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March Of The Lemmings

Written by Herb Rose

Lemmings are cute furry rodents with rounded ears and short tails that live in the arctic. They survive by search the cold rough terrain for moss, grass and lichen, scratching out a subsistence existence.

They are, however, an important part of the ecosystems of the arctic since there are other animals that depend on them to provide the food for them to survive. In the winter the lemmings do not get to migrate to warmer climes like the islands and Florida like the more fortunate animals and they do not get to sleep through hard times by hibernating.

During the bitter arctic winter, when conditions are at their worst and it is tough to do anything, they must continue to work building tunnels under the snow to search for enough food to survive, trying to make it until spring on a scarce and dwindling source of food.

If this weren’t difficult enough they have to also be wary of arctic foxes who exploits them as a resource for their use. A fox will wander around on top of the snow and when he hears the poor lemming searching for food he will pounce and collapse the tunnel on the lemming. It then will dig the lemming out as a snack.

In spring, when conditions finally start to improve the lemming must then deal with the male arctic owl, who will catch as many lemmings as he can, then take them back to the nest to impress his lady friend and show her how much resources he can provide for her and the children.

Legend has it that when things get to tough and resources become scarce the lemmings give up hope, then gather as a herd and run off a cliff, committing mass suicide. This legend was reinforced by a Disney nature documentary were the poor animals were herded off a cliff by the moviemakers. (Is that where Attenbourough learned to make documentaries?)

It turns out this legend is not true and that when the resources at one location are depleted the lemmings gather together, for safety, in order to migrate to better ground. They may, by accident, go over a cliff since there are no maps for them to follow in the arctic. It’s a hard life for the lemming.

There is another myth about lemmings that they can blow themselves, exploding like a suicide bomber. This legend came about from people observing bits of lemming scattered around that made it look like an animal had exploded. It turns out, despite their cute and cuddly appearance, lemmings are quite vicious and the scattered pieces of lemming are the result of lemmings attacking another lemming.

Today we have a new herd of lemmings on the march to a cliff. First they were told that the journey would help to save them and they should go. Next they were offered bribes and incentives to make the journey then threats were used to scare them into making the trip.

Now they are demanding they make the march and take their children with them, even though the trip is far more dangerous for the children than having them remain where they are.

Soon they will discover that they are not actually going to greener pastures and safety but to a final resting place.

When this revelation occurs they will turn and re-examine those urging them to go and discover that they are not going on the trek and really aren’t lemmings but weasels who intend to take there territory and the one who was supposed to be looking after them is a weasel faced rat who betrayed their trust and his duty. When the lemmings finally realize what the journey is really for, we will then see if they do that other lemming thing.

Civilization is a thin veneer while the animal goes to the bone, especially when it involves the children. Italy is a civilized and cultured country, but look at what the Italian lemmings did to the bodies of Mussolini and his entourage after they executed them.

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