When freshman Mary Krupa began feeding the squirrels on Penn State’s campus, she never envisioned she’d one day be making miniature hats for one of them.
But the more she fed them, the friendlier the critters became. One squirrel in particular was comfortable enough to eat straight from Krupa’s hand.
She named the squirrel Sneezy and eventually began stroking the animal’s head. Then she got an idea.
“I honestly don't know what inspired me to put hats on her. I just wanted to see what I could do as it was funny,” Krupa told The Daily Mail.“I had a tiny doll hat with me and tried it. Amazingly, she sat there with it on long enough for me to take a picture. It was so cute,” she said.
Krupa then began making other hats for Sneezy. She crafts most of them from computer printouts, but she’s found others in local craft stores.
Every time she placed a hat on Sneezy’s head, she took a picture — and Krupa soon earned herself the nickname of the “Squirrel Whisperer.”
Eventually Sneezy and the photos became so popular that Krupa created a Facebook page for the squirrel, and the furry critter — whose gender is under scrutiny — now has more than 7,500 fans.
“In total I have probably made and photographed a few more than 20 hats and plan to keep on going as long as Sneezy is enjoying it too,” Krupa said.
Thinking of dressing up the local wildlife?
Although squirrels and other animals are cute — especially when sporting a tiny fez — the Humane Society cautions that feeding wild animals can often result in more harm than good.
When animals learn that people are a food source, they often lose their natural fear of humans, which can put the animal at risk. Also, animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease.
Learn more about feeding wildlife, and check out some of Sneezy’s stylish looks below.