How It Works

Do lemmings jump off cliffs?

Lemmings do not commit mass suicide by jumping off cliffs. This myth has been spread by lemmings’ strong migratory nature, with lemmings from colonies that are becoming saturated often driven to crossing dangerous, fast-flowing rivers and difficult terrain to find a new habitat and food source. This can lead to lemmings appearing to jump from cliffs into water or falling from steep terrain, as if attempting suicide.

These mistaken observations have been popularised by movies, television shows and cartoons, depicting lemmings as mindless rodents who follow a leader regardless of the fatal consequences.

Of course, we doubt the video game “Lemmings” helped matters too much either…