Harmless rodents lurk on Temple’s campus

As I stood at my favorite lunch truck one brisk February morning, it became quite clear that I was not alone. I was being tormented by the squirrels that plague Temple’s campus. They saunter with

As I stood at my favorite lunch truck one brisk February morning, it became quite clear that I was not alone. I was being tormented by the squirrels that plague Temple’s campus. They saunter with eyes gleaming, claws extended and souls meshed into one cause: the mutilation of the innocent Temple student.

Grabbing a cup of Tommy’s famous joe, I tried to calm the tremble of my coffee-baring arm as one of those vile creatures proudly skipped about me. He looked like a possessed navy man on an uncharted wharf, deliberating (I surmised) whether he should snack upon my ankle or perhaps take a gurgling sip of my steaming java.

Nothing terrible occurred during this brief encounter, and I have never been violently attacked by a squirrel. This makes me wonder where this incredulous fear of mine comes from. My conclusion: the squirrels have a curious mystique, and I am certainly not alone in my misgivings.

Lounging outside Randall Theater, sophomore Theater major Brian Bitner witnessed an unusual act.

“[A squirrel] was gathering some spilled French fries, one by one, and proceeding to bury them in the dirt,” Bitner said. “Occasionally it would eat a fry, but it was mostly concentrating on submerging them in the soil. It carried on this odd behavior until all the fries had been laid to rest.”

Chuck Fergus of the Bureau of Information and Education in the Pennsylvania Game Commission said Pennsylvania is most often frequented by the gray squirrel.

“Squirrels are fast and agile, scaling trees and jumping from treetop to treetop with great speed,” Fergus wrote in a “Wildlife Notes” publication.

  • The squirrels seen on Temple’s campus are most often tree squirrels. These are lively animals with long, bushy tails, who run around on the ground and in trees.
  • Tree squirrels are active mostly during daylight hours. They are noisy, and often use loud chirps, whistles and other noises to communicate with each other, usually in defense of territory or food.
  • Squirrels normally live in tree holes, but sometimes build special nests out of twigs.
  • Squirrels eat berries, fruits, fungi, grain and seeds. They are also known to take eggs from insects and birds.

    Source: Worldbook encyclopedia

  • Jenny Greytak, a sophomore Biology major, said Temple squirrels are rather paranormal.

    “They are very brave and come right up to people,” Greytak said. She said she and her roommate, Sara, were sitting beneath a tree on a bench one day when a squirrel “climbed up a tree and had a plum … and it was almost like it threw it at Sara! It came down right next to her, and it was really funny.”

    Gray squirrels eat foods with high moisture content, such as buds and flowers of red and sugar maples, Fergus said.

    Walking with a friend one day, freshman Broadcast, Telecommunications and Mass Media major Joelle Ciampaglia saw a squirrel scamper across the path of an innocent student.

    “The girl screamed like she was being murdered and then started cursing Philly squirrels like they actually planned to attack her,” Ciampaglia said. “I laughed hysterically.”

    Latoya Smith, a freshman Journalism major, was resting on a bench when a squirrel brazenly took a seat across from her.

    “[The squirrel] was just staring at me!” Smith said. “I didn’t make any sudden moves, because I didn’t want him to jump on me. So I slid over and he just stood there, in my face. They’re scary.”

    My roommate Lauren DePino has always had some deep-seeded problems with squirrels.

    “Sh-sh! Sh-sh! That is the sound of terror in the night!” she hissed at me, her eyes, in terror, becoming a lurid gloss. “I hear the rustling in my sleep. Maybe it’s because the squirrels are in my head, in my brain!”

    Perhaps you, my reader, have been dreaming of maniacal squirrels. According to Zolar’s Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Dreams, dreaming of being bitten by a squirrel means that you will marry for money. Dreaming of petting a squirrel symbolizes happiness in the home.

    Since many nightmare-plagued Temple students may be at a loss for how to respond to the squirrels that plague this University’s humanity, Tourism and Hospitality major Pat Brogan has some advice.

    “Run,” he advised. “Hide your women and children!”

    Amy Jennifer Reed can be reached at areed@temple.edu

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