rodent-like mammal found in the Arctic and alpine tundra regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Why are lemmings known for population fluctuations?

Lemmings are popular for cyclic population dynamics, with periodic outbreaks followed by declines. These fluctuations are influenced by factors like food availability and predation.

What do lemmings eat?

Lemmings are herbivorous, feeding on plants, lichens, mosses, and occasionally insects.

Are lemmings social animals?

Yes, lemmings are often social animals, and they may live in burrows within colonies.


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