Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Do Lemmings Really Run Off Cliffs To Their Death?

By Gerard @presurfer
Do Lemmings Really Run Off Cliffs To Their Death?image credit: Frode Inge Helland cc
Animals are rarely known for their suicidal tendencies. That is, except for the lemming - a small, furry, gerbil-like rodent that has come to be defined by its alleged tendency to mindlessly kill itself by jumping off of cliffs. However, the long-lived myth actually has its roots in Hollywood trickery.
It turns out that there is no proof that an assemblage of wild lemmings would actually drive themselves off of a cliff at all, but rather the myth was perpetuated by a 1958 Disney documentary called White Wilderness, in which the filmmakers manually ran a pack of lemmings off of a cliff to make for good television.

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