Squirrels are getting fatter than usual because of warmest December on record

An unusually mild December meant plenty of extra food to plump them up

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The Independent Online

Grey squirrels in Britain are fatter than usual thanks to an exceptionally warm winter, which has produced an abundance of food for them to help themselves to.

Squirrels usually get plump around this time of the year, but the warmest December on record has seen them get even chubbier.

Temperatures last December were on average 7.9 degrees, 4.1 degrees above the long-term average.

Meteorologists at the Met Office said the UK had a "virtual complete lack of frost", which offered up plenty of food for the squirrels to forage.

Nuts, seeds and fungi were in abundance last December for squirrels

According to nature observer and TV presenter Iolo Williams, the mild yet rainy weather means there has been “no shortage of nuts, seeds, and fungi”.

He told WalesOnline: “With extra layers of fat and thicker winter coat this can make them look much bigger.”

Britons on Twitter have been marvelling at the plush rodents - some of which appear to have gained more than just extra fat:

Squirrels do not hibernate during the winter, but store up fat reserves and grow thicker coats to keep them warm.