Squirrels seem to be carrying a little extra holiday weight this year..
December was unusually mild in 2015. A warmer temperature and absence of ground level frost led to an abundance of food for squirrels to snack on. The average temperature was 4.1 degrees Celsius (39.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the UK average. There has also been an increase in rainfall, creating the perfect warm and wet environment for fungi, nuts, and seeds to grow. Squirrels do not hibernate through the winter. Instead, they eat more during autumn and put on fat stores to see them through the colder months when food is less readily available. Seeing bigger squirrels at this time of year is actually quite normal; however this year’s squirrels are even bigger than usual. The late onset of cold weather this winter has meant squirrels have more food to eat and more time to eat it in. Heavier squirrels have also been reported in Canada and across the U.S. Of course, their size isn’t solely down to eating, but may also be due to their thicker winter coat. Eventually the cold weather will set in, and during this time squirrels don’t tend to eat as much, so it’s likely they’ll lose the extra weight soon.