IN PHOTOS: Squirrels: Vanderbilt’s favorite furry friends

Whether they’re posing for the camera or reveling in the luxurious college life, Vanderbilt’s squirrels are sure to make you crack a smile.


Isabella Bautista

A squirrel munches on a pack of Dippin’ Stix Sliced Apples & Peanut Butter, as captured on April 17, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Isabella Bautista)

Isabella Bautista, Deputy Life Editor

Last summer, a fellow incoming first-year and I agreed that Vanderbilt just had to be lying about its boasted 3:1 squirrel-to-student ratio. Do the math: there are about 7,000 undergraduates currently enrolled at Vanderbilt, so that would add up to 21,000 squirrels (and that’s not even accounting for the 6,500 graduate students)! However, we quickly realized upon arriving on campus that Vanderbilt was telling the truth after all.

On my walk from Commons to main campus each morning, I can look around and usually count at least 10 squirrels within a span of five seconds. Sometimes they’re simply basking in the morning sunshine, but other times, I catch them surreptitiously pilfering a leftover dining hall food item from the trash can. Occasionally, I’m even startled by one magically springing out of a trash can where it was scavenging for food and peeking at me guiltily. 

Surely these little critters with big personalities deserved their own visual essay. I photographed squirrels being squirrels all over campus, doing everything from gobbling down processed snacks to lying prone on their stomachs in the April sun. 

Squirrels always know when their photograph is being taken. Some of them even made eye contact with me as I snapped a picture.

Despite their silly habits, the Vanderbilt squirrels provide a small respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. In the heart of Vanderbilt’s campus, you would never know that Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. In our peaceful arboretum of campus, the only sounds are birds chirping and students laughing, and the squirrels are equally carefree. Most of all, the squirrels serve as a reminder to Vanderbilt’s high-achieving students to take a break from their studies and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them right here on campus in all seasons.