Squirrels Play a Significant Role in the Clark Community Too

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Squirrels Play a Significant Role in the Clark Community Too

Nate Mattera '22

Nate Mattera '22

Nate Mattera '22

Luis Santos, Contributing Writer

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WORCESTER— A squirrel jumps out of nowhere from a trash can. Another squirrel hides nuts and munches on them. X marks the spot just outside a windowpane. When squirrels are not unpredictable, what can one do if they find an injured squirrel laying in the middle of the sidewalk?

Hannah Brier, a junior student at Clark University attests to this experience.

“There was once a squirrel next to the Geography building (at Clark) that fell into this crate. It couldn’t get back up because it had just fallen into the hole,” Brier said.  “At the time, me and my friend apparently had a bed sheet. My friend jumped in the crate and tried to get the squirrel up with the bed sheet without scaring it, but it was freaking out.”

“We then decided to call Physical Plant to help the squirrel get out,” Brier said. “It’s always good to call Physical Plant because they can call animal services and have someone to deal with the squirrels.”

Squirrel girl or squirrel whisperer, Brier is also the creator of the squirrel Instagram page at Clark. In her freshman year, Brier jokingly made the squirrel Instagram page with her friends which quickly became popular.

“I often get so many pictures from random people and videos of squirrels eating pizza… The squirrels here, they have their own personality,” she said. “If I could have a squirrel as a pet I would have it in a heartbeat… I love squirrels, they are so cute and weird.”

“Having an Instagram page for the squirrels says a lot about the university for prospective students that look at the school and say ‘Ahh,’ this is the kind of school it is,” Brier said. “It is the kind of school that has Instagram for different kinds of animals.”  

Recalling other people’s experiences helping injured squirrels Brier said, “I know people who experienced squirrels falling out of trees and they would put something out so that the squirrel would kind of bounce off… I even know of a first-year student who took in an orphan baby squirrel for a few days until a wildlife rehabilitator could come.”

However, “You have to have a wildlife rehabilitator license to be able to do that. I’m really big about calling Physical Plant if you see an injured squirrel,” she said.

While some Clark University students are aware of the school’s services in handling injured animals like squirrels, Worcester residents have other options.

In an email interview with Dr. Maureen Murray, assistant director of Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, Dr. Murray said, “We treat every species equally and with compassion in our clinic, including squirrels.”

Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Tufts University specializes in the treatment of wild and non-domesticated animals.  

However, Tufts Wildlife Clinic cannot treat injured animals on their own.

“We intake the majority of our patients from members of the general public who bring them in from their towns and cities,” Murray said. “We also work closely with state entities, wildlife rehabilitators, biologists, animal control officers and state and federal wildlife agencies.”

“The work that goes on treating wildlife patients is also incorporated into the curriculum of our veterinary students…Veterinarians take an oath at the time they enter the profession. At Tufts Wildlife Clinic we take this oath very seriously and always act in the best interest of the patient,” Murray said.

While Tufts veterinarians value the life of all animals equally, the public’s perception of medical treatment on wild animals like squirrels may differ.

When asked if people are more likely to help an injured squirrel on the street Brier said, “Compared to other animals I think people have a heart for squirrels because they are cute and fluffy… I think that’s why people are so willing to help them because they are so weird and friendly. It makes them more likeable unlike mice.”

Unlike the public, “Massachusetts veterinarians can legally provide emergency care to injured wildlife but would need a state and possibly a federal wildlife rehabilitation license to do longer term rehabilitation,” Murray said.

“Veterinarians can work with licensed wildlife rehabilitators to provide medical attention to animals in the care of the rehabilitator,” Murray said. “Our goal is always to treat and release animals back to their natural habitat.”

There are state regulations for the treatment of wild animals like squirrels. The general public is encouraged to contact a wildlife rehabilitator if they find a sick or injured animal.

While Tufts Wildlife Clinic and its veterinarians are trained specialists in the treatment of wild animals like squirrels, there are volunteer opportunities for city residents interested in assisting injured animals and learning about wildlife.

Located in Worcester, Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Association of Massachusetts (WRAM) is a non-profit organization committed to the rehabilitation of wildlife since 1992. WRAM’s educational programs teach residents to better protect endangered species and other wild animals.

Like Tufts Wildlife Clinic, WRAM welcomes volunteers and educates the Worcester community to find local Wildlife rehabilitation centers if they encounter injured or orphaned animals and provide animal control assistance.

In the case of squirrels, the squirrels at Clark University have distinct personalities and students are willing to give them a helping hand.

“People have identifiers for different squirrels. There is trash squirrel, there are two trash squirrels who hang out in the trash cans,” Brier said. “You have to stay away from them because they are territorial, and they will jump out at you in the trash can.”

“There is one nicknamed H-T by my advisor. There is one with a huge tail or a bushy tail, so it’s called bushy-tail,” Brier said. “There is also half-tails who lives outside the library. He has half a tail missing. No one really knows why, but he’s the friendliest squirrel around campus and he would sit by a tree. He doesn’t run away from dogs.”

“The squirrels are what make Clark University. It’s unique and weird. Squirrels are kind of like Clarkies or Clark University students, who are also weird and unique and have defining traits,” Brier said.

But squirrels are not just collectors of nuts.

“If you see an injured squirrel don’t just leave it and try calling someone,” Brier said.

“Squirrels are a big part of the Clark community, they are individuals,” Brier said. “The one outside your window has probably done that out of habit,” she said referring to the squirrel that comes to visit every day.