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Ungulate lemmings: photo, habitat

Flora and fauna of northern latitudes do not shine with diversity. Animals that have adapted to live in permafrost are not that many. Each schoolboy will name among polar animals polar bear, fox, fox. But not everyone knows that the existence of these predators directly depends on a small fluffy inhabitant of northern latitudes, whose name is a hoof lemming.

Species diversity and natural habitat

Lemmings represent one genus from the family of hamsters. In total there are about 20 species of lemmings, the species differences of which are not very significant. Representatives of the genus occupy the Arctic zones of Europe and North America. On the territory of Russia are widely distributed: the flood plain Mezen, the Lena delta, the peninsula Kanina, the Chukchi peninsula, the islands of Vaigach and Novaya Zemlya, Bear and Wrangel. Siberian and hoof lemmings are prevalent in the Russian Arctic zone. Siberian is also called brown, and ungulate - collar.

External differences

Lemmings look almost like homemade hamsters. Taurus is dense, not more than 15 centimeters. The weight of an adult animal rarely exceeds 150 g. The color of the Siberian lemmings is brown or reddish-yellow, along the back there is a distinct black strip. Color does not change throughout life. Ungulate lemming in the warm season is colored in colors from ash-gray to tan with a black stripe on the back. Around the neck there is an inexpressive light strip that looks like a small collar. In winter, the animal changes its coloring to white, and its claws on the middle fingers of the forelimbs expand and flatten, taking the form of a spatula or a hoof. The tail of lemmings is short and covered with a rare fur.


The animals lead a solitary life or nest in pairs, in mink, tortuous and multi-way, which they themselves dig and equip. Around the mink, in their lands, they lay many paths. It is interesting that in winter they will walk on the same routes under snow.

Lemmings swim well, but without special need they will not. Animals are good appetite and can eat constantly. It is estimated that lemming can eat food per day 2 times its weight. The main diet is scanty northern cereals and small berries, all parts of trees and shrubs, tundra moss and lichens. The lemming will not pass by bird eggs and shells, rare worms. With pleasure can bite the dropped deer horns.

Although small, but not so cowardly hoof lemming! Photo of the animal can be misleading. These cute fuzzy are very aggressive in protecting the home, food or offspring - the animal stands on its hind legs and whistles in a peculiar way.

The main link

In conditions of permafrost and meager food, it is lemmings that become the main link in the trophic chain of the predators of the North. Zverek serves as the main prey for such predators as northern weasel, ermine, Arctic fox, fox, wolf and polar owl. Ungulate lemmings ensure their existence and successful survival. For the endangered species of the polar white owl, it is these rodents that make up about 95% of the ration.

Features of reproduction

The more the female brings the cubs, the more food is needed for them. In nature, everything is interconnected: the scarcity of food in the northern latitudes imposes restrictions on the systemic nature with which hoof lemmings multiply. Habitat established reproductive limitations in cycles of reproduction of offspring - in lean years the birth rate ceases.

A female from the age of two months can give birth to six times a year for five to six blind cubs. Two weeks after birth, they already eat the normal food for their development and start to live on their own. It is easy to imagine the population of the hoofed lemmings with a life expectancy of up to two years. That is why, during periods of population growth, lemmings migrate from habitual places, where food is scarce.


Now it is fashionable to start unusual animals as pets. Lemmings are exotic hamsters. The rules for their maintenance and feeding do not differ from those in relation to hamsters. With good content, lemmings can last up to four years. Keep them in pairs or singly. But keep in mind that with abundant nutrition the female will give offspring all six times a year. And do not expect that by winter the pet will turn white. The change in coat color depends on many factors, but the main one is the length of the light day and the ambient temperature.

Legends of mass suicides

During the years of mass breeding hundreds of animals leave their lands and rush to new places in search of food. On the part of the observer of the migration of lemmings, the spectacle can provoke a superstitious horror. A continuous red-brown stream of animals rushes to a barrier, for example, a river or a cliff, and overcomes it. At the same time thousands of animals die. During migration, many die in the teeth and claws of predators.

In fact, animals migrate one by one, just before the obstacle they accumulate in groups, sometimes very large. There is no question of any mass suicide in this case - it is a life-affirming throw! And die, by the way, only those individuals who run in the forefront, paving the way for the rest.

Mystical animals

Indeed, earlier the indigenous inhabitants of the North, observing the mass migration of lemmings, associated this event with unfavorable predictions and even with sacrifices for the inhabitants of other worlds. The year of migration of lemmings was considered dangerous.

Ungulate lemmings were given the qualities of a werewolf due to the peculiarity of the structure of their paws. The peoples of the North have a legend that in the full moon animals turn into sheep rams and drink the blood of wolves. And they say that the eerie whistle of the lemmings portends a great sorrow to those who hear it.

Modern biology has discredited many myths about the life of animals, including lemmings. Without these tiny fluffy animals, the life of the North would be in jeopardy. The trophic chains firmly connect the foxes not only with predators, but also regulate the ratio of flora in biogeocenoses of the tundra and the Arctic regions.

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