The chubby, furry creatures are a ubiquitous sight during the school year, and can be seen scurrying to and fro around the campus diags. Bushy-tailed grey squirrels for the most part have captured the hearts of university students. While squirrels are not only particular to Ann Arbor, and I want to understand why they are so ingrained in Michigan culture.
If you have ever taken a tour of the University of Michigan, your tour guide has probably mentioned the Squirrel Feeding Club that is simply a group of people passionate about feeding squirrels. However, I have never seen them in person, nor heard of anybody who’s actually a member of the club, but nonetheless the idea is wholesome and kind-hearted. If you are a member of this club… text me.
Many a time I have stopped in my tracks while walking through campus, to gaze at a squirrel who seems to stare into my soul before running off. It’s quite endearing in a strange way.
Michigan squirrels have been elevated to an almost mascot-like status, with candid photos of large squirrels holding cookies, apples, and even a jar of peanut butter. They have been serenaded, played with, even memed. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Myers in this article explained that campus squirrels have become accustomed to constant feeding and interaction with humans, and are thus more friendly than common squirrels. Apparently, they can still bite, but many students find them adorable and entertaining.
Plus, the life of a U-M squirrel must be pretty nice. Former psychology professor Christopher Peterson wrote an opinion piece on Psychology Today, explaining his reasoning of why a being Michigan squirrel would be the ideal life–the squirrels expect to be fed, run free among dozens of trees, have two breeding seasons a year, and interact with people every day.
Along with Reggie the iconic campus corgi, the beloved squirrels are sure to stay in the hearts of Michigan students.