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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Aggie Squirrel Watch

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If you are on-campus often, then you have probably noticed the abundant number of squirrels that roam freely through the university grounds. These squirrels are a non-native species known as the eastern fox squirrel, and have multiplied exponentially in Davis since 2001. In 2008, UC Davis’s Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology began administering birth control to the little buggers in order to prevent the population from exploding out of proportion. Whether you love the bushy-tailed creatures or they make you nutty (bad pun intended), it is hard to imagine UC Davis without them. Here is our take on the pros and cons of these local fuzzies!

Pro: Aesthetics

Even if you absolutely despise them, you have to admit that the UC Davis squirrels are cute as heck. There’s just something endearing about their fluffy tails and itty-bitty ears that we cannot help but squeal at with joy. Even as a squirrel prances away with your cookie, it’s safe to say they’re still somehow charming and adorable.

Con: Safety Hazard

Campus squirrels are notorious for their tendency to run out into the middle of bike paths, scaring bikers and sometimes causing collisions and crashes to those students who try to avoid them. It is believed that the squirrels are actually partaking in an ongoing game, in which squirrels dare one another to see how close they can get to bikers without getting hit. Though this is a cruel joke to us humans, it is probably an important part of squirrel culture that we cannot fully comprehend.

Pro: Social Media

Aggie squirrels have their own Facebook page! It seems as if the little guys have adapted to the age of technology and are now using it to brighten our newsfeeds with funny photos and shoutouts. They have also provided Snapchat users with hilarious photo-ops.

Con: Thievery

If you ever take your eyes off of your lunch when sitting outside of the Memorial Union, you are risking the possibility of a squirrel swiping your pizza. Over the years, the little devils have grown weary of dumpster diving for partially eaten burritos and are now infamous for stealing whole untouched sandwiches and bags of chips. The wafting scent of TexMex taco salads awaken a hunger in the squirrels that cannot be tamed, even with the prospect of savory ripened acorns to store in their cheeks for the winter.

Con: Destruction

The squirrels have been known to chew through wire, weaken the bark on the Arboretum redwoods and kill multiple species of plants. They are also known to dig holes in lawns that destroy mowers and other garden tools. Though this is America, “the land of the free,” it has become clear that the squirrels have asserted their agency too far, to a point where they refuse to respect and preserve the natural world around them.

Pro: Aggie Pride  At the end of the day, the campus squirrels are just a normal part of the Aggie community. Despite some of their flaws (nobody’s perfect!), UC Davis would not be the same without them!

(Sidenote, squirrels can kill a rattlesnake with their bare paws and that’s pretty badass.)

Cartoon by Evan Lilley

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