What’s gray, acrobatic, and full of personality?
If you guessed a common gray squirrel, you are correct. Also known as our campus’s “unofficial university animal,” they are often seen wandering around buildings, grassy areas and the residence halls — with nothing more than a window pane separating your face-to-face encounter.
Squirrels are often met with mixed reactions on campus: glee, excitement or “feeling creeped out.” It’s not an uncommon sight to see people running by them, attempting to feed them, or smiling and laughing at their silly antics. My friends and I often wonder what these squirrels would do if no one was watching them.
Today, I found out.
I was on my way to Harrington Hall when I approached a tree positioned near a dumpster. As I walked by, I heard a faint scratching noise. Looking up, I noticed a squirrel running toward the end of the branch. The end of the branch was near, but it kept running, until it ran straight off the end of the branch.
The squirrel spread its legs out, trying to slow its descent. I couldn’t believe it; a squirrel was falling off a tree in a way oddly reminiscent of the Mission Impossible movies. That’s when another thought crossed my mind: Is that squirrel dumpster diving?
A soft thud echoed inside of the dumpster as it landed inside. I almost wanted to look inside, to see if it was OK, but there was no need. A brown paper bag surfaced from the open dumpster, crinkling as the squirrel tried to casually look around to see if anyone had noticed its rough landing. It gingerly made its way down the side of the dumpster, paper bag still on its head.
It could have been that it was embarrassed about its fall or maybe it was still going along with the Mission Impossible theme and wearing a disguise.
Actually, it turns out the paper bag was stuck and it was feverishly trying to get it off.
It proceeded to roll around on the ground, shaking its head and using its paws to remove the bag. I stood and watched, both laughing and wondering if I should try to help or just continue watching.
After a very short time, it got the bag off its head, revealing the reason as to why it was having so much trouble: it bit onto a piece of food bigger than the opening of the bag and did not want to let go until it had its food. It took one quick glance at me, twitched its tail, and took off running toward another tree.
I marvel at the squirrels on campus and how they can be so entertaining to watch. This one made my cloudy, cool day a little bit brighter. I know a lot of people have had funny stories to tell about squirrels they’ve seen at UW Oshkosh, too.
Anyone else have some awesome squirrel stories to share?