The squirrels that live on Penn State’s campus are notoriously friendly. But you’ve gotta think they wouldn’t roll with this for just anyone.
Nope. In fact, as far as we know, they’ll only do this for Mary Krupa, a Penn State senior who’s been charming, feeding—and clothing—the campus squirrels since her first week at school back in 2012. Not surprisingly, food and patience are Mary’s secret strategy to squirrel whispering, though we’re still impressed she can get them to pose like this long enough to take photos that aren’t a total blur.
Mary says doll furniture is a good bet for props, but she often ends up making the outfits and hats herself. Her hands-down favorite is this fruit hat, which her brother helped her make on his 3D printer.
Mary also started a Facebook page to document the fashion adventures of “Sneezy the Squirrel”—which she admitted to us is actually multiple squirrels. “There have actually been three or four Sneezys over the years. I’m pretty sure Sneezy 1 got eaten by a hawk. But I don’t like to put the word out too much that other Sneezys have died in the past because other people connect with this squirrel much more than I do.”
Another cool fact: Mary says Penn State actually introduced a handful of squirrels to the campus back in 1925. Back then, squirrels weren’t a common part of the urban wildlife landscape like they are today, and they were often introduced to public parks as a way of beautifying cities. So it’s possible that Sneezy is a descendant of those original eight Penn State squirrels.
Also, Sneezy is apparently big in Germany. “We’ve been in Der Spiegel and another magazine that got passed out to all the university students in Germany. They got a little mixed up because they actually thought Sneezy was Penn State’s mascot.”
Also, “Squirrel Girl,” a nickname Mary is totally fine with, is actually an old Marvel character. “She’s kind of a joke character from the ’60s or ’70s. She’s basically a college student, and her main super power is to communicate with squirrels. And she fights by calling an army of squirrels and they overwhelm the enemy.” Marvel recently brought the character back, and apparently, there are some cosplay folks out there that are super into it.
Even LEGO is feeling it.
Well done, Mary. You’ll always be our favorite Squirrel Girl. We’re only hoping you’ve found a protégé so after you graduate, we haven’t seen the last of Sneezy’s rad hats.
Congratulations to Mary Krupa, who graduated from Penn State on Wednesday with a major in English and a wildlife minor. For the record, Mary is not supportive of making squirrels—or other wild animals—pets. “I would not let Sneezy in my house. These are definitely wild animals, and they’d be very unhappy stuck inside.” And be sure to check out more photos of Sneezy (1, 2, 3 and 4) on Sneezy the Squirrel’s Facebook page. There are lots of good ones.