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The Furballs Are Coming!

The lemming is the smallest mammal in the Arctic - but one of the most important. It is a main source of food for many predators, whose populations rise and fall according to the availability of these little critters.

Lemming populations rise and fall dramatically, usually peaking about every 4 years and then dropping almost to extinction.

With plentiful food supplies, predators flourish, overwhelming the lemmings whose population, with less breeding animals, starts to drop. Soon, the predators have insufficient food, and also start to drop in numbers. Fewer predators gives the lemmings a chance to increase again - until the hunters also start to gain in number. And so it goes...

Click for more information. The lemming population can increase quickly. They reach sexual maturity less than a month after birth, and breed year-round if conditions are right, producing a litter of 6 to 8 young every 3 to 4 weeks.

Since the Middle Ages, people have had myths and legends about where all of the lemmings seemed to suddenly come from.

Some believed the little furballs fell from the sky like rain, while others thought they were searching for their lost homes. Such events were even recorded by priests as an omen that war was coming!

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