It is said, when overcrowding becomes an issue, they will run for the sea, throwing themselves off the cliffs for the good of the species. Lemmings can also explode.
No, no and no. When the population becomes too dense, lemmings will seek pastures new – but they do not commit suicide and they do not explode.
Lemmings are a kind of short-tailed vole, a mouse-like rodent that favors tundra and open grasslands. A lemming is a small rodent usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. Lemmings are subnivean animals. They make up the subfamily Arvicolinae (also known as Microtinae) together with voles and muskrats, which forms part of the superfamily Muroidea, which also includes rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils.
Lemmings weigh from 30 to 110 g (1 to 4 oz) and are about 7 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in) long. They generally have long, soft fur, and very short tails. They are herbivorous, feeding mostly on leaves and shoots, grasses, and sedges in particular, but also on roots and bulbs. At times, they will eat grubs and larvae. Like other rodents, their incisors grow continuously, allowing them to exist on much tougher forage than would otherwise be possible.
Lemmings do not hibernate through the harsh northern winter. They are masterful burrowers. They remain active, finding food by burrowing through the snow and using grasses clipped and stored in advance. They are solitary animals by nature, meeting only to mate and then going their separate ways, but like all rodents, they have a high reproductive rate and can breed rapidly when food is plentiful.
Lemmings have large population booms every three or four years. When the concentration of lemmings becomes too high in one area, a large group will set out in search of a new home. Like many other rodents, lemmings have periodic population booms and then disperse in all directions, seeking the food and shelter their natural.
The Norway lemming and brown lemming are two of the few vertebrates which reproduce so quickly that their population fluctuations are chaotic, rather than following linear growth to a carrying capacity or regular oscillations. It is not known why lemming populations fluctuate with such great variance roughly every four years before numbers drop to near extinction. For many years, the population of lemmings was believed to change with the population cycle, but now some evidence suggests their predators’ populations, particularly those of the stoat, may be more closely involved in changing the lemming population.
Lemming behavior and appearance are markedly different from those of other rodents, which are inconspicuously colored and try to conceal themselves from their predators. Lemmings, by contrast, are conspicuously colored and behave aggressively towards predators and even human observers. The lemming defense system is thought to be based on warning display. They use their defense mechanism to attack their predators and humans.
In the below news article we can notice that these pretty looking creatures can be destructive:
When lemmings ATTACK: Aggressive rodents use multicolored fur and loud shrieks to warn predators to stay away
By Richard Gray for Mail Online Published: 6 February 2015
They may have a reputation for committing suicide, but it appears that lemmings actually have a powerful survival mechanism.
Biologists have found that the furry Scandinavian rodents use their multicolored fur and emit loud screams to scare away predators.
They say that the rodents employ a form of aposematism – the use of colors and other signals to warn that an animal is toxic or dangerous.
However, in the case of Norwegian lemmings, they back up the message from their yellow, brown and white fur and loud barking calls with some aggressive biting.
Unlike other rodents, the creatures are known to fight back against attackers with loud screams, lunges and biting their sharp teeth.
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