Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Dicrostonyx groenlandicus

Nearctic Collared Lemming

Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae

Image of Dicrostonyx groenlandicus
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Nearctic Collared Lemmings live farther north than any other rodent, making their homes on the Arctic tundra. They are among the few North American mammals to turn completely white in winter. Lessening day length triggers other changes as well: they gain weight, sometimes almost doubling their body mass, and develop forked claws for digging through snow and ice. When day length increases in spring, the changes are reversed, and the animal's coat becomes grayish-buff to dark gray. Collared lemmings inhabit high, dry, rocky areas of the tundra. In winter, they may move to meadows at lower elevations.

Also known as:
Northern Varying Lemming, Northern Hoofed Lemming, Northern Collared Lemming

Average: 145 mm
Range: 110-177 mm

Range: 30-112 g


Traill, T.S., 1823. In Scoresby, Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale Fishery, p. 416.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Dicrostonyx groenlandicus