Befriending the Cool Kids on Campus: Squirrels

squirrel munching on cracker on Faculty Glade

Tired of your human friends? I get it, being around the same people can get old, even out of quarantine. But, gee, do I have exciting news for you! There are so many squirrels roaming campus just waiting for you to take a seat on the glade with a charcuterie board curated just for them!

Up in the trees or right at your feet, walking to your 8 am or getting out of your 8-10 pm midterm – these fun little critters can be spotted all throughout campus and at any time of day. If you’re really craving some squirrel time, I recommend heading to the Eucalyptus Grove. That’s where I made my first squirrel friendship and I have a lot of hope for you too! All you gotta do is make kissy sounds and your friend crush (the squirrel) will immediately hear you, see you, and love you. You may need to kneel down and pretend to reach out, but I assure you, you’ll have it’s attention. Boom. Friendship. I don’t recommend, however, getting too close to the squirrels or feeding out of hand because they are known to carry West Nile Virus and may not be able to tell fingers from food if you’re trying to give them, say, a peanut. The goal is to form a friendship from afar.

That first friendship really opened the door for me. After that, I continued to interact with the squirrels on campus and form meaningful bonds, probably more meaningful for me than for the squirrels but that’s alright. One day when I was picnicking on Faculty Glade with some friends there were so many squirrels roaming around and one approached me with no hesitation. I could tell by its eyes that it just wanted to share my pita chips and hummus. Being careful not to cause a scene or attract more friends, I slyly tossed a piece of a chip it’s way. I watched my new friend enjoy his snack, give me a nod of thanks, and go on his way. The perfect interaction, if you ask me. Now, there’s one specific squirrel that lives rent free in my mind: the tailless squirrel, a campus celebrity, who I’ve heard referred to as “Nubs.” The first time I saw him I was sitting on some benches between the Music Library and Wurster Hall enjoying a Cheese n’ Stuff sandwich (a Berkeley classic). He waddled on by and I immediately fell in love. I was determined to make him my friend but, unfortunately, we have yet to cross paths again. Where is he now, you ask? I don’t know but I sure hope he’s doing well.

Another pro-tip for befriending these furry friends is by simply following them on instagram. The account @berkeleysquirrels will keep you up to date on all things “squirrel” and seeing the posts is a sure-fire way to brighten your day and make you feel that much closer to the squirrel friends. Just like with humans, following the squirrels on social media gives you an inside scoop on their day to day lives, and can show you not only the best side of them but also the real side of them.

While the hundreds of clubs and student organizations are great ways to make friends and find your community on campus, nothing compares to the feeling of making a new animal friend! The Berkeley squirrels are so friendly and innocent so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, reach out (safely), and bond with them. You won’t regret it!