I had heard reports that for the first time in many many years there has been an unusually large explosion in the Lemming (Lemmus lemmus) population in the mountains. This used to happen on a regular cycle every four years but now it is a much rarer occurrence to have such a large increase in population and no one seems to know why the increase occurs.
The Lemming is a large rodent up to 15cms long and easy to spot due to its variegated colours of black, yellow and rusty brown. Density of Lemmings in very good years can be up to 250 per hectare. When the population density becomes to high the Lemmings travel to other areas, crossing streams and rivers and covering great distances.
A female Lemming can have 6 litters per year and a litter will consist of up to 12 young. The young females become sexually mature at 20 days old.
Having never seen a Lemming I decided to walk up to the top of Dundret mountain in Gallivare on Wednesday
to see if I could find any
There was a very cold northerly wind and it was snowing, with a temperature of about -5 degrees.
I spent three hours searching what looked like good habitat
There was much vole spore
but nothing to suggest that Lemmings were there.
I had to shelter behind a small rock to make fire and cook food and coffee, using dead Pine and Juniper as fuel
Today however, we decided to drive along the road to Ritsem to see if we could find any Lemmings.
We had probably driven about 25kms when we started seeing Lemmings which had been run over on the road
and it wasn’t too long before we saw our first Lemming running across the road. I had to chase after several before I finally caught up with one
We saw about 15 live ones in total and this one was particularly obliging as we drove back home