Photographer's Note

The Norway lemming (Lemmus lemmus) is distributed through northern Scandinavia and in Siberia, and here we see one of them in front of his winter den, just come outside to enjoy his breakfast of dry grass and the morning sun!

Adult lemmings feed primarily on sedges, grass and moss. They are active both day and night, alternating naps with periods of activity. The lemming grows to a size of 150 mm and a weight around 130 g.

The lemming is kind of a mysterious creature. Some years the lemming population simply magnifies in a few weeks for no obvious reason, and that is when the mass migration starts. I remember when I was a boy and roaming in the mountains, some years the lemmings were all over the place, dead or alive. I also remember them as rather bold and aggressive, they would stand up to anything even if their life were at stake...

However, what they say about lemmings marching into the certain death by stumbling over cliffs and into the sea is most likely a myth. The truth is in a lemming year you can see dead animals everywhere - also drowned ones - but that is probably due to the large numbers, of which some given percentage is bound to die in a natural way.

I think the myth occurs as a result of many dead animals found in nature combined with their aggressive behaviour in this period, but that is my theory entirely! However I doubt they have some inherit self-destruction tendency, which would be against everything we know about the Animal Kingdom…

This guy didn’t act bold at all as he run back to his safe nest in the snow when he spotted me! But a few seconds later he was there again, peeping out of his hole (see workshop image).

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Additional Photos by Pablo Minto (pablominto) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9892 W: 315 N: 14432] (53746)
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