Treasured Campus Celebrity Jeff the Rodent on Love, Nature and Their Student Relationships

5 min read

Boob Woodward ’26

Staff Writer

Every Trinity student knows the feeling: when you are walking back to your AC-less dorm on a hot spring day after bombing a final exam and, in your fear and hopelessness, you stop and smell the roses. Not literally, of course, that would be disgusting. But, maybe you take a look around, try to appreciate the scenery, and then you see it. Your savior. Jeff the Rodent, Trinity’s resident groundhog, staring at you from the bushes as if to say — “Everything will be okay. One failed exam will not change the course of your life so dramatically that you will live in your mother’s basement for the rest of your life.” You continue on with your day with a new exuberance in the way you look at the world, mystified by your interaction with such a beautiful creature. Spotting Jeff is like a Trinity rite of passage.

In an exclusive interview with the Tripod after stumbling upon each other in the Zion Hill cemetery, Jeff the Rodent revealed their love for the Trinity community. “My family has lived in Frog Hollow for generations,” Jeff told the Tripod in a series of grunts and squeals. “It’s a great neighborhood with such a great variety of produce.” On a campus so interested in the antics of wildlife (really, what is up with those squirrels?) Jeff is a treasured friend, especially to Vernon street residents, who frequently spot him in the spring. While they are not the only groundhog on campus, they are easily recognizable by their light colored cheeks and brown tail.

Jeff, who is often sorely missed by Trinity students during his winter hibernation, has their very own Instagram account (@jefftherodent), where they post pictures of themselves and other Trinity animals such as rabbits and skunks. When asked to comment on the recent skunk death reported by the Tripod, Jeff wanted to “clarify the rumors — there are several campus skunks. I know of at least three: Jackson Skunk, Vernon Skunk, Allen Skunk. There have been other skunks that have passed through but those three are consistent residents. All of the skunks I have met have been very nice, but they do like their space.” When it comes to the reported death, Jeff said that “There were a couple skunk friends who did pass away earlier this semester, but it is believed those skunks were visitors to campus.” 

When it comes to their personal life, Jeff is on the market for partnership: “There is no Mrs. Jeff in the picture currently. I love my life as a single hog, but if Puxatawney Phil was single he could slide into my DMs.” Phil, if you are reading this, Trinity would love to see you and Jeff galavanting around campus. While Jeff may or may not be able to predict the weather, we at the Tripod still believe that Phil and Jeff would make quite the power couple.

In having their voice heard in the Tripod, Jeff wished to express how valuable the natural world is to the Trinity community. “If I could take classes at Trinity I think I would be an environmental science major. Politically, I am for freedom for oppressed peoples, protection of our natural habitats, and all for the prevention of further climate disasters. The reason I started @jefftherodent was to raise awareness for the local wildlife on campus. Students rush to classes and meetings every day but struggle to take the time to just watch the nature around them. The account encourages people to observe animals in their “natural” environment while still giving them their space.” When asked if they had ever tried to attend environmental science classes, he stated that “Although I would love to attend classes, I don’t know how to read and my thumbs aren’t completely opposable so it makes holding a pencil hard.”

Jeff encourages students to treat wildlife with respect, although they do not seem to have a desire to be coddled in any way. “I don’t feel particularly integrated into the campus community but I also don’t necessarily think I should be. I’m different than the squirrels that eat from the trash cans or cats that sun themselves in front of Hillel. I’m a solitary groundhog and I like being a solitary creature, but I am still a proud bantam.” Speaking about how Trinity students engage with them, Jeff said that “I think students do respect me generally. People give me my space and are respectful of my boundaries while still admiring how cool I am (I’m very cool). I think there are some that don’t respect me as a fellow creature, but the vast majority respect me for the hog I am.” Reflecting on their time with Trinity students, Jeff said, “I’ve had some great interactions with students! I’m becoming a bit of a celebrity on my side of campus. I have some very devoted fans that take incredible pictures and videos of me all at my best angles. I have had some DM interactions that aren’t the most fantastic, but I try to focus on the good.” 

Ultimately, Jeff stands as a testament to the beauty of the natural world around campus. If you see them in the future, make sure to take a picture (and get their good side!) so you can send it to @jefftherodent and be featured on their account. Who knows — perhaps their presence will provide you with the luck you need to ace that next exam or finally speak to the person in Mather you have been eyeing all week. 

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