Meet Penn State’s Squirrel Whisperer

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If you don’t know Mary Krupa yet, let me introduce you:

She is a freshman this year, from State College, who is best known for playing with squirrels, while also donning them with tiny-squirrel sized hats. Mary has a love for all animals, however she favors squirrels above all other campus wildlife because they are the friendliest (when they’re hungry).

“It’s kind of a give and take. They’re not going to play with me unless I have food to give them,” said Krupa.

Who knew squirrels drove such a hard bargain?

Mary has always been an animal lover and actually has a parakeet of her own, Smudge. This is not her first bird however, but sadly, Chirpy passed away two years ago. (Feel free to pour one out for the fallen homie this weekend.)

Both of her pets have been birds because, as she explained to me, “Birds are kind of my favorite, followed by anything that’s cute and fuzzy.” Who can argue with that?

Anyway, Mary has not declared her major yet, but is fairly certain she will be studying wildlife sciences.

As we walked towards Old Main in search of the “friendlier” squirrels that allow Mary to pet and play with them, we heard an angry squirrel making some horrific noise from the top of a tree branch, holding an acorn in its grimey little paws. I asked Mary if she knew what the hell was going on and she explained that typically they make this noise to warn other squirrelies of danger so they can properly run and hide. I asked if this squirrel thinks we are dangerous and she said she wasn’t sure as she isn’t an expert in squirrel communications. Touché!

Looks like a pretty good communicator to me…

Turns out, this afternoon, all the squirrels were pow wow-ing on the mall in front of the Sackett building, which is where I met Sneezy the Squirrel. (Not familiar? Check out her Facebook Page!) Mary named this particular squirrel Sneezy because this rodent makes the “cutest little sneezing noises” when she’s rooting around for acorns.

Cute indeed.

Mary is able to identify Sneezy by the red tuft of fur at the base of her tail. This then prompted me to ask, how could she tell that Sneezy was a girl? Do you just scope out the undercarriage? Nope! According to Mary, female squirrels typically have more prominent nipples. Me-owww.

Anyway, as soon as Mary showed up it was like bringing some Mike’s Hard Lemonade to a high school party. She was cool. as. shit. Apparently those little squirrlies recognized Mary and knew she was carrying some peanuts with her. She was, of course, but what she also had in that lavender backpack of hers was a tupperware FULL OF SQUIRREL HATS.

Shout out to the State College High baseball cap. 

I was under the impression that there was only a birthday hat, but as you can see, Mary has quite the collection. Today, we were trying to put the straw hat on Sneezy, because that’s just the kind of betchy squirrel she is.

Can you see the hat on Sneezy?! So nature-chic.

As this was happening, most people walking by were staring with concern, laughing maliciously, or stopped to take photos. I asked Mary about this later and she said that stopping and gawking is totally kosher in her book. She likes the attention that the squirrels get but has to make sure to keep an eye on them because she doesn’t want them to just start going beserk. Understandable considering while I watched from afar, squirrels were climbing on her, sitting on her forearm and generally gathering around her.

Literally four squirrels around her. I would actually die.

I should add that I am absolutely, 112% terrified  of squirrels. At one point, one of them started following me thinking I also had food, and the resulting trauma is no doubt comparable to PTSD.

After about twenty minutes of watching Mary play Snow White, I decided enough was enough and we retreated back toward the HUB. I asked if this is something kids shouldn’t try at home and she insisted that they are generally friendly but that you should try to fraternize with the older squirrels, as the younger ones tend to nibble and sometimes bite. But don’t fret! Squirrels aren’t actually chock full of rabies like everyone thinks, because they don’t eat meat or dead animals like other revolting animals, such as racoons. However, if you do get bit, just wash your cut with some soap and water and you’re totally good to go!

Besties!

For full disclosure, I will never touch a squirrel voluntarily, but if I was considering it, Mary totally made me feel better about it. Thanks, girl!

For more squirrely fun, make sure to “like” Sneezy the Penn State Squirrel on Facebook!

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Senior. Print Journalism Major, Spanish Minor. My only childhood memory involves me playing with a toy circus car.

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