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Meet the face behind the squirrels of Bradley

Photo by Angeline Schmelzer.

The squirrels are taking over Bradley but they aren’t doing it alone, thanks to Dr. Cecile Arquette, the face behind the “Squirrels of Bradley” Instagram page.

The Instagram page is a way for students to watch funny videos of the squirrels that occupy campus. The profile is chock full of videos and pictures of the animals, with their activities including the animals eating, running around and climbing trees.

Arquette has been running the page for two years in addition to teaching the education, counseling and leadership department and has always been interested in squirrels. A few years ago, she even befriended one who always seemed to be drawn to her office.

“This animal actually got to the point where I recognized it; it had a really distinctive patch on its back, and I named it,” Arquette said. “Juliet, I called her because she was up on the balcony. She would recognize me. I would make a little noise at her and there were several times where she would follow me down the sidewalk.”

Arquette got the inspiration for the Instagram page from her fascination with squirrels and her furry friend Juliet, who helped her quickly gain 428 followers.

But while Arquette is the mastermind behind the whole page, she does have some help behind the scenes.

“I found ‘Squirrels of Bradley’ from a friend’s Instagram,” Maggie Gough, a junior television arts major, said. “They had taken a picture of a squirrel and tagged the account, so naturally I followed the account.”

It is obvious that Arquette’s love for squirrels is not the only reason she runs the Instagram. Her own students and the students here on campus are a huge reason for why she shares the videos with the world.

“If students from Bradley follow me, I automatically (as the squirrels) follow them back,” Arquette said. “I do go in and I comment and I heart stuff. Occasionally, there have been students who seem to be having some difficulties and I’ll DM [direct message] them. I’ll say, ‘Hey, I’m the person who’s behind ‘Bradley Squirrels’ and I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.’”

While Arquette has a blast posting about the squirrels, the students here on campus thoroughly enjoy scrolling through and watching all of the videos she has posted.

“I like that they’re [the squirrels] not afraid to walk up and interact with you,” freshman mechanical engineering major John Pigott said.

While it might be fun to just watch the videos that people have taken, submitters of videos find joy in helping Arquette share the squirrels with the world.

“I adore the squirrels on campus; they are very entertaining and very cute when they get up close,” Gough said. “So, anytime I have a close encounter with them, I always take pictures and want to share them with other Bradley squirrel fans.”

While students might have breaks from campus, the squirrels and Arquette never do. Since she lives near campus, it is easy for Arquette to walk over, say hello and film a few videos to keep the followers entertained.

“Sometimes I just go walking,” Arquette said. “It’s not like I go out and hunt for squirrels or something, but I just pull the phone out.”

Even though Arquette is running the page, she likes to play the part of the squirrels themselves. When thinking of captions, she always tries to make it seem like it is actually the squirrels posting.

“Part of what I write is from my heart because I love being a teacher; I love being a professor here,” Arquette said. “My students mean a lot to me, and it doesn’t have to be somebody in my class and so if I say ‘the squirrels are lonely without you on campus’ like during the pandemic, it really was. It was weird being here.”

The squirrels are always looking forward to seeing everyone on campus, and they are looking for more submitters to help gain their following. Keep an eye out for Bradley’s furry friends out on the quad but don’t get too close. 


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