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Chipmunks vs. Squirrels

Claire Stephens | Monday, April 22, 2013


Across campus, there is an undeniable fascination with the huge population of squirrels running about. Most of us probably had never seen a squirrel up close until one of them started following us around, begging for the sandwich in our hands like a domesticated dog. These unusually large and strangely orange creatures have been the star of many an Instagram photo.

Though these crazy animals are good for a laugh when you lure one in with peanut butter or see one darting up campus trees, I’ll just go ahead and say it: they’re really not that great. In fact, they’re annoying most of the time.

And while I’m not one to be into hipster trends, I do have the (literal) underground alternative to those overexposed, mainstream squirrels: the elusive chipmunk. Why the chipmunks, you ask? Here’s my list of reasons.



There is no way our campus squirrels practice healthy eating habits. After all, we put them in the path of temptation all the time. I certainly don’t want to offend any squirrels or make them feel like they must fit the cookie-cutter ideal of the skinny, airbrushed squirrel on magazine covers, but come on. Hanging half your body down into the trashcan to dig out whatever you can find? Just admit you have a problem, squirrels. It’s not like there’s a shortage of food on campus. 

Chipmunks, on the other hand, are exposed to the same temptations as squirrels: thousands of people walking around and dropping food. Yet, when was the last time you saw one of them walk up to you while you were minding your own business, waiting for your friends in front of the dining hall? Or stalk you while you try to eat your Grab n’ Go bagel on the way to class? My best guess to explain their regular size is that chipmunks eat a more healthy quantity of food for their size.



It is true that squirrels are seen running around from time to time. But more often, you see them lumbering around, just waiting on the food to come to them or clinging to the edge of the trash can with their back legs while they go cave diving into it. Sometimes they stalk after you or trod up to you, expecting free handouts. Or worse, they run across your sidewalk path in their public efforts to get frisky, which is gross and probably a violation of du Lac. 

Chipmunks on the other hand, are always on the run. Like sprinters, they dash from place to place, always on the go. Maybe they really do eat as much as squirrels but burn it all off with their constant running. Chipmunks seem to mirror the athletic feel of Notre Dame’s campus, with so many students coming in from varsity high school sports. They may not come as close as the overly-friendly squirrels, but they’re more exciting to watch when you do see them. 



Squirrels up close are exciting because you probably don’t get that anywhere else. Yet their excessive exhibitionism makes their charm fade pretty fast. We get it, you’re not afraid of us. But that doesn’t mean you get to shadow me across South Quad because you want my popcorn. Squirrels are the equivalent of those people who stand on stage at Fever just to point at people like they’re completely awesome, even though they probably aren’t. Squirrels are somewhere between outright attention hogs and just embarrassingly shameless in their quest for food, attention and action. They beg for free food, dumpster dive and think they deserve your attention just because they exist. Have some pride in yourself, squirrels. You don’t have to put it all out there all the time.

Chipmunks are the exact opposite. They’re elusive, mysterious and fleeting. They’re like that crush that ignores you, making you want him or her more. They know what’s up on the actual underground scene. They probably have a whole city organized in the underground tunnels. Instead of worrying about squirrels taking over campus, we should be looking at those who go unnoticed: chipmunks. Squirrels are too lazy and slow to bother taking over anything, and what more do they want than food anyway? Chipmunks taking over would be way more interesting and unexpected.

Lastly, and not to be superficial, just look at them: chipmunks are way cuter than squirrels. They’re like the cuter mini version of those lazy squirrels who have let themselves go. (And whoever told squirrels that orange is the new pink is seriously disturbed). Squirrels look like they’d be heavy to hold and are a mess of fur, while chipmunks could fit in your hands while you pet their tiny heads. If you haven’t noticed these little guys around campus yet, keep your eyes peeled. Chipmunks are the new thing, and squirrels are so last semester.