The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

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)

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.

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About the Contributors
Isabella Bautista
Isabella Bautista, Life Copy Editor
Isabella Bautista (‘26) is double majoring in mathematics and psychology and minoring in biological sciences on the pre-medical track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Easton, Pa. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found spending hours alone in a piano practice room, photographing Vanderbilt squirrels with her Canon camera or poring over research papers in the lab she works in. She can be reached at [email protected]  
Narenkumar Thirmiya
Narenkumar Thirmiya, Staff Photographer
Narenkumar Thirmiya ('24) is from Orlando, Fla., and is majoring in neuroscience and medicine, health, and society in the College of Arts and Science. When not shooting for The Hustler, he is streaming TV, playing the piano or guitar or exploring nature photography. You can reach him at [email protected].
Sean Onamade
Sean Onamade, Digital Editor
Sean Onamade (‘25) is from Calgary, Canada, and is majoring in computer science in the School of Engineering. When not staying up late to work on code, Sean snaps photos, hits the gym and takes some time to learn a new language. He can be reached at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
Mehak Malhotra
Mehak Malhotra, Staff Photographer
Mehak Malhotra (’25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to double major in Psychology and Human and Organizational Development. She serves as a staff photographer in the Multimedia section. In her free time, she loves doing nature and cityscape photography, hanging out with her friends and exploring Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Ophelia Lu
Ophelia Lu, Deputy Photography Editor
Ophelia Lu (’26) is from Los Angeles and is double majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering in the School of Engineering. She previously served as a staff photographer. When not covering events and sports games for The Hustler, you can find her listening to a lot of music, studying at Starbucks or lying on Alumni lawn. She can be reached at [email protected].
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