Meet a Wes Squirrel: Tailgating with Chip Sciurus ’18

Meet-a-Wes-Squirrel

Chip Sciurus ’18 hails from Hoboken, New Jersey. The eastern grey squirrel is one of the first sciuridae admitted under Wesleyan’s new SOS (Scurry of Squirrels) program.

What’s it like being part of Wesleyan’s inaugural scurry of squirrels?
The transition from canopy to campus has been pretty easy. Everyone here’s been really accepting. Sure, some students think moving squirrels from the canopy to the classroom means Wes is lowering its standards. But I can tell you from personal experience that Wesleyan is just as selective with its squirrels as it is with its students.

What made you choose Wesleyan?
In a word: Diversity. Look around: You’ve got grey squirrels and red squirrels, black squirrels and flying squirrels. Even ground squirrels!

If you don’t mind me asking: Where do squirrels live on campus?
We live in the newest program house: Tree House. It feels like home, really. Leaves, sticks, moss. Really cozy. In a single, of course. There might be a lot of us, but we’re not very social.

Speaking of social, Wes students are known for their social involvement. What’s your campus cause?
Sustainability, for sure. See all those trees out there? You can thank generations of Wes squirrels for them! When we dig, which we do all the time, we aerate the soil—which promotes better vegetation growth. And a whole lot of us are scatter hoarders, too—we bury thousands of acorns each fall and then fuggedabout a lot of them. Those left behind, germinate and—voila!—more trees. And If that wasn’t enough, we eat grubs like snap peas: By. The. Handful.

Have you decided on a major yet?
Nope. Not yet. Too many great choices, really. No matter what, though, with all my zigging and zagging, I’m sure it won’t be a straight path to graduation!

What’s your favorite food?
Are you serious? Between you and me: I take it personally when students talk about wanting a nut-free campus. Nut free? How about more nuts! May contain nuts? Should contain nuts, as far as I’m concerned.

Do you have a favorite class?
I like them all, really. I don’t even mind early morning classes. My roommates say I’m the epitome of wide-eyed and bushy-tailed.

With classes, school clubs and weekend jobs, how do Wes Squirrels deal with the stress of college life?
If you haven’t noticed, we squirrels are great at landing on our feet—even from almost 100 feet up! Life is all about climbing, falling, and climbing back up again. Sure, sometimes I misjudge the distance between two branches, or I land on a branch and—snap!—down I go. But I can deal with that. Spread my body, puff out my tail, and I’m riding the breeze on the way down.

What’s your favorite thing to do on campus?
Sledding on Foss in the winter, WesFest in the spring (though sometimes it looks like it gets a little squirrely), and tail-gating in the fall. And I’m nuts about geocaching. But Pokemon Go? Overrated, if you ask me.

What can Wesleyan do to improve the campus environment for Wes Squirrels?
In a nutshell: Wesleyan is a great place for squirrels, but there’s definitely more than can be done to make us feel just as welcome as the other students. First: No dogs on campus. C’mon people. They bark. They chase. They make a mess. Need I say more? And how many Wes Squirrels have to end up as roadkill before Wesleyan finally installs squirrel crossings on High Street and up by Exley? Give us a brake, people!

How do you respond to people who say squirrels are a nuisance?
Some people say “rodent” like it’s a bad word. As far as I’m concerned, they’re nuts.  Maybe we’re a little furrier and a little more scattered, but we’re smart, we’re agile, and we’re adaptable. Once students realize this, they’re pretty cool about us being here. Sometimes I do catch people staring at my tail, though. But one or two quick swishes and an earful of chatter is enough to set most of them straight.

Since you mentioned it: What’s up with the bushy tails?
Bushy tails aren’t just for show, you know. People use their hands; squirrels use their tails. If you see my tail waggin’, don’t start a-naggin’! That’s what I say. It also keeps me warm in winter.

Any words of wisdom for Wes Squirrels and other Wes students?
I don’t bury all my nuts in one place for the same reason I don’t put all my eggs in one basket: Too risky. I’d rather spread my chances for success. And as my mother used to say, God rest her soul: In life as in trees, it’s all about balance.