Have you noticed that Maryland squirrels have gotten rather chubby this winter? Whether you drive through country roads or walk through public parks, you’ve probably stopped to marvel at a furry, chunky fluff-ball of a squirrel at least once this season. And despite their evident weight gain, the squirrels you saw were probably munching on more food! Why have squirrels gotten so fat? And what does this mean for Maryland homeowners? We’ll answer these and other questions in a bit. But first, here is one chunky squirrel spotted in Wisconsin.
Why Are Squirrels Getting Fatter?
First of all, there is nothing unusual about squirrels gaining weight in the fall and winter. They do this so that they can survive winter when temperatures drop and food resources are scarce. Squirrels don’t hibernate, so in winter they live off the nut stashes they prepared beforehand, as well as go out to forage for more periodically. And when the temperatures drop below freezing, they have nice padding of fat to keep them warm and provide energy.
However, this winter has been rather mild in many parts of the world, including Canada, the UK, and the United States. Maryland is no exception—we’ve seen t-shirt weather around Christmas. This unnatural warmth has allowed squirrels to feed later in the season, which in turn caused them to gain a bit more weight than usual. In addition to the warm weather that allows squirrels to stay outside and forage, there has also been a boom in the number of nuts and seeds this year. Local Maryland and DC oak trees have produced massive amounts of acorns at the end of 2015. Hickory trees and black walnut trees also had a plentiful harvest. This abundance of food leaves plenty of opportunities for squirrels to overindulge and expand beyond their normal winter chubbiness.
What Does This Mean for Maryland Homeowners?
At this point, seeing a fat squirrel probably makes you chuckle and puts a smile on your face. However, the fact that so many squirrels are not only surviving winter but are doing better than just fine should worry you a bit. Consider that each of the female squirrels that makes it through the winter will give birth to 2-6 baby squirrels this spring. If this squirrel is living in your attic, that’s 2-6 little squirrels chewing on your rafters and electrical wiring. In view of the squirrel population boom expected this spring in many areas of Maryland, it’s worth taking some precautions to protect your home. Because homes in Germantown, Gaithersburg, Rockville, and many other Maryland locations often have wooden soffits and siding, it’s easy for squirrels to chew through these surfaces and enter your attic. At Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control, we can help you by evaluating any weak points and squirrel-proofing the exterior of your home. And if you suspect that one of these chubby squirrels has already taken up a residence in your attic, we’ll be happy to humanely evict it for you, just give us a call!