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Collared lemming
Common Name:

Collared lemming

Scientific Name:

Dicrostonyx torquatus

Unique Qualities:

The collared lemming looks like a fat furry hamster. It has smaller ears and tails than other rodents. The collared lemming has strong legs and claws for digging. It only grows claws in the winter and loses them during the summer. It is the only true rodent that turns white in the winter making it look like a big cotton ball. Collared lemmings have adapted to the cold weather in the Arctic with the use of their claws, fur, and the short ears and tail.

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Can be Seen:

Collared lemmings are only found in the Arctic tundra. Their distribution is limited to northern North America and Greenland.

Likes to Hang Out:

During the summer, collared lemmings live on the high, dry areas of the tundra. During the winter, collared lemmings move to lower meadows where there is more snow. They use snow as insulation and burrow under the snow, rocks or ground making extensive runways and nesting areas. Collared lemmings line their nests with dry grasses, feathers, and muskox fur.

Likes to Eat:

The collared lemming eats mainly plants, roots, berries and lichen. In summer, its main foods are tender shoots of grasses and shrubs. During the winter, they eat seeds that they have previously gathered and stored in the tunnels. It likes to eat bark and twigs off willow and dwarf birch. It may eat insects and meat if available.


The status of the collared lemming is considered undetermined. Even though female lemmings give birth to up to eight babies every five weeks, few lemmings live over a year in the wild and just over 3 years in captivity. The high number of lemmings provides food for many animals. Its main predators are the arctic fox, ermines, snowy owls, and falcons.


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