Why do lemmings jump off cliffs

Do Lemmings Really Run Off Cliffs to Their Death?

why do lemmings jump off cliffs

A lemming is a small rodent, usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. Lemmings Lemmings do not hibernate through the harsh northern winter. that they are driven to commit mass suicide when they migrate by jumping off cliffs.


Lemmings are small creatures with wild reputations. In the 17th century, naturalists perplexed by the habit of Norway lemmings to suddenly appear in large numbers, seemingly out of nowhere, came to the conclusion that the animals were being spontaneously generated in the sky and then falling to earth like rain. The prosaic truth is that they migrate in herds. Some people also thought that lemmings explode if they become sufficiently angry. This is also a myth, of course—lemmings are indeed one of the more irascible rodents, but they mostly channel their rage into fights with other lemmings. People probably came up with the notion of exploding lemmings after seeing the picked-over lemming carcasses that were left behind following a migration. Instinct, it is said, drives them to kill themselves whenever their population becomes unsustainably large.

But there is one myth that has held on tenaciously: Every few years, herds of lemmings commit mass suicide by jumping off seaside cliffs. So why is the myth of mass lemming suicide so widely believed? For the Disney nature film White Wilderness, filmmakers eager for dramatic.
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A lemming is a small rodent , usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. Lemmings make up the subfamily Arvicolinae also known as Microtinae together with voles and muskrats , which form part of the superfamily Muroidea , which also includes rats , mice , hamsters , and gerbils. Lemmings are quite rounded in shape, with brown and black, long, soft fur. They have a very short tail, a stubby, hairy snout, short legs, and small ears. They have a flattened claw on the first digit of their front feet, which helps them to dig in the snow. They are herbivorous , feeding mostly on mosses and grasses.

We are experiencing technical difficulties. If you are unable to get your harvest ticket or registration permit, please try again later. Section Navigation Section Navigation. Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. It's a myth, but it's remarkable how many people believe it. Ask a few.

Or Not: Do Lemmings Jump to Their Deaths?

Animals are rarely known for their suicidal tendencies. Perhaps because when your daily thought pattern is limited to eat-sleep-defecate, there's no time for existential exegesis or contemplating the futility of life. That is, except for the lemming—a small, furry, gerbil-like rodent that has come to be defined by its alleged tendency to mindlessly kill itself by jumping off of cliffs.


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4 thoughts on “Why do lemmings jump off cliffs

  1. Locals "came to see the lemming as a crazed creature, and a swarm as 'the forerunner of war and disaster,'" writes Henry Nicholls for BBC.

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