Friday, 8 January 2016

Britain's squirrels are getting fat thanks to the warm winter

Last month was the warmest December on record meaning lots of extra food available to fatten up hungry squirrels

9:09AM GMT 06 Jan 2016

We can all be guilty of over-eating during the winter - and it seems Britain’s squirrel population is no exception.

The small furry creatures might need to join their human friends in going on a diet this January after piling on the pounds thanks to an exceptionally mild winter.

Last month was the warmest December on record, with average temperatures of 7.9C, 4.1C above the long-term average.

Wildlife experts said that the unusually balmy temperatures meant more food was available than usual, allowing the squirrels to fatten up.

Squirrels do not hibernate, but in the cooler months they put on up to a quarter of their body weight in fat reserves to keep them warm. They also grow a thicker winter coat which can make them appear bigger.

“With the extra layers of fat and thicker winter coat this can make them look much bigger.”
Iolo Williams, Wildlife Expert

However, the survival technique has gone further than normal this year, with fatter than ever squirrels being spotted in parks.

TV presenter and nature expert Iolo Williams said there was a plentiful supply of nuts and seeds available still for squirrels to gorge on.

He told Wales Online: “Because of the mild wet weather there has been an abundance of food for squirrels. There has been no shortage of nuts, seeds and fungi for them to eat and store.

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