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WikiProject Mammals (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
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Drowned Lemming[edit]

Does this article really need a picture of a drowned lemming? That's disturbing as hell. --Banyan (talk) 00:38, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Mammal radiation[edit]

What the hell is that? (talk) 21:08, 2 November 2008 (UTC)genevieve


Looks like the page has been vandalized. Someone who knows how to revert should probably do so.

reverted Jon513 22:44, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

The lemmings hole up in under ground caves to stay warm and the snow melt washed them out as the melt run off builds up pretty fast robbing them of the high areas in the caves and the turbulence caused them to mix instead of float so the wash out as puffs as each major cave is completely flooded. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:20, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Picture please[edit]

A picture of a lemming would be excellent for this page. (Taken care of) Redwolf24

The title above the picture says "Lemmings", but the picture is of a single lemming... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:28, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Disney movie[edit]

I think the large section about that Disney movie has nothing to do in an article on the lemming. I would remove this section to to a new article under the film title, and just refer to this article concerning the lemming suicide myth. -- Peter Kristoffersen

Since there's already an article on White Wilderness, this makes sense to me. Done. --Paul A 06:32, 4 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I think the section should stay here. I was just trying to prove the point to coworkers, that the myth about lemmings jumping of cliffs is just that -- a myth. The article on lemmings was therefore ideal place to seek the information about this particular myth. And so I've found it here, together with its source. User:rrw
Yes, but the statement about White Wilderness is completely untrue. Having just watched the film, there are no "migrations of lemmings through snow covered turntables" or anything else mentioned in the Snopes article. It should be noted that Snopes is also not a final authority, but a private, for-profit website that does its best to debunk urban legends. It does not cite it's own sources on the film, for that matter. In the migration scenes, there is no snow even visible, and the sea can be seen plainly in the background. The film was filmed in several Provinces, and not just Alberta.
Most troubling is the fact that the Disney movie disputes the suicide myth, and specifically mentions the probability that the Lemmings are looking for greener pastures, perhaps unaware of the distance (they refer to it as thinking of it is perhaps a lake which can be crossed)-- (talk) 01:20, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
I have just removed the Disney claim. Not only is it incorrect as demonstrated by the movie's own narration, but the Snopes article used as a reference here just claims as it's own reference a CBC report, which is not linked. The movie clearly states that the lemmings, while appearing to "commit suicide", rather sometimes die in their attempt to migrate across bodies of water after population spikes. If you want to put this back, please give a better citation that can be verified regarding the claims of staging, and explain why the movie disclaiming the notion of suicide somehow propagates the myth of suicide.-- (talk) 07:42, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Changing 'American Slang' to 'Slang', since it is not just American, as evidenced by 'Alexander Lemming' in the long-running 'Calamity James' strip in The Beano. Also, it absolutely has it's place in an article on Lemmings, since it is what most people think of when they hear 'lemming'.
Anyone else think that it should be expressly stated that Lemmings don't become suicidal, rather than suggested by the text? It's a simple fact that it isn't true.. Lemmings simply migrate when there is a population boom, and most of their deaths are simply a result of accidents in moving to unfamiliar territory.--Vercalos 00:19, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
So while suicidal might not be exactly correct, seemingly suicidal behavior and usually-fatal migration are accurate. I'd jump off a cliff too if I had a very thick crowd of charging humans behind me. The alternative is to get trampled to death. 08:09, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
So, does no one else believe that, at best, the first paragraph in Population Fluctuations (as of June 01, 2006) is more suitable under Popular Culture? Byakuren 21:00, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

The paragraph that says that its is a myth that Lemmings kill themselves is contradicted by the next paragraph that says that Lemmings fail to avoid obvious dangers. Most of this talk page talks about the "myth" of Lemming suicide, yet the page itself says that Lemmings fall off cliffs or drown themselves. Nobody (I hope) is stupid enough to think that Lemmings do it because they want to, but they obviously do die when they could have avoided the danger easily. I think that the Myth that Lemming Suicide is a Myth needs to be purged from this article. (but I'm not enough of a punk to just do it) John

Just seen QI on BBC 4 (next week's edition) and one of their "Wrong answers" was that Disney invented the lemming uicide myth. Apparently it's been found as far back as a 1908 encyclopaedia, I didn't catch the name. I've added this but have left the Disney reference as I'm guessing that's what really popularised it. Also random blog post on it, linking to an article? Rawling 22:07, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm just reading Colin Wilson's "The Occult" in which he states that Lewis Spence put forward the "Norwegian Lemmings leap into the ocean and drown" idea as evidence of Atlantis, which he reckoned they were trying to swim to. Spence seems to have written his Atlantis books in the 1920's so that would entirely rule out a 1958 Disney movie as the source of the "myth".

More on Disney Movie[edit]

It is true that the film does not verbally describe the behaviour as mass suicide, however it is clearly true that:

  • the film scenes regarding lemming migration and behaviour are completely faked and staged.
  • the film scenes are very likely to evoke the impression of a behaviour that is practically equivalent to mass sucicide. Maybe the original intention of the film was not this but the result is well known.
  • the film was very influential in the formation of a myth that was previously not widely known.

For most viewers it does not make a difference whether the lemmings jump into death out of supidity, short sightedness or because of having made the decission to commit suicide. Most scientists and many layman would probably consider the mere idea that lemmings "decide to commit suicide" as utterly ridiculous and yet - the myth is the "lemming mass suicide" myth and not the "lemming accidental mass death during migration" myth. And maybe these two myths should be debunked separately?

Yet another aspect is that the movie has been translated into many languages and possibly redacted over time. So it is rather difficult to argue what exactly the narration says. While at first glance this might appear irrelevant for the english wikipedia it is another reminder that in a movie the pitures are more important than the words.

Richiez (talk) 17:41, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

evidence that lemmings do indeed have group suicide reactions in migration[edit]

I dunno what the policy is on posting links to other sites in discussion, but here:

It's a documentary video that shows and explains how lemmings drown in massive numbers because of a sort of group-think impulse to swim across barriers of migration. They swim in the oceans together until they are exhausted and drown. Xyad 23:01, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Isn't this the video that started the rumour? Don't beleive false sources. I watched on TV that you were wrong. On ANIMAL PLANET. Kimera Kat 00:54, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

20 grams?![edit]

How can they weigh 20 grams? 1) they have to weigh much more than 2 grams per centimeter 2) look how fat it is!! Redwolf24 00:35, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

I imagine much of their size is purely made up of fur, stick your finger in a gerbil (that is, it's fur, not an of it's orifices).. there is quite alot of a way to go before you actually hit it's body.
I believe that is quite common for rodents, actually, I heard that a chinchilla could get through much narrower pipes than would be expected, looking at its size.

The myth that Lemmings commit suicide was not created by Disney in it's film released in 1958 as Arthur C Clark wrote a short story regarding this myth published in March 1953 in Dynamic Science Fiction.

Predates that, too. (Good story, though). Disney was much more effective at popularising the already-existing myth widely than Clarke was, though... Shimgray | talk | 18:54, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Article is Equivocal[edit]


"The actual reason for their 'suicide' deaths is because lemmings have notoriously poor eyesight and cannot distinguish a small river, which they can easily cross, from a fjord, in which they will almost surely drown."


"In fact, the behavior of lemmings is much the same as that of many other rodents which have periodic population booms and then disperse in all directions, seeking the food and shelter that their natural habitat cannot provide. (The Australian Long-haired Rat is one example.)"

This article does a really bad job of making it clear whether lemmings do or do not die in unusually enormous quantities.

The references are for the most part sub-academic, and most appear to have, like the article itself, a fixation on White Wilderness.

So, 3 Questions: Do lemmings die in large quantities? Is that behavior unusual for rodents? Where is your source attributing this to poor eyesight?

I agree, I came to read about their mass suicide being a rumor and this page barely addresses what actually happens. Also, the whole thing about the Walt Disney movie seems extremely out of place. Futhermore the last paragraph of the Population Fluctuations section says that the are "one of the only" should it say "some of the only"? --Nick 16:15, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Vandalism 2[edit]

Someone vandalized this page, I took off the vandal's message, but the text is still cut. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Thanks for letting us know. It was hard to track down the source of the vandalism. Powers 14:40, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

(Vandalism) Uh, That Was Me[edit]

Sorry, I just REALLY hate lemmings.And the fact that I'm a teenager may have something to do with it...Hm. Anyway I won't do it again. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Do ye mean the dots? Frodo 11011 10:22, 14 March 2007 (UTC)


When I searched for "lemmings" or "lemming" it took me to the video game, this should be fixed —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Searching for "Lemming" brings you here. "Lemmings" takes you to the video game. Both articles have links to the other. That's about the best we can do. Powers T 20:26, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

code problems[edit]

the side box with info seems to overlap with the first section, is there anyone who knows wikicode well enough to fix it? --voodoom 04:18, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Done, although I'm not really happy with the position of the Wiktionary box. Powers T 15:09, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

so /do/ they jump off cliffs?[edit]

Yes or no (and by the way this is the number 1 reason anyone would visit this page.) there are 3-4 references to this "reputation" they have, from popular literature -- so is it a well-founded reputation???

No. The article say quite clearly (in the Population fluctuations section) that lemming suicide behaviour is a myth, propogated by the Disney film White Wilderness. It also gives a link to this page which debunks the myth. Gandalf61 11:22, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
  • It probably needs looking into further. On QI, Stephen Fry said that while Disney may have contributed to the myth, they were not the ones to start it. It's probably a good idea to find out who did. - Mgm|(talk) 12:44, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
This article by George Wald (supposedly about death, though a lot of it is about hunger in animals and their response to it) seems to support the theory. If there is a cliff in the way, they probably jump off it. I'm not too familiar with the science behind animals swimming off into the ocean to die, but it clearly happens - how else do stoats find their way onto islands? I imagine they get hungry, run in any particular direct looking for food, and if they come across a sea in their path they try to swim across it. Richard001 08:05, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
There may be more to this than just the "cliff jumping". Reading the George Wald article makes me question if all lemmings migrate or just certain ones. I've lived in the arctic for over 30 years and I've never seen a mass migration of lemmings. However, it may be that the lemmings on Victoria Island are the only ones that don't migrate but I've not heard anyone else from other communities discuss the migration habits. I think that while I've seen hundreds of lemmings over the years I have never seen more than 2 or 3 at once. CambridgeBayWeather (Talk) 00:53, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

We had a great lesson in school when we did nothing except decided that Lemmings do jump off of cliffs in Biology 09phippsj (talk) 13:12, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

South Park reference[edit]

I removed the following from the "in popular culture" section:

Lemmings are also mentioned on South Park---(LemmingWinks)

First, it's not clear if the author was signing his handle, "LemmingWinks", or if he was mistakenly referring to South Park's gerbil king Lemmiwinks (who isn't a lemming). Either way, it's wrong, and I don't think "mentioned on South Park" is noteworthy. If there's a specific episode(s) that substantially involve lemmings, that would be. -- 03:47, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

It looks like vandalism did not go away[edit]

The first line of this page looks like this to me

Lemmings are small fishs, usually found in or near the puddles of water from rain. Together with the birds and pigss, they make up the subfamily dewsh (also known as Microtinae), which forms part of the largest mammal radiation by far, the superfamily Muroidea, which also includes the rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils.

On the edit page, this paragraph seems to be proper. Can anyone correct it? 07:05, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Try clearing your cache. CambridgeBayWeather (Talk) 09:09, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

Factual accuracy disputed[edit]

I've added a {{disputed}} template to this page as I feel that some of the uncited statements in it are somewhat unbelievable. If anyone can verify these statements and provide citations to prove that they are true, then please do so. In particular, I'm referring to this claim in the article:

"there was much speculation in learned circles that lemmings were in fact spontaneously generated by conditions of the air."

gorgan_almighty 13:39, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

owning a lemimng[edit]

can you buy lemmings and if so where? They are adoriable and i would really like to get one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:34, 28 December 2007 (UTC)


It appears that the edit on February 16, 2008 added content not about the subject of the page. See the section on Behavior which now contains:

Like Mortgage Brokers.

Will often be confused by rallying markets after dismal employment reports, can sometimes be found wearing adult diapers on the exchange floor.

The second line is repeated further down in the article.

Newbridge23 (talk) 19:13, 7 March 2008 (UTC)


What sort of sounds to lemmings make? Abaldet (talk) 17:14, 24 March 2008 (UTC)


io:Lemingo —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Is the Myth of No Suicide a Myth?[edit]

If large numbers of Norwegian lemmings in fact do jump/swim into bodies of water in peak years, and die, doesn't a behavior leading directly to death constitute suicide?

We have no idea what they're thinking -- but pointing a gun at your head and pulling the the trigger would still be called a "suicidal act", even by a deranged person who didn't understand the consequences of the behavior.

So isn't the "myth that lemmings commit suicide" itself -- as regards Norwegian lemmings -- a myth, a sort of anti-populist hyper-correction?

He's got a point[edit]

When people think of lemmings and suicide, I'd hope that (in most cases) they don't believe the rodents are literally succumbing to clinical depression.

The article states:

...large migrating groups [of Norway lemmings] will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death

Assuming this is correct: in what sense are lemmings not killing themselves? drone5 (talk) 03:13, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

uspn (talk) 07:39, 24 February 2009 (UTC): Well, a lot of them are not really jumping, they're just being pushed off the cliff by the mass of lemmings approaching the cliff. And even when they hit the water, they just start swimming, as they have done previously on their journey to cross rivers and lakes. If they were suicidal, they'd just let themselves drown.

Vandalism 3[edit]

i bet a fiver rodents arnt pies... someone vandalised here! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:19, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Encyclopedia Britannica[edit]

moving this fragment of the main article here. It appears to be attributed to EB, however I found no primary sources that would substantiate that the phenomenon occurs in noteworthy numbers or in fact that it occurs at all. Various sources describe why the norwegian lemming became the subject of so many myths but can not find any that would mention this particular detail - see eg or . Could please someone doublecheck the original EB article and see if it has any references of quality? Richiez (talk) 20:08, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming. They then swim to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore.[1]

Major Problems[edit]

The "myth" section has serious issues. It's written as if its an entirely unsupported belief, rather than just an exaggeration of a known phenomenon. When lemmings migrate, they do not commit suicide en masse, but they do exhibit counter survival behaviors. They will migrate through dangerous predator-heavy regions, taking tremendous losses, swim lengthy distances till many die of drowning or exhaustion and even yes, when pressed by enough numbers behind them, be forced off cliffs into water.

The most basic version of the "lemming myth" has nothing to do with suicide at all, just that lemmings blindly, stupidly follow each other into dangerous situations...and in this form, it is not entirely least during migratory periods. Fell Gleaming(talk) 01:41, 8 May 2010 (UTC)

Why exactly is the word "myth" being used? First, the section does not describe what the "myth" is. Then it continues to describe the myth with facts that seem to support my idea of this "myth". Angry bee (talk) 04:34, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

1883 reference to lemming suicide[edit]

I came across a passing reference to lemmings drowning during migration in this 1883 article in The American Naturalist.

"We say it is instinct that drives the Norwegian lemmings to go west periodically in millions until they are drowned in the idle attempt to swim across the Atlantic" & "The faculty that carries the lemming to destruction..."

Note that this is a passing reference to lemming suicide (the article is focused on cicada behavior, not lemmings), and as such appears to be a well accepted "fact" by the time the article was written. Also, this is a biological journal. While we'd expect biologists to know better, lemmings we probably poorly studied at that point in time. Lemming suicide may have been a "fact" accepted by biologists in 1883, but it's not clear from this article if the lemming suicide meme was known to the general public. (talk) 15:13, 22 July 2010 (UTC)


I came to this article wondering if anyone domesticates lemmings as pets, as people do with hamsters, rats, gerbils, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other rodents. Googling around, I saw that Steppe Lemmings are common pets, but those are actually voles rather than lemmings.

Then again, squirrels are common rodents too, but they are seldom seen as pets — perhaps for similar reasons? ~Amatulić (talk) 23:38, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Kids around here may catch them sometimes and keep them for a few days until they die or escape but I've never heard of them being kept as pets. Enter CBW, waits for audience applause, not a sausage. 23:54, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
That's odd. I wonder why. Do they smell bad? ...But then again, odor doesn't keep people from keeping ferrets in the house. Anyway, I was curious about how these critters do in captivity, but I guess it's so uncommon to keep them (let alone raise or breed them) that nobody really knows. ~Amatulić (talk) 01:39, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
a quick google search says you can buy them in pet stores (talk) 08:23, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Not the same thing. That page is about caring for Steppe Lemmings, which, as I said in my first paragraph above, are not actually lemmings, but voles. ~Amatulić (talk) 14:26, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Lemming Metaphor.[edit]

Linguist scholar, Noam Chomsky is not averse to using the Lemming metaphor to describe human behaviour, see: 'Noam Chomsky answers questions after delivering speech at the University of Maryland Friday, January 27, 2012' ; You Tube, ----


I need help! I added a reference from the Showtime series The Borgias, but it ended up pointing to a disamb.. whatever you call those pages... instead of to the correct Borgias Showtime series page. I don't know how to fix this. Please help... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Samantha1961 (talkcontribs) 23:00, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Photo camouflage[edit]

I have uploaded a photo showing the perfect lemming camougflage when still on a rock. May be somebody that has right can mofify and put this picture. The black spot are mimicking black lichen and the yellow pink some other type of clear lichen on mountain rocks. File:Http:// camouflage.JPG — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kervennic (talkcontribs) 00:49, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

References to TV references[edit]

References to TV references should include the Only Fools and Horses episode Christmas Crackers — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thezerocool83 (talkcontribs) 12:32, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Lemming metaphor in songs[edit]

Should be added: Jethro Tull's "Moths" (1978) song mentions the lemming suicide metaphor: "Life's too long (as the Lemming said)...".

DOL (talk) 16:06, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Seems that "Cruel Camera" may have gotten wrong - any better sources?[edit]

The Cruel Camera doc claims that a turntable was used to "fling" the lemmings off the cliff, a claim which is reproduced here. Every other source I've seen on this refers separately to the use of turntables to film fake migration footage, and to lemmings being herded off the cliff by people off-camera, but I can find no other reference to the unlikely claim that the turntable was used to force them off the cliff (and for that matter, I have a hard time imagining how one would even accomplish this). Anyone able to find other sources not citing that doc that explain this claim at all? Bolddeciever (talk) 17:40, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree, it would be difficult to predict at which point of the turntables' revolution when the lemming would "fly". Eben if (by practice and error) one could figure out the 'sweet spot', even at 78rpm, the turntable would need to be right at the edge of the cliff, making filming it fraught with error L-Bit (talk) 06:28, 28 September 2013 (UTC)