Dave Sanders / The New York Times

April 17, 2024

Cornell Creatures, Ranked

Print More

Cornell, and the surrounding area, is home to an abundant selection of fauna. As an animal lover, and passionate hater of vermin, I’ve decided to compile a ranking of the best, and worst, Cornell creatures. Because it’s impossible to analyze them all, here are my five favorite and five most abhorred creatures of Cornell.

Five Most Foul

5. Arts Quad Deer: Normally I like deer, but the Cornell deer are far too humanized and urbanized for me. They huddle like thugs in the middle of the Arts Quad at night, looking shifty. Deer typically flee at the slightest disturbance, but I’ve confidently waddled past herds of deer without even realizing their presence. They’ve also been taking to the streets of Collegetown, loitering like the creeps they are while staring intensely at each passerby. 

4. Ren’s Mart Eels: I have nothing against eating unusual sea creatures. However, I can’t help but get the ick from these eels. Their thick, snakelike bodies piled in a leaky styrofoam cooler is a tad unnerving, and they don’t smell great either. Their neighboring containers, filled with piles of live frogs scrambling for dominance, are similarly off-putting. 

3. Collegetown Bagel Rats: I have a fun challenge for local readers who own cats. Next time you’re eating outside Collegetown Bagels, throw a rock into the surrounding bushes and let your cat out. Watch your beloved feline feast on the rodents that will explode from the foliage. 

2. Squirrels: Too greedy! The Cornell squirrels aren’t quite right. Like the deer, they are far too humanized and move in strange, suspicious ways. I believe they have questionable motives. They no longer eat nuts and are getting too sophisticated for their own good. The other day I encountered a squirrel making off with an entire jar of peanut butter. I witnessed another fatty drag an entire bagel to store on my roof, drop it, go back for it and successfully cram it in the gutter. 

1. Bats: The obvious winner of the most foul Cornell Creature Award. Whether you live in a dorm on North Campus or a house in Collegetown, no one is safe from bats at Cornell. It’s not so much their disgusting bodies, but the diseases they carry that generate the frenzy behind them. Freshman year, I recall my friend, a resident of High Rise 5, calling me at 2 a.m. after waking up to a bat on his face. It was caught and tested, so he was spared the agony of rabies shots. However, my eight friends who had a bat loose in their Collegetown house weren’t so lucky. Rabies shots ($5,000 out-of-pocket for each person) were in order and everybody survived, although sadly no one has acquired any superpowers. 

Five Finest

5. Skunks: During my two-year residency on North Campus, I’d always see skunks engorging themselves on scraps from Morrison Dining Hall. My favorite skunk was a fat white one, known notoriously as “Jeffery Skunk,” with an Instagram presence amassing over 1,000 followers. One of Jeff’s finest moments was when he blocked me from my dorm for over half an hour as he sat in a puddle of melted ice cream, furiously lapping up the last drops, oblivious to nervous students stepping over him. Many students throw scraps for their beloved Jeff to munch on, and he has yet to spray anyone. However, I don’t want to be the first. I give Jeff and his friends a wide berth. 

4. Cornell birds: “I enjoyed listening to the bones crunch,” one of my professors remarked regarding a nearby hawk on the Arts Quad devouring a mouse. I, too, enjoy seeing the massive hawk that frequents campus, as well as the countless other species of birds in the area. Cornell is internationally renowned for its Lab of Ornithology, and one can spot a variety of fun birds, especially while walking around Beebe Lake.

3. Service dogs: Whenever I walk around campus, I see these adorable labs being trained by their volunteer handlers. Many of them are with the Cornell Guiding Eyes Club, and are being trained on-campus to later help those with visual impairments. These service dogs universally brighten students’ day, and I myself am very fond of the yellow labs. 

2. Farm Animals: You can find hundreds of sheep, including newborn spring lambs at the Cornell teaching barns. What more could you want? There’s also a fine selection of hogs, chicks and cows. I quite enjoy peering into the pig pen and giving the swine my best. 

1. Groundhogs: I believe groundhogs have been endowed with a special wisdom, and should be trusted with our weather reports every day. I especially like the looks of the Cornell groundhogs. They’re good and fat, always vigilant and command respect. Many scamper around in burrows on the fringes of Cornell, and The Cornell Orchards are overrun with them, where they feast on fruit and plants. I would sooner let a groundhog gamble for me in Vegas than myself. They have a hidden depth and dignified authority in their eyes that’s forced me to rank them as the number one Cornell Creature. 

Bonus Pet Features:

Mirabel: Daniela, the Cornell Daily Sun’s Dining Editor has a delightful ragdoll cat that makes regular appearances at Sun meetings. At two years old, Mirabel is outgoing, playful, and has a serious diva side to her. She always greets everybody cheerfully, loves tuna treats and is quite the jetsetter, traveling all over the country with Daniela. 

Adobe: My former roommate and her boyfriend have adopted a particularly unique critter, a violet Chinchilla named Adobe. Adobe leads a charmed life in a giant cage with lots of toys and treats and is frequently let out to explore the apartment. Adobe is incredibly soft and has his own instagram account, where his fans enjoy footage of his everyday life.

Rocky: My opinion editor, Henry, is one of the 85 caretakers of his fraternity’s dog, a white golden retriever puppy. At seven months old, Rocky is extremely energetic and rowdy. Rocky’s favorite pastimes include schmoozing up the ladies, eating grass and digging holes. 

Aurora Weirens is a third year student in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].