Meet Mr. Nuts: Professor and squirrel become unlikely friends - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Meet Mr. Nuts: Professor and squirrel become unlikely friends

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Courtesy NBC News Courtesy NBC News
NORTH CAROLINA -

NBC News- Every day, people drive to animal shelters to adopt a pet.

But on occasion, it's the animals who do the adopting- even if it's just for a short time.

Driving home from her job as a professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Dr. Lynn Owens, felt a surprise. 

"In my car, I feel something moving on my foot. A squirrel is walking up my leg. There was Initial shock, how did a squirrel get here? You know I was going 75 mph on the highway. So I was trying to keep cool, and it just relaxed on my lap like it was a cushion or something. So I just kept driving with the squirrel there," said Dr. Owens.

She thinks the squirrel may have gotten in her tote bag on campus, although that is still a mystery. And since he came from campus, Owens wanted to take him back there -- only the release didn't go quite according to plan.

"I went to release the squirrel. It sat there and looked at me and then ran right back up my leg like I'm it's momma or something so I take the squirrel out again and said you're free buddy, it ran right back up my leg so I'm thinking you know maybe this squirrel isn't ready to be back out in the wild. I don't know but I couldn't just leave it there. So I ended up taking it to my office. It was there on my shoulder during office hours," said Dr. Owens.

And suddenly, Owens was the most popular person on campus. 

"I had more students come to office hours today than all of last semester combined. They were begging me to keep it."

Her students weren't the only ones who wanted to keep the squirrel. Her two young girls were disappointed when he didn't come back home.

"They named him Mr. Nuts. They're like "Mr. Nuts- he can live with us. He can live with us. He loves us." He's a great squirrel but I don't have that kind of time."

Instead, Owens took the squirrel to a rehab center where he'll be bottle fed and meet other orphan squirrels.

"It's been a wild 24 hours. I think it's a happy ending for the squirrel."

The wildlife rehabilitator says fall and spring are the most common time for orphan squirrels to need rescuing. The squirrel is only about 4 to 5 weeks old and will be well taken care of until he's ready to go back out into the wild.

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