Brown Lemming

Lemmus sibiricus

Brown Lemming

Appearance

Lemmings are the smallest mammals in the high arctic. They grow about 15 centimetres long and have tiny ears and short tails hidden in their thick brown fur.

Range & Habitat

Brown lemmings are found from the northern B.C. through the Canadian arctic. They build grass nests on the ground and tunnel into the snow to keep warm in the winter.

Diet & Behaviour

They like to eat mostly arctic grasses and moss. At the start of the winter lemmings grow two very large claws on each of their front feet to help them dig a hole through the snow to reach their grass nests. They don’t hibernate and have to spend the winter looking for food and moving to keep warm.

Lifecycle & Threats

Lemmings give birth in both summer and winter and most lemmings live less than a year. Their population numbers fluctuate frequently, though their numbers soar approximately every four years. Lemmings are important food for snowy owls, falcons, weasels and other animals in the Arctic.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information

www.alaskakids.org

Photo: Dave Krueper, Flickr