If you feel like you’ve put on more weight than usual this season, you’re not alone.
Mild winter weather in the U.K. and parts of the U.S. and Canada is making squirrels unusually fat this year.
“Mild temps often mean less energy investment in maintaining body temperature and thus more to go to storing food, either as fat or by burying tree seeds," John Koprowski, a professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, told The Huffington Post in an email.
Koprowski, a noted squirrel expert, also said that warmer temperatures and less snow mean it’s less energy-intensive for squirrels to find (and eat) fat and protein-rich food sources like acorns and walnuts.
Anecdotal reports of portly squirrels in the midwestern and eastern U.S., as well as surrounding the Canadian cities of Ottawa and Toronto, have been circulating since December. But a BBC report this week revealed that squirrels across the pond are looking chubbier than usual, too.
Researcher David Sugarman told Metro Toronto last month that the extra ounces likely don’t pose any health risks, since he expects the squirrels to ultimately lose the weight when the weather does get colder.
“If the squirrel were able to stay chubby all year round, it might decrease its longevity," he said.
Also on HuffPost: