Lagurus lagurus (Pallas, 1773) - Steppe lemming.

Systematic position.

The class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Cricetidae, subfamily Microtinae, genus Lagurus (Gloger, 1841). The species is comprised of 4 subspecies, all are present in the fauna of the former USSR.

Biological group.

Rodent pests.

Morphology and biology.

Body length up to 120 mm; the tail is short, up to 19 mm (about 15% of body length), shorter than hind foot, covered with hairs. Eyes and ears small. The coloration of dorsal fur is monotone, from dark or brownish grey to light, pale yellow, with black longitudinal stripe. Inhabitant of steppe, southern part of forest-steppe and semidesert. A representative of steppe rodents completely adapted to living conditions of open landscapes.


Western Mongolia and Northwest China. In the former USSR-south of the European part, Kazakhstan, the Southern and Middle Ural, Western and Eastern Siberia (including Krasnoyarsk Territory and Khakassia).


Populates various biotopes including agricultural lands. Everywhere burrows "composite holes" similar in structure to those of the Common vole. Usually found in colonies. Animals with semi-underground mode of life, being active during daylight, but only going up to surface for a short while. Similiar to other small rodents, the activity of the species is determined by conditions of thermo exchange and feed. Feeds on different parts of plants, including seeds. Animals need wet forage to lesser extent than the Common vole. Starts to reproduce at the age of 1.5 months under favorable conditions. Up to 6 broods during the year, with 5-6 (up to 12) young voles in each on the average. In the absence of thaws and with sufficient forage the reproduction lasts through the winter season. The number oscillation amplitude in different years is much higher than for other species of voles. Migrations are observed during years of mass outbreaks.

Economic significance.

In places the lemming damages sowings of grain crops and pastures, where it eats away the most valuable species of forage plants. With plowing of virgin and fallow lands in Kazakhstan and Western Siberia, its harmfulness has notably decreased due to worsened conditions for survival and reproduction. In the European part this species has also lost its value as a pest of agricultural crops. A carrier of Tularemia. Control measures are the same as for the Common vole, i.e., maintaining the farming requirements, baits at a number above economical threshold of attack.

Reference citations:

Abaturov B.D. 1964. Influence of steppe lemming activity on soil and plant covering of dry steppes in Kazakhstan. Bulletin MOIP. Biol., 69(6): 24-35. (In Russian)
Formozov A.N., Voronov A.G. 1939. Activity of rodents on pastures and hayfields of Western Kazakhstan and its economic significance. Uchenye zapiski MGU. Zoology, 20: 3-112. (In Russian)
Gromov I.M., Polyakov I.Ya. 1977. Voles (Microtinae). Fauna of the USSR. Mammals. Leningrad: Nauka. V. 3(8): 504. (In Russian)
Naumov N.P. 1948. Essays of comparative ecology of small rodents. Moscow-Leningrad: Izd. AN SSSR. 204 pp. (In Russian)
Polyakov I.Ya. 1966. The harmful rodents and its control. Leningrad: Kolos. 256 pp. (In Russian)

© Karlik F.A.


Web design —
Kelnik studios