Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some fun facts about lemmings! Read our blog post about the Norwegian lemming in particular here!
1. There are 20 species of lemming, and all of them live in the Northern hemisphere, many of them within the Arctic circle. Some lemmings are able to live in warmer, temperate environments, as far South as the Canada-US border.
2. Contrary to popular belief, lemmings do not commit suicide. This myth was popularized by films and comics but is entirely untrue. Lemming populations seemingly disappear quickly due to migration, not death.
3. Lemmings build many rooms into their underground tunnels and burrows, such as bathrooms, bedrooms, and nurseries. They line their homes with leaves, moss, or fur to keep themselves warm and comfortable.
4. Lemmings have waterproof fur and are good swimmers but can get tired when trying to traverse wide rivers. During migration, lemmings often cross rivers to get to their new habitats.
5. Lemmings are some of the world’s smallest rodents. While the largest lemmings can be half a foot long, many are only half that size and weigh less than an ounce.
6. Because the lemming’s diet of grass, seeds, and berries doesn’t contain many calories, lemmings need to eat for about six hours every day just to get enough nutrients.
7. Lemmings can be both social and solitary. Some species prefer to live together and some spend their time alone, only joining groups for migration. The species that prefer to live in groups are rare for rodents, who generally are solitary animals.
8. Prior to the mass suicide myth about lemmings, there was an even wilder misconception. People in the 1500s believed that lemmings fell out of the sky during storms. The only debate about this idea was whether they arrived in the wild or were spontaneously created from nothing.
9. Not all lemmings change color with the seasons, but some do. The collared lemming is the only rodent in North America whose fur turns white in the winter.
10. Most rodents are not aggressive, but not lemmings. They are well known for being willing to stand up to predators, even those who are substantially larger. Lemmings also don’t have muted or camouflaged coats of fur and don’t hide from danger.
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