Norway lemming

Lemmus lemmus

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The Norwegian or Norway lemming, as with all lemmings, belongs to the same subfamily as voles. The rodent is endemic throughout Scandinavia and on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia. It is the smallest mammalian species found in subarctic and arctic regions in Europe. The Norwegian lemming constitutes the most important source of food for arctic foxes, snowy owls and stoats. The animals reach a body length of up to 15 cm and a weight of up to 50 g. It has relatively colourful fur, which varies from grey to yellow-brown with black patches on its back. Its body is compact and its stout extremities are fully covered in fur - well adapted to the arctic cold. The Norway lemming enjoys a predominantly plant-based diet; moss, lichen, leaves, buds, berries and sometimes mushrooms all feature on the menu. In the summer, it uses its powerful claws to dig shelters up to 30 cm deep. Contained in the tunnel system are various different functional rooms: sleeping places, extensive pantries and toilets. With the snowfall, the Norway lemming digs a hollow and spends the winter under the surface of the snow. However, it does not go into hibernation.

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