Although not a main food source, lemmings were eaten by several cultures. Inuit in the Keewatin District of the Northwest Territories occasionally ate lemmings [1, 2] and lemmings were reported to be of limited importance to Iglulik and Netsilik Inuit .
Inupiat of Point Barrow, Northwestern Alaska caught northern collared lemmings from January into the summer months, although they were seldom seen in winter. Similar to Norwegians, they believed that in stormy weather, these lemmings would fall down from the sky . Inupiat of Point Barrow, Northwestern Alaska also caught brown lemmings in June and July .
The northern bog lemming was caught and occasionally eaten in north-central Saskatchewan by Red Earth Cree and Shoal Lake Cree .
Inuit are also reported heal cuts and boils by placing a dry lemming skin over wounds .
1. Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.
2. Pattimore JH: Toward Inuit Self-Sufficiency in the Keewatin District, N.W.T. In.; 1983.
3. Eidlitz K: Food and Emergency Food in the Circumpolar Area. In.; 1969.
4. Murdoch AM: Mammals. In: Report of the International Polar Expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska. edn. Edited by Ray PH. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1885.
5. Bilby JW: Arctic Flora and Fauna. In: Among Unknown Eskimo. edn. London: Seeley Service Co. Limited; 1923.
Lemmings are a group of small, cold-climate rodents that include the northern collared lemming (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus), the brown lemming (Lemmus sibiricus), and the northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis).
Lemmings are part of the largest mammal family, which also includes mice, rats, and voles. They most closely resemble voles with their compact body, shortened tail, rounded head, and small eyes and ears, unlike mice that have a more pointed head, a longer tail, and larger ears. Like other members of the same family, they have a high reproductive potential, having multiple fast growing litters per year, and are important prey for many northern predators.
Forsyth A: Mammals of North America: Temperate and arctic regions. Willowdale, ON: Firefly Books; 1999.