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MAMMALS » SMALL
Southern Bog Lemming

Southern Bog Lemming
Synaptomys cooperi

The Southern Bog Lemming is the only lemming which occurs in Tennessee, and it is found state-wide. Lemmings are legendary for their population fluctuations leading to alterations in their predator-prey relationships.

Description
: A small, thick-bodied mammal with a large head, short snout, short legs, and a very short tail about equal to the hind foot length. The long, coarse fur is brownish above mixed with gray, black, and yellow, and the underside is gray to silver. They have small eyes and the ears are mostly concealed in the fur.
Length: 3.8 - 6.0 inches
Tail: 0.5 - 1.3 inches
Ear: 0.3 - 0.6 inches
Weight: 0.5 - 2.0 ounces

Similar Species:

  • Meadow Vole is larger and has a much longer tail.
  • Woodland Vole has a reddish-brown fur coat.
  • **Southern Bog Lemming can often not be separated from similar species without detailed analysis of dental formulas and possibly an expert.

Habitat
: Prefers low areas of moist, grassy fields, meadows, or swamps with thick vegetation; also occurs less frequently in bogs and damp woods. They use runways, like voles, and make underground tunnels for nesting, feeding, resting, and food storage.

Diet:
Primarily eats vegetation such as stems, leaves, grasses, sedges, and seeds; however, fungi and invertebrates are occasionally consumed.

Breeding information:
They breed primarily in the spring and fall, but can breed any time of year. Nests are made in side chambers off the main underground tunnels. Females are pregnant 21-23 days before giving birth to 1-7 (usually 3-5) young. Females can raise several litters a year and can be both nursing and pregnant.

Status in Tennessee:
Southern Bog Lemmings are Deemed in Need of Management by both TWRA and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. They are uncommon in the state.

Fun Facts
:

  • Southern Bog Lemmings are colonial and can number from a few up to 20 or 30 individuals.
  • They excrete bright green fecal pellets due to the large amount of green vegetation consumed.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Low areas of wet fields or swamps.

For more information:

Sources:
Schwartz, C.W. and E.R. Schwartz. 2001. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2nd Edition. University of Missouri Press and Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO.