Nut case: Squirrel packs on extra pounds during pandemic

The rodent spotted in a garden in Maine has been nicknamed Fatty McFatterson.

Fat squirrel
Fat squirrel

Humans are not the only species packing on extra pounds during the pandemic – some squirrels are letting themselves go too.

Many squirrels are eating well this autumn in New England, but one portly specimen is so big it earned the nickname Fatty McFatterson.

Most squirrels sprint or scoot, but this one lumbers and waddles after supplementing nature’s bounty by helping himself to seeds that fall to the ground from bird feeders.

Fatty McFatterson
Fatty McFatterson in Beth Ditkoff’s garden (Beth Ditkoff/AP)

“He’s clearly the alpha of the yard,” said Beth Ditkoff, of Damariscotta, Maine, told the Associated Press.

“You think of them as scampering around. He’s bah-boom, bah-boom.”

It turns out that many pint-sized rodents are not so pint-sized as they gorge on abundant beech nuts, hazelnuts, acorns and a bumper crop of mushrooms this autumn, Shevenell Webb, a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told the Bangor Daily News.

“Many species of wildlife can pack on some extra pounds, but their thick, fluffy fur coat may also make them appear larger in winter,” she said.

Unlike many other mammals, squirrels do not hibernate, but they spend a fair amount of time in their nests in colder weather.

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