As I walk around campus, I notice many things. The foliage, the buildings, the countless students streaming past me…and of course, the furry little mammals that can frequently be seen dashing around. I refer, of course, to squirrels.

These critters are very common here, although you don’t see them quite as often in the dead of winter. And as such, I have decided to write a tribute to UD squirrels. The squirrels found on campus are eastern gray squirrels, which are native to Delaware and surrounding states. If you’re from around here, you’ve seen other members of this genus thousands and thousands of times before.

These squirrels, while not exactly unafraid of humans, are a little desensitized towards us. On a typical fall day, you can sight dozens of squirrels climbing trees, burying acorns, searching for food in garbage cans, or doing who knows what. Yes, squirrels are quite fond of scrounging for tasty bits in trash cans. On one memorable occasion, I walked past a trash can and heard scratching coming from nearby. Puzzled, I stopped, only for a squirrel to jump out and startle me.

I’ve seen one squirrel eating a discarded apple core and another squirrel licking the inside of a thrown-away Starbucks cup. These creatures are creative, they’re everywhere, and they’re popular. There used to be a Facebook page for UD squirrels. The page had a fair number of likes before being taken down for some reason.

I once noticed a squirrel happily chewing away on an acorn just off the path, with no concern for its surroundings. Standing behind it, I clapped loudly and then laughed heartily as the poor creature did a backflip and sprinted away faster than I thought possible.

These critters are no problem, and students don’t mind them. I wouldn’t even term the squirrels pests. They are not exactly going to run up and grab your leg, not matter how much food you’re eating. They’re not that bold. Instead, they just rush around campus, always seeming to go 50 miles an hour. The squirrels are an amusing little aspect of campus, something you occasionally snicker about and other times don’t even notice.

We may be the Blue Hens, but I think the nickname “squirrels” would also work pretty well.

Do you have any amusing encounters with squirrels? Share in the comments below.

~Matt Bittle


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