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Getting nutty about squirrels

The Bumbling Bee

The Bumbling Bee occasionally will share offbeat observations about St. Ambrose in the AmbroseZine.

March 2012 | by Craig DeVrieze

Watch Now: "Ambrosian Squirrels: The Movie."

Granted. I am a relative newbie to the St. Ambrose campus. And, yes, first impressions cannot always be trusted.

Nonetheless, it is my firm belief there is such a thing as Ambrosian squirrels.

Hastily drawn in a mere matter of days spent walking across our idyllic campus, this conclusion apparently puts me squarely—squirrelly maybe?—at odds with science.

Long story short: The SAU biology department seems to think I am up a tree on this.

"They are habituated to humans; I think that's all that is going on," longtime SAU biology prof Rich Legg, PhD, countered when I suggested squirrels of the Fighting Bees stripe are more fearless and bit smarter by osmosis than garden-variety varmints who don't call a college campus home. "In any urban park, you're going to see the same type of behavior from those rodents."

So, not unusual in the least?

"No," Legg persisted. "I guess I don't see them as unusual in any way from squirrels I know elsewhere."

A wiser man might not have asked the obvious follow-up. A wise guy, on the other hand, would wonder mock seriously: "You know a lot of squirrels, do you?"

"Well, I grew up in New York City, where there are parks," the professor contended. "I'm a professional mammalogist. So I think I know them reasonably well."

Well, OK. Fine. Play the professional mammalogist card, if you must. But we laymen still know what we know. Don't we, Meghan Rettenmeier?

"I think the squirrels here are really strange," said the sophomore exercise and science major. "They don't move out of your way and they just think they own the sidewalks. I usually have to move for them. I think they are strange."

Now, full disclosure: Megan was the fourth student to field my Ambrosian squirrel query and was the first of those who admitted to giving squirrels hereabouts a second thought.

On the other hand, the first staff member from physical plant services I stopped was in immediate agreement. Well, all right, maybe not quite immediate. Kaylon Spengler did pause a moment to wonder what kind of nut would be asking about Ambrosian squirrels.

But then he agreed. More or less.

"You could say that," he said. "I don't know ... I ... Eh, I think they're a breed apart, yeah."

So there you have it. Confirmation. Stick your science in a hat, mister.


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