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Can wild animals become overweight? © Berufstierrettung Rhein Neckar

Can wild animals become overweight?

Asked by: Meghana Vipin

In 2019, firefighters in the German town of Bensheim rescued a chubby rat that had become stuck trying to squeeze itself through a small gap in a manhole cover. The rotund rodent was sent on its way with a valuable life lesson: that overeating isn’t necessarily a good idea.


Overweight animals are slow and vulnerable to predation, so don’t last long. The animals we think of as fat – seals, walruses and polar bears – aren’t overweight at all. Their blubber is an adaptation that offers buoyancy, insulation and energy storage, so sometimes it’s all about survival of the fattest.

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Helen Pilcher
Helen PilcherScience writer, presenter and performer.

Helen Pilcher is a tea-drinking, biscuit-nibbling science and comedy writer, with a PhD in cell biology.


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