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Thursday May 26th

UNC faculty member makes unexpected bond with campus squirrel

<p>Lynn Owens cradles her pet squirrel, Mr. Nuts.</p>
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Lynn Owens cradles her pet squirrel, Mr. Nuts.

A campus squirrel spent the night off-campus after imprinting with a UNC lecturer. 

Broadcast and electronic journalism lecturer Lynn Owens left to take a phone call on Tuesday when a squirrel got into her car while it was parked by the admissions office.

“As I was leaving campus right after class, I was on Highway 40, and I felt something on my foot. I looked down and a squirrel was crawling up my leg," she said. "I kind of had a moment of panic, but obviously I’m driving on the highway, so I kind of kept calm and the squirrel crawled into my lap, drove all the way home, and I realized obviously that the squirrel had somehow got into my car on campus."

Owens said she’s not quite sure how he got into her car. 

“I put (my tote bag) on the wall, which is right there with trees and everything," Owens said. "I think that the squirrel might have smelled snacks or something in my bag and crawled in."

She took the squirrel to her house to stay overnight. Her kids named him Mr. Nuts and wanted to keep it. Knowing that wasn’t a good idea, she took the squirrel back on campus the next day. But he didn’t want to leave without her.

“I let it go, and the thing didn’t want to leave me,” she said. “He kept crawling back up my leg and I’m like, 'buddy go, you’re free,' but it kept crawling up my leg.”

Owens said when she got in touch with several people she found out there are actually licensed wildlife and squirrel rehabilitators. She said she found Wildlife Welfare and was told it looked like an orphan while she was dropping it off.

“The squirrel might have been separated by his parents somewhere on campus,” she said. 

Ann Rogers, a Board of Directors member for Wildlife Welfare, said the organization deals mainly with baby animals in the area that need help. She said the squirrel will probably be put with several others. 

“This one is old enough to eat some solid foods," Rogers said. "So it will be in a group of four to five squirrels, and he will eventually be released.”

Owens said she brought the squirrel into her office in a crate on Wednesday. When she told her class about the squirrel, they wanted to see it, so she brought the squirrel to class.

“The students got a kick out of it,” she said. “There were a lot of selfies.”

Student Body President Elizabeth Adkins said she had class with Dr. Owens last year. When she saw on social media that she had a squirrel, she went to her office to go visit. 

“She came in with Mr. Nuts, and I got to hold him,” she said. “He was wonderful and cute.”

Adkins said she loves squirrels and has always wanted to hold one.  

“He was so cute and very calm, which I didn’t expect,” she said.

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