Rating HMC (Harvey Mudd Critters)

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Today we have another guest post for you on some of the cuddly and not-so-cuddly critters found on campus:

Hi everyone! I’m Briana, a rising senior engineering major. I’m from Eastvale CA, only about half an hour’s drive from Mudd.

Headshot of Briana Liu

Abundant wildlife might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Harvey Mudd. After all, we’re located in Claremont, a small suburban city. If you take a walk though, you’ll cross paths with a number of creatures scampering about their own days. It seems they enjoy the greenery on campus as much as we do! Below, I’ve outlined my extremely serious objective ratings of these critters. Criteria include ecological importance, friendliness, and (of course) cuteness.

A small lizard about the size of a finger resting on a sunlit sidewalk

I got 1.5 feet away from this tiny friend before it ran away into the bushes

First up, we have lizards. The lizards on campus range in size from small to very small. They tend to sunbathe at the edge of the sidewalk, wisely out of the way of most pedestrians and longboarders. In fact, they get so warm and relaxed that sometimes they don’t even run away when people pass close by. That’s the SoCal lifestyle for you! Prof. Adolph, a biology professor, actually does research on how lizards are affected by thermal environments. It’s not uncommon to see students in his labs around campus using special gentle lizard catchers to bring some back for studies.

Rating: Know how to chill out, great research subjects. 9/10

Side view of a squirrel perched on all four legs in the fork of a tree

Snapped on my way into the office the other day #squirrel

Next up, we have a college classic – squirrels. Next-door Scripps College is somewhat known for their squirrels and their snapchat filter prominently features one. While you could take a 5 minute walk to Scripps to see some squirrels, you can also hang out with some right here at Mudd! There’s a bit of a running tradition among students to post pictures of squirrel sightings on our Harvey Mudd community app captioned #squirrel. Most squirrels are pretty calm, but there used to be a mean one that hung out next to the Platt Campus Center. It would run at people like it wanted to attack them. From experience, it’s funnier when other Mudders are speed walking away from a tiny squirrel than when you are the Mudder being pursued. Maybe it just wanted food, but I’m a tad wary of these little guys now.

Rating: Fluffy, nice warm color palette, beady eyes on my food? 8/10

A bee drinking nectar from a small purple flower

Sorry this image isn’t great, I was afraid to get too close…

In more floral spots on campus, you might happen across a few bees. I’ve never heard of anyone getting stung, but I give them a wide berth anyway. (At this point, you probably realize that I’m no Steve Irwin). Even though they make me a little nervous, I’m grateful to them for all their hard work pollinating the plants around campus. Another professor in the biology department, Prof. Donaldson-Matasci, does research on the behavior of social insects, including bees. The Claremont Colleges share use of a biological field station just north of Mudd. Prof. Donaldson and her lab use drones to make maps of what species of flowers are present at the field station and also observe plants to see how many bees and other pollinators visit them. Pretty rad! The bees can stay for now…I guess.

Rating: Could sting me but haven’t yet, keep plants healthy. 9/10

Poorly lit nighttime photo of rabbit sitting on a lawn in a dorm courtyard

One of the South courtyard rabbits after sunset, hence the poor lighting (image creds to Carrie S. ‘19)

If you walk around after sundown, you’ll probably see some rabbits hopping around the patches of grass on campus. There are two who visit South Dorm’s courtyard regularly. According to my friend Elizabeth P. ‘19, Southies (what we call South Dorm residents) have dubbed them Mocha and Macchiato.  It’s always nice to have a little company when I’m walking back to my room after a late night of homework in Platt. I still have no idea where they go during the day, but I’m impressed by how well they handle the cold at night.

Rating: Cute, tough, mysterious. 9/10

Hixon Court fountain as seen from above. There is a statue of Venus in a large fountain with lilypads and koi fish

Peaceful, sunlit Hixon Court

One of my favorite places on campus is Hixon Court, a sunken courtyard that opens onto the Galileo auditoriums. When I was a frosh, I would come out of the dark, drab lecture hall after CS5 (intro to computer science) lecture to spend a little time in the sunlight and say hi to the koi fish in the fountain before my next class. The fish aren’t exactly affectionate, but they do swim to the side of the fountain when you walk up. Galileo was recently renovated and it’s pretty bright in there now, but I still like to visit my fishy friends.  

Rating: colorful, peaceful, good listeners. 10/10

Close-up of lilypads and white, orange, and black koi fish (a few the size of a forearm and some the size of a cucumber)

Looking spiffy, friends!

That completes my little overview of some of the creatures of Harvey Mudd, but this is far from a comprehensive list. If you’d like to see what other flora and fauna can be found in the Mudd region, check out the Bernard Field Station website or just wander around if you’re visiting us! There are always cool new critters and places on campus if you take a minute to find them.