The legend of the lemmings is the stuff of how every four years millions of these little rodents hurl themselves in frenzy from Norwegian cliffs and beaches into the sea to drown.
A short-tailed little hamster-like creature, the lemming is normally shy and scarce.
The lives of the lemmings follow a strange four-year cycle, according to The Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts.
The book stated: “In the first year their reproduction is slow, but it builds up during the second and third years, and by the fourth the females are almost continually with young. And then panic – seemingly caused by overcrowding – takes hold, and they quit their habitat in millions in a desperate search for more living space.
“The maniac rush goes on until the lemmings find their flight barred by a river valley or a fiord. Driven by desperation they plunge in madly, but although they are fair swimmers in calm water, even the smallest waves overwhelm them and they inevitably perish.”