Did You Know? - The Mighty Lemming

illustration of a lemmingDid you know that the humble little lemming–the smallest arctic mammal–is a giant in the arctic ecosystem?

While the polar bear is the most famous arctic animal, the tiny lemming–which could fit in your hand with room to spare–has the most influence. Almost all arctic predators eat lemmings. Some eat only lemmings. When the lemming population crashes every few years, the numbers of arctic foxes, weasels, snowy owls, jaegers–and more–go down too.

Lemmings eat green plants. But when freezing rain (that shorter, warmer winters can bring) covers the plants in a thick crust of ice, lemmings can't get at their food.

In winter, lemmings live under the snow. It insulates them from the bitter arctic cold.

Caribou are plant eaters, but they will sometimes snack on a lemming.

More information on lemmings

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