UD Squirrels Stir Curiosity, Embody Community
On a daily basis, University of Dayton students experience the oddness of the squirrels that inhabit campus.
One particular day, a fuzzy critter jumped out from a tree at John Wallace, a UD student. He yelled “holy fuzz,” spilled his almonds (which the squirrel quickly gathered) and was left wondering what had happened. Wallace isn’t the only student who has had an encounter like this.
The squirrels on UD’s campus are notorious for being different. A new story about them is circulated weekly, as many wonder if something is wrong with them. There are more than four different colored squirrels on site and they tend to interact with humans more than normal behavior would suggest. It has become so enthralling a Twitter account and game has been created in honor of these rodents.
Biology professor, Constance Pope had a lot of input on the behavior of these critters as she was ecstatic to speak about them. Pope is a huge fan of nature and wildlife, as she even said, “I speak to them every day,” when talking about the squirrels.
Pope asks them questions such “How was your day?” or “See any predators today?” hoping to stir a reaction. Pope also said, “They are climatized to people, making them not as fearful and they don’t always run away.”
That explains why people feel the squirrels are so friendly and carefree around campus. Pope talked about how UD has a bimodal population on campus.
Pope stressed they are curious and said, “People don’t bother them, as the students don’t act in a negative way.”
This eliminates the threat of a predator, making the squirrels more comfortable. The students clearly treat the squirrels with some degree of respect and they have taken notice.
The fact the squirrels have become so comfortable “portrays the goodness of our students and the Dayton community,” Pope said.
With the friendliness and sense of community among the squirrels solved, the oddness of them still leaves students bamboozled at times.
Kyle Ransom, a student from Columbus, OH, has noticed this behavior as well. Ransom was walking to class at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. A creature in the tree was looking right at him as he was happily observing the environment. That creature was a red-eyed albino squirrel. Ransom ran back to his house to grab his roommate Stephen Nikolaus. When they went to see this out of the ordinary critter, it was nowhere to be found.
Nikolaus has seen this squirrel before residing on Woodland Avenue. This is rare because Pope said, “The albino squirrels usually only are in Oakwood or Kettering.”
Ransom was walking the same route on Woodland to class the following morning. When he arrived at the Miriam parking lot, he saw the squirrel staring at him again in the distance. It has not been seen since this instance.
Another student, Hannah Carpenter, said, “One time, I swear a squirrel smiled at me.”
The behavior of these squirrels is interesting and who knows what it actually stems from. Maybe it is Dayton’s sense of community or truly the good behavior of the students. Maybe it is the kind of trash we produce, as student Sarah Supsura said, “I saw a squirrel in a tree eating homework once.”
The many dining halls and catering services disposing of all their food could be a component.
Overall, the squirrels are a great asset to this campus and UD should continue to observe their abnormality.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.