Don’t feed the campus squirrels

The squirrels on campus here at Truman State University are widely beloved. They provide an endless source of entertainment and happiness to all who come into contact with them. Seeing squirrels dart across the sidewalks right in front of me, or watching them stop eating to eye me inquisitively, never fails to make me smile. I am not the only one to share this love of our Truman squirrels, as I see countless people admire them daily. 

As much as I love interacting with the squirrels, I have concluded in the recent weeks that we must stop feeding them. I know that this opinion is highly unpopular, but for the sake of Truman’s students, as well as the squirrels themselves, we must stop feeding the squirrels. 

Last year, there were several instances where I saw half-eaten Chick-fil-A fries or nuggets in the grass, likely fed to the squirrels by a well-meaning student. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A is not part of a squirrel’s natural diet, and it is unlikely that they will enjoy it as much as humans do. Their bodies cannot process human food, and as such, feeding them our food could make them sick. I’m sure the student that fed the squirrels meant no harm, but it is still important to care for the health of our squirrels. If you do decide to feed the squirrels, please feed them healthy foods like acorns, pecans or some fruit. 

“The benefit of eating fruit for squirrels is that it gives them a major sugar-boost and provides lots of energy to keep scrambling around,” explains. 

So, next time you want to feed the squirrels, pack a healthy snack for the both of you to enjoy!

Students should also avoid feeding the squirrels at Truman because squirrels are wild animals that can bite. Since squirrels have eyes on the sides of their heads, they can’t see right in front of their nose. Anyone who has tried to feed a squirrel has likely seen this in action, as they will not see food right in front of them. As a result, squirrels can often accidentally bite people who try to feed them, mistaking a finger for food. While squirrels rarely bite humans, it is still important to be careful when interacting with them. However friendly and domesticated they might seem, we should always remember that they are wild animals who will bite if they feel threatened or cornered. If a squirrel bites you, it is important to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, and if the bite is severe enough, go to the nearest emergency room. If you get bitten by a squirrel and have not had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years, you should get one. If the squirrel appeared to be sick, it would be wise to get a rabies vaccine as well. 

The Truman State University squirrels are incredible creatures and deserve every bit of the love and admiration they receive. However, it is important to give them the same respect they give us, and be careful when interacting with them. It would be better for students to avoid feeding the squirrels, but if you do, here are a few quick tips:

  • Always place the food in your palm with your hand flat to avoid getting inadvertently bitten. 
  • Feed the squirrels healthy, natural foods instead of human food. 
  • Enjoy your time around the squirrels! 

They are wonderful residents of Truman’s campus and we need to make sure that they enjoy our presence as much as we enjoy theirs.