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A small furry rodent in the tundra and alpine biomes, a lemming is a subniveal animal of the Cricetidae family. Housing at least 20 species with about six different genus, a lemming is known to be closely related to voles and muskrats, which form part of the Muroidea family, which also involves rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils.
See the fact file below for more information on the Lemming or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Lemming worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- There are six genus of lemming, adding up to at least 20 species.
- True lemmings. Under the genus Lemmus, which includes the Amur lemming (Lemmus amurensis), Norway lemming (Lemmus lemmus), Wrangel Island lemming (Lemmus portenkoi), Siberian brown lemming (Lemmus sibiricus), North American brown lemming (Lemmus trimucronatus).
- Wood lemming. Under the genus Myopus, which only contains the wood lemming (Myopus schisticolor).
- Bog lemmings. Under the genus Synaptomys, which includes the Northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis) and the Southern bog lemming (Synaptomys cooperi).
- Collared lemmings. Under the genus Dicrostonyx, which consists of the Northern collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus), Ungava collared lemming (Dicrostonyx hudsonius), Nelson’s collared lemming (Dicrostonyx nelsoni), Ogilvie mountains collared lemming (Dicrostonyx nunatakensis), Richardson’s collared lemming (Dicrostonyx richardsoni), Arctic lemming (Dicrostonyx torquatus), Unalaska collared lemming (Dicrostonyx unalascensis), Wrangel lemming (Dicrostonyx vinogradovi).
- Yellow steppe lemmings. Under the genus Eolagurus, which houses the yellow steppe lemming (Eolagurus luteus) and the Przewalski’s steppe lemming (Eolagurus przewalskii).
- Steppe lemming. Under the genus Lagurus, which only includes the steppe lemming (Lagurus lagurus).
- Lemmings are small creatures, reaching 13 to 18 cm in length and weighing approximately 23 to 34 g. Their round-shaped bodies are covered with soft, brown, and black pelage, which can vary from species to species. They have a short tail, a stocky snout, and tiny limbs. Their little ears allow them to conserve their body heat.
- Similar to other rodents, lemmings have incisors that grow regularly, letting them feed on tougher forage.
- Their flattened claws on the first digit of their front feet help them delve into the snow.
- During spring, lemmings transfer to higher areas, and they are usually found on mountain heaths or in forests, breeding successively prior to their return to the tundra biomes in autumn.
- Lemmings thrive in large burrow and tunnel systems underneath the snow in winter, which safeguard them from their predators. These underground holes have rest and toilet areas, and even nesting rooms.
- Nesting sites are built out of grasses, feathers, and musk ox wool, also known as qiviut.
- Lemmings live a herbivorous diet, consuming mostly mosses, grasses, and sedges. They also feed on berries, leaves, shoots, roots, bulbs, and lichens they find on snow surfaces.
- Their favored dietary vegetation does not depend much on its occurrence and availability in their habitat.
- They cannot digest glucose in sugar, even if it came from a natural source.
- Lemmings kept as pets should never be fed with pre-made assortments for other rodents, such as hamsters, gerbils, and mice.
- Lemmings do not hibernate through the extreme winter in the north. Instead, they stay active, foraging by digging tunnels through the snow.
- Similar to other rodents, they have periodic population booms, scattering in any direction as they find food and shelter their natural habitats cannot supply.
- The Norway lemming and brown lemming are among the few vertebrates which can rear young so quickly that their number fluctuations are anarchic, rather than adopting a linear growth to a carrying capacity or regular oscillations.
- Lemmings have noticeably colored coats and display hostility towards their predators and even human observers. This defense mechanism is assumed to be based on aposematism, or warning display.
- In the 1530s, geographer Zeigler of Strasbourg suggested the theory that animals fall from the sky during rainy days and die unexpectedly when the grass grows in spring. Natural historian Ole Worm negated this claim, suggesting that there could be a possibility of lemmings falling from the sky; however, these creatures had been carried over by strong winds rather than spontaneous generation.
- Lemmings have also been assumed to jump off cliffs and commit mass suicide which is caused by their migratory behavior.
- Due to their strong biological urges, some lemming species may also migrate in large groups when their numbers start to extremely expand. They can swim and cross bodies of water in search of a new settlement. In such instances, some may drown if they chose to swim in oceans.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about the Lemming across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Lemming which is known to be closely related to voles and muskrats, which form part of the Muroidea family, which also involves rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Lemming Facts
- Tell Me About It
- Background Check
- Test Yourself
- Label a Lemming
- Know Your Lemming
- Lemming Quiz
- Lemming Ask You
- Life in the Tundra
- Do They?
- 4 Pics 1 Word
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Link will appear as Lemming Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 22, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.