This historical study analyzes the little known practice of gathering food resources from rodent stores in Siberia, with comparative perspectives from northern Europe and North America. Until the 19th century, taking roots, tubers, corms, bulbs, seeds and nuts from rodent food stores was a widespread practice by several ethnic groups in Siberia to supplement their diets. Rodents in northern areas, for example the root vole (Microtus oeconomus), depend on a constant food supply and therefore collect large quantities of plants in their underground caches. Often, but not only during colder seasons, Siberian peoples collected these high-quality plant parts from the voles. Some plundered the stores completely, but others left food or other objects for the animals so that they would survive and gather more the following year. In the circumpolar area ceremonies were held, presenting the rodents with gifts that were valued in human society.
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Vol. 30 • No. 2