Where the lemming lives - description, lifestyle and interesting facts


The family of rodents has many different species, and the small animal, whose name is lemming, is on this large list. Where this cute creature lives, what it feeds on, how it multiplies, you can learn about all this from this article. Small rodents resemble voles and hamsters in appearance and lifestyle. The little body of the animal is wrapped up in colorful fur, due to which it received the second name - the polar pestle.

Lemming: description

Before we talk about the lifestyle of an animal called lemming, where the animal lives and what it eats, consider what a motley rodent looks like. There are about 20 species of these furry creatures known on Earth. All of them are very similar to each other, if you do not take into account the minor species differences.

The body of the pestle is small, but at the same time dense, its length is about 15 cm. The tail is small (2 cm), the paws are short, the ears are almost invisible, they are hidden in the fur. The coat is yellow-brown in color, on the back is much darker and may be variegated or gray-brown.

I would like to mention the lemming of the ungulate; in contrast to other species, claws on the forelimbs grow large in the winter time. Thanks to such "hooves" the animal gets its food by raking the snow.

Where does the lemming live?

This fluffy baby can take root wherever there is vegetation. So, questions about where the lemming lives, in what zone it lives in the wild, can be answered with one word - everywhere. Although there are, of course, places where this hardy and unpretentious rodent can not live. All species of lemmings are adapted to the harsh polar conditions.

The zone of its permanent habitat falls on the territory of the tundra of Eurasia and North America. The islands of the Arctic Ocean are a cute rodent, too, honored by his presence. Also noted are the places where the pied lemming lives on the coastal area of ​​the Arctic from the White Sea to the Bering Sea. This animal is considered the indigenous inhabitant of the New Earth, the New Siberian Islands, the Northern Earth and the Wrangel Islands. Now you know where the lemming lives.


Polar moths affect the vegetation of the tundra, creating a peculiar microrelief. Why this happens, you can find out by considering the question of where the lemming lives, where and how it arranges its home.

These rodents live in burrows that dig themselves. The residence of the lemmings is similar to a dungeon with a lot of winding passages, because of this, in areas where there are many such animals, the relief of the soil is changing. In the burrows, these Fuzzies equip their nests. In the warm season under the ground, and in the winter frost - just under the snow cover.

When the weather is warm and the sun shines, pestros can often be seen running between the bumps or sitting near their burrows. The spectacle is very funny! The animal looks ridiculous while sitting on a plump back, while the lemming quickly waves its front paws and shrieks, trying to scare off possible enemies with such actions.

In search of food pestri often go great distances, moving one by one. If you observe such migration from the side, it seems that a whole flock is moving. All due to the fact that too many rodents are moving in one direction. Traveling, lemmings are able to swim across reservoirs, swimmers are excellent. They also cross without fear any localities they encounter on their way. Although on the road a lot of animals die for various reasons.

The average life span of polar motley is two years.

What do lemmings eat?

The diet of a furry animal depends on where the lemming lives. The basis of the feed is grassy plants, or rather, their soft parts. Favorite delicacy - cotton grass and sedge. In addition, lemmings gladly eat young shoots and leaves of willow and birch, moss, blueberries, cloudberries and other berries.

Pied poultry food requires a lot, despite their small size. During the day, the lemming eats the amount of food that doubles its own weight. If you count for a whole year, you get about 50 kg of food.


The male lemming is not a homebody, it never lives in a nest, constantly wanders in search of food. The female is more economic, at the age of two months she is already able to mate, bringing 6 litters per year, each of which contains 5-6 babies.

Cubs are born helpless and blind, eyes open in 10-13 days. After 12-15 days, the cute little ones get out of the nest and live quite independently.

Lemmings produce offspring even in winter, arranging grass nests with a lot of moves under the snow. Such a rapid replenishment of the pest rows causes damage to the plant world. The nature, having foreseen this feature of rodents, limited especially rapid reproduction one time for several years.

Lemming: who is it

This animal is a member of the class of mammals, a group of rodents, family Khomyakov. Lemming is a wild animal with a small dense body. It weighs only 70 grams, its length reaches up to 15 cm. Thick wool makes it look like a round lump, in which short legs, tail and ears simply sink. Usually it can be monochrome or variegated.

In winter, lemmings do not hibernate. Their wool gets lighter shades, which makes animals less noticeable in the snow. Claws help to move on such a cover of lemming. In winter, their shape becomes a erase. Thanks to this feature, lemmings do not fall into the snow and easily tear it apart in search of food.

Where lemming lives

Thick coat of wool allows these animals to live in rather harsh conditions. They inhabit the natural zones of tundra and forest-tundra. This is a territory with frozen soil, where forest vegetation is absent. There are dwarf willows and birches, mosses, lichens and algae. Climate features are strong winds and high relative humidity.

Such zones are located on the territory of Eurasia, North America and numerous islands of the Arctic Ocean. In Russia, this species is found on the territory of the Kola Peninsula, the Far East and Chukotka.

Character traits

Lemming, the description and lifestyle of which we consider in our article, loves a solitary lifestyle. Even their own burrows they dig at a certain distance from each other. They often start fights with their neighbors. An animal or person approaching a lemming too close at risk of being bitten.

In their nests or burrows they spend the whole winter. During this period, food is served by the radical parts of plants. The search for food is their main activity. Sometimes lemmings destroy all the vegetation around. Indeed, during the day they eat much more than they weigh themselves.

Lemmings are not very friendly animals. You hardly get to stroke this fluffy little ball. He will immediately begin to bite, and then quickly hide in his burrow. The animal leaves its shelter only at nightfall.

Lemming: where it lives, what it feeds on

This animal is a typical herbivorous animal. Moss, cereals, berries, shoots of dwarf willows and birches are a favorite delicacy of lemmings. Some species prefer to make stocks for the future. They hide food in their burrows. The rest in winter is much more difficult. Such lemmings are looking for food under the snow. They have to build a large number of deep moves to reach the goal.

It is worth saying that the appetite of these animals is good enough. Just imagine that with a weight of less than 100 grams, the young lemming eats about 50 kg of plant biomass per year.

At first glance, it may seem surprising that the place where lemmings and foxes live often coincides in nature. Actually, this is not a coincidence at all. The fact that these rodents are the basis of the diet of foxes. Yes, and other polar inhabitants are not averse to feast on lemmings. These include the snowy owl, ermine and arctic fox.

A clear day regimen is another distinguishing feature of lemmings. His meal lasts for an hour, after which the animal is fast asleep. This lasts a couple of hours. Further, these processes are repeated. And you need to find time to find edible plants and produce offspring.

Suicide myth

The most interesting fact about lemming is the phenomenon of their mass death. Moreover, this is observed during periods when the number of populations of these animals increases dramatically. The fact that the lemmings live singly also adds to the mystery of this situation. What makes them follow the leader to dangerous places, where their death occurs?

Environmentalists believe that this fact is fictional. In some years there were indeed sharp reductions in the number of individuals. There was no explanation for him. Then the British writer Arthur Mee published a story about this in the children's encyclopedia. Subsequently, the scene of suicide lemming was filmed in the feature film "White Waste". But she was absolutely staged.

Under natural conditions, everything happens quite differently. In the harvest year, lemmings actively reproduce and do not leave the range of their existence. The onset of an unfavorable period forces the lemming to seek food. They are massively migrating in search of a "better life", overcoming vast distances.

Lemming travels, as they live alone. And whole groups are found only in reservoirs, overcoming which a part of the population is drowning.

Hoofed lemming

This type is easily recognizable by the shape of the two medium nails of the front paws. They grow significantly and become like a fork. Another distinctive feature is the black strip. She runs along the back. Another strip is on the neck. Visually, it resembles a light collar. In general, the color of the hoofed lemming has ashen - gray shades with red spots on the sides and a gray belly. In winter, the animal changes its coat color to white.

Where does the lemming of this species live? The area of ​​its distribution is quite wide. It begins on the east coast of the White Sea, includes numerous islands, and stretches to the Bering Strait. The hoofed lemming comfortably feels on the territory of the tundra with a large number of moss, dwarf willows, birches and wetlands.

His diet includes young shoots and leaves of plants, blueberries and cloudberries. In winter, ungulates make significant stocks of provisions in their burrows. This is one of the representatives of the species, who in winter live in small groups under the snow. Being the main food of many polar animals, they have a negative value. Hoof lemming is a natural carrier of infectious diseases such as tularemia and leptospirosis. Not only animals are subject to him, but also man. They can become infected with pathogens through a bite, direct contact, through contaminated water, food, or straw.

Forest lemming

The visiting card of this type is the presence of a brown spot on the back. In general, the color of the animal is blackish - gray. The place where the lemming lives is the taiga zone of the north of Eurasia. These are mixed and coniferous forests with thick moss bedding. In it, the animal paves numerous passages that continue along the paths. His burrows can be found in the moss of moss or the roots of old trees. The forest lemming lives up to two years, bringing a year 5-6 pups in a litter.

Siberian Lemming

This species does not change its color in winter. The Siberian Lemming is quite large. It has a length of about 16 cm with a mass of more than 100 g. It is found on the territory of the Russian tundra and numerous islands of the Arctic Ocean. On the red body of the Siberian lemming, a black band is clearly visible, which runs along the back. Green mosses, small bushes, cotton grass and sedges serve as food for him. For the winter, they make significant reserves of provisions in snow chambers or nests, which are constructed from leaves and straw. Siberian lemming is an important component of the tundra food chain. For white owls, skuas, weasels, arctic fox, ermine, they are the main food.

Lemming Vinogradov

This is a prime example of an endemic species. It lives only on Wrangel Island, where it is protected by a local reserve. This species is named after Boris Stepanovich Vinogradov, a famous Soviet zoologist. The field of his research was theriology, which is the science of mammals. Once this species was a species of ungulate lemming. Its distinctive feature is an elongated head and a wide nape. In winter, it becomes white from gray.

So, in our article we met with representatives of the squad of Rodents, which are called lemmings. Description of the animal has its own characteristics. These include a small dense body covered with thick variegated coat. Depending on the species, it may contain spots or stripes of different colors. Habitat lemming is the territory of the tundra, which is rich in mosses. These plants are their main food along with shoots of shrubs, lichens and algae.

Who are the lemmings

Lemmings are small rodents of the hamster family. On their land, there are about 20 species. Outwardly, they are very similar to each other. The body of the lemmings is dense, 15 cm long, the tail is short, only 2 cm. The coat is yellow-brown, dark on the back, can be gray-brown or variegated.

The little ears are hidden in the fur, the paws are quite short. The hoofed lemming has claws on its front legs for winter. They he, like hooves, rake snow in the winter in search of food.

Hoofed lemming

Where do lemmings live

The habitat of these animals is the tundra and forest-tundra zone. In addition to North America, Eurasia, they can be seen on the islands of the Arctic Ocean.

Lemming lives in minks that they dig themselves. Burrows represent a large number of winding passages. Often, they create a peculiar tundra micro-relief and influence vegetation.

In winter, they can build nests right under the snow.

Mink lemming in the snow

And in the warm season make a nest in the hole.

Why lemmings often breed

Males do not live in the nest, they constantly move in search of food. Females become mature already at the age of 2 months and are so prolific that they bring litters 6 times a year. Cubs are born 5 - 6 pieces.

Such fecundity helps the animals to keep their numbers rather large. The fact is that their role in the lives of so many inhabitants of the tundra is great. Lemmings are for them common. There are periods when the animals reproduce unusually many - like a fluffy carpet they cover the surface of the tundra. And then all four-legged and feathered predators eat only them. Most often they are hunted by weasels, ermines, foxes, wolves and even deer.

Lemming Courts

Due to this, animals give birth to more babies, and birds lay many eggs.

Polar owls and foxes at a time when there are few lemmings do not start breeding at all.

Description, lifestyle and habits of lemmings

There are small animals in the Arctic that have adapted to the harsh conditions of the Arctic and seem to feel quite comfortable - these are lemmings. Many Russians do not even know who they are, because they are almost never found in central Russia. Lemmings are small rodents of the hamster family. Outwardly, they resemble mice, although they are very distant relatives.

Appearance and habits

Despite the cute appearance, these animals often show aggression, even to their relatives. They like to dig individual burrows, for which they can even fight with non-asked guests. By the way, having seen a man, lemmings, even having a very small size compared to him, contrary to logic, do not get scared, but begin to defend their territory. In order of things - to hiss, and in some cases, and rush.

Habitat and lifestyle

Lemmings live in the arctic and subarctic tundra, ranging from the eastern coast of the White Sea in the west to the Bering Strait in the east - the northern regions of America, the islands of the Arctic Ocean, Franz Josef Land, Wrangel Island, on the Taimyr Peninsula. They prefer mossy tundra, where dwarf birch and willow grow, stony tundra, the slopes of watersheds, boggy peaty bogs and sedge-taiga areas, except for lichen tundra.

Lemmings are active all year round. They are herbivores, eat different berries, shoots, roots and grains, and at the same time are food for polar foxes, as well as for Arctic foxes, buzzards, and especially polar owls, who prefer lemmings to any other prey.

Lemmings are a lone animal. Separate individuals secure certain areas and protect them from their neighbors neighbors. In periods of large livestock are a real disaster for the agriculture of the northern regions. Они совершают сезонные набеги на пастбища, где подчистую выедают осоки, мхи, кустарнички, которые необходимы для корма оленей и других домашних животных.

На зиму устраивают гнёзда на земле под снегом. В это время питаются прикорневыми частями растений, которые раскапывают из-под снега. Часто запасают корм впрок, устраивая хранилища вблизи своего гнезда. Кроме того они постоянно вылезают на поверхность в поисках пищи. Особенно это проявляется в темное время суток. By the way, precisely during the night feeding, lemmings become prey for a polar owl that hunts only at night.

Types of Lemmings

In our country, several species of lemming are common: forest, Norwegian, Siberian, Amur, ungulate and Vinogradov lemming. In general, they have only minor differences in color and body length. The largest of them are the lemming of Vinogradov, they reach 17 cm - these are the largest of all small rodents.

Forest lemming (Myopus schisticolor) - has a body size of about 8-13 cm, weight up to 45 g. Color is black-gray, with brown spots on the back. It lives in the taiga from Scandinavia to Kamchatka. It prefers coniferous and mixed forests with abundant moss. It feeds mainly on mosses, berries and roots. It makes burrows in mossy hummocks, among tree roots, or among moss-covered stones. Females bring cubs twice a year for 4-6 pcs. Live 1-2 years.

Norwegian Leming (Lemmus lemmus). Size up to 15 cm. The color is variegated, a black stripe along the back of the yellow-brown color. Inhabits the mountain tundra in Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula. The nor does not dig, usually settles in natural shelters under the roots of trees, among stones and moss hummocks. Eats moss, sedge, cereals, berries. The female is brought in 3-4 litters up to 7 cubs.

Siberian Lemming (Lemmus sibiricus). Body length is up to 16 cm, weight is up to 130 g. Color is yellow, there is a black stripe along the back, it does not change color in winter. It lives in the tundra of Russia from the Northern Dvina to Kolyma and on the islands of the Arctic Ocean. It feeds on mosses, sedges and cotton grass. In winter, twigs and roots of tundra shrubs. In winter, it lives under the snow, in the nests that it makes of leaves and branches. For the year, the female brings 4-5 litters, each with up to 12 calves. It is the main prey of Arctic fox, ermine, and polar owl. Carrier of pseudotuberculosis and hemorrhagic fever.

Amur Lemming (Lemmus amurensis). Length up to 120 mm. In summer, the color is brown with a black stripe along the back. Winter long fur of brown color, with a gray bloom, a dark stripe on the back fades or disappears altogether. It reproduces in the same way as the Siberian lemming.

Hoofed lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus). The length of the body reaches 14 cm. In winter, the middle claws of the front paws expand and take the shape of a claw. Hence its name. In summer, the ash-gray color, with tan on the sides and head, in the winter lighter color. The abdomen is gray, along the back is a black stripe, on the neck is a light collar.

Lemming Vinogradov (Dicrostonyx vinogradovi). Named after the zoologist B. S. Vinogradov, who discovered this species on Wrangel Island. Where he lives so far. Occurs on nearby islands. It is the largest of the rodents. The length of the bodies reaches 170 mm. It feeds on grass and shrubs. For the winter makes large stocks of branches for feed. Digging large and complex burrows-towns. The female brings up to 3 litters per year, 5-6 cubs each. Its pregnancy lasts 20 days. Cubs see their sight in 10-12 days, and in two weeks burrows come out.

Lemming self-destruct

Lemmings usually feed for a long time on the same territory. However, in favorable years, when with long summer and warm winter feed enough, there is a process of increased reproduction of lemmings. The number of lemmings increases so much that there is not enough food at all, there is a shortage in food and the animals begin to migrate. There comes a time when this migration turns into their mass relocation. Mainly migrate young individuals. Together they leave their homes and rush in any direction. Not paying attention to anything, the living mass of lemming moves through the fields, mountains, settlements, until it rests against a water barrier, be it a river, a lake or a sea shore. Lemmings rush into the water and swim. At the same time, a significant part of them are drowning when trying to cross.

During such periods, a real feast for the predators comes in the places of their crossing. Foxes, foxes, owls and buzzards are chasing them on land. Do not disdain such food and sled dogs, and sometimes they are even eaten by reindeer. In water, the corpses of drowned lemming at such moments cover the water surface. They are eaten by gulls, predatory fish and marine animals. Due to such migration processes, the population of lemmings is greatly reduced, and in subsequent years they become rare. Usually in 3-4 years the number of individuals comes to the usual level and remains until a new outbreak of mass reproduction. Thus, the lemmings self-destruct, and the natural regulation of their numbers is periodically carried out in accordance with the abilities of the abundance of food to the entire population.

Since lemmings are mass animals, they form the basis of the diet of many predators of the North. These are arctic foxes, and polar owls, and peregrine falcons, and gyrfalcons. During the mass migrations, the lemmings become easy prey, and all who feel like it begin to hunt them. Lemming feed on wolves, crows, gulls, skuas, bears, and sometimes even completely peaceful geese and reindeer! Oddly enough, herbivorous geese and reindeer thus compensate for the lack of protein in the body.

During such periods, all these animals prefer lemmings over other types of prey, even their fertility is closely related to the number of lemmings in a given season. The periodic decline in the number of lemmings becomes a decline in the birth rate of the main predators of the North, as they bring fewer offspring during this period. Thus, in a natural way, not only the population of lemmings is regulated, but also other animals.