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The nature of the Norwegian lemming: ‘bloodthirsty, hairy berserkers’ | Helen Sullivan

The lemmings didn’t jump – they were pushed

  • The Nature of … is a column dedicated to interesting animals, insects, plants and natural phenomena

A Norwegian lemming looks like a larger, slightly cleverer and much more irate hamster. Their underside fur is biscuit-coloured. On top they wear a mottled calico.

The BBC, in a 2015 documentary episode in which a lemming repeatedly charges a full-sized house cat – and then attacks the rock on to which the house cat has leapt in fear – called them “bloodthirsty, hairy berserkers”.

Related: ‘The platypuses were glowing’: the secret light of Australia’s marsupials

They are good swimmers but sometimes misjudge the breadth of the cold water and drown

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