The Norwegian lemming lives in the very Northern-most reaches of Norway in the tundra. As you can imagine, the temperatures there are incredibly cold. During the winter months, the Norwegian lemmings live in nests they build underneath the snow and, when they are signaled that spring has come by the snow collapsing, they dig up to live on higher patches of snow that haven’t melted or move down into areas where the snow is mostly all melted away. They spend their summers on low ground where the plants are more plentiful, and in the fall, they begin digging their nests under the snow again.
The Norwegian lemmings survived the last Ice Age in the same location where they live now, and were one of the only animals to do so. However, during the Ice Age, the lemmings became isolated from the rest of their species, who evolved into other species. The Norwegian lemming remained the same, however, and today are only found in Scandinavia. They are very successful living there and in cycles of every five years or so experience an exponential population boom. Legends from ancient times recall these booms and describe giant groups of lemmings appearing almost out of nowhere.
The average maximum weight of a Norwegian lemming is just 130 grams. Their smallest average weight is only 20 grams. Their largest nose ot tail length just exceeds half a foot long. While Norwegian lemmings are small, their first instinct is to fight. When confronted by a predator, they will bite and scratch rather than running away and hiding. They have also been known to attack humans who they see as a threat. They also sometimes fight amongst each other, especially when there are too many of them living in close proximity. Male Norwegian lemmings sometimes box or wrestle with one another.
Tensions can particularly rise when it comes to mating. It is unknown whether Norwegian lemmings mate for life or not, but it is likely that they do, as that is the case with other species of lemmings. The gestation period for females is just shy of three weeks and each litter typically is around six or seven offspring. Again, it is not known exactly what roles the parents play in raising the children. Similar species see only the mother taking an active role in caring for the children, but some monogamous rodent species see both parents playing a part.
Currently, Norwegian lemmings are not endangered and are not in direct danger from humans, due to the fact that they don’t live where many humans do, though the fact that they live in a cold climate makes them susceptible to climate change’s damage more so than other animals.
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