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voles and lemmings


There are about 151 species of voles and lemmings , which are found throughout North America and Eurasia. They are usually small, mouse-sized animals but this group includes muskrats, which reach almost 2 kg. Voles and lemmings are round-bodied, with small, rounded ears that are partially covered with fur, small eyes, usually short tails, and short legs.

Voles and lemmings are found mainly in grassland habitats, though they can be found in a variety of habitats, and muskrats live in and near water. They eat mainly leafy parts of plants and have cheek teeth with complex ridges that allow them to chew these tough foods.

Members of this group have high rates of reproduction and population levels of these animals often undergo repeated cycles over several years. During these cycles, populations increase to extremely high levels and then crash. The populations of some predators, such as foxes and snowy owls, follow the population cycles of voles and lemmings, their main food.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Arvicolinae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 04, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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