Every week there seems to be a new animal of interest at Virginia Tech; the otter, the HokieBird and now, a squirrel.
A female squirrel outside Hokie Grill ingested something poisonous Thursday, Aug 29. Brettan O’Beirne, a junior in animal and poultry sciences was on her way to Hokie Grill when she spotted a crowd near the dining hall.
“I was actually heading to Hokie Grill to eat. There was a guy who was already there trying to keep people from stepping on the squirrel,” O’Beirne said. “He was trying to call the local vets to see if they could help. When I saw her on the ground, I literally couldn’t help but step in, because I’m a pre-veterinary student, and I’m super guilty of feeding the campus squirrels.”
O’Beirne said while calling the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center, the man shielding the public from the squirrel filled O’Beirne in.
“He mentioned that she had kind of been wobbling around but collapsed right before I got there,” O’Beirne said. “There was also a slight bit of foam in her mouth. I also noticed that based on the state of her nipples that she was both female and had given birth recently.”
In addition to O’Beirne helping the squirrel, a police officer was helping keep students away from the squirrel, and another student gave O’Beirne a box to transport the squirrel to the wildlife center.
After taking the now unconscious squirrel to Roanoke, O’Beirne was told by the wildlife center that the squirrel was dehydrated and would eventually be healed.
The concern for the “Hokie Grill squirrel” has been all over Facebook and Twitter.
That evening, O’Beirne posted on both platforms that the squirrel died that night due to too many toxins in her body.
And for her babies? O’Beirne also mentioned in the post that she wants people to message her if they’ve seen any squirrel babies near Hokie Grill so she can give them proper care.
“I want to invite people to be aware of the wildlife around them and how we affect living creatures in our daily lives,” O’Beirne said. “I was asked to keep an eye out for baby squirrels that have fallen from nests, because if they’ve fallen, it means they haven’t been fed in a while, so they get restless and ultimately fall.”
O’Beirne also wants to let others know that there are ways to get rid of small animals and rodents with materials other than traps and poison.
“I want to take this opportunity to tell people to consider pest control methods other than rat poisoning and glue traps because they are inhumane and cause a lot of unnecessary suffering,” O’Beirne said. People might assume that rat poison kills very quickly, but depending on how much is ingested, the animal can die very slowly and painfully.”
The next time you’re craving a chicken sandwich or coffee, keep an eye out for baby squirrels. Until we find a new animal on campus to become our new honorary mascot, please be mindful of your furry friends on campus no matter how big or small they are.