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Here's how one student is making money dressing up squirrels

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Here's how one student is making money dressing up squirrels

WATCH | Penn State's "squirrel whisperer" is a social media hit with the help of Sneezy the squirrel. 

Mary Krupa isn't your average college senior. 

On Penn State's campus, she is known as the "squirrel whisperer" because she puts tiny hats on the creatures and coaxes them into holding miniature props using tiny morsels of food. 

But Krupa's knack for capturing cute photos of posed squirrels has gained notoriety far beyond Penn State's campus. 

Krupa started her own Facebook page titled "Sneezy the Penn State Squirrel" and it already has more than 40k likes. 

Beyond that, Krupa has even created her own wall calendar that she's selling on Zazzle for $25.95. The calendar features Sneezy in outfits for every season.

She made her first calendar last year and managed to sell about 100. They were so popular that her inbox was filled with requests for a 2017 calendar by this fall, so of course, Krupa decided to make another one. 


I'm passionate about educating others about nature, so I always make sure the calendars include a nutty fact about squirrels for each month.
Mary Krupa

"One of my favorite pieces of squirrel trivia is that, if they know another squirrel is watching them bury a nut, squirrels will 'fake out' the potential thief by pretending to bury the nut in several different places before actually hiding it somewhere else," Krupa explained. 

According to Krupa, 10 percent of the proceeds from calendar sales will benefit the ACRES Project, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit dedicated to helping adults with autism and intellectual disabilities.

For Krupa, the cause is personal because she was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which is a mild form of autism.

Krupa's Zazzle store also features a Sneezy Christmas card. 

It's nice to make something and see that people like it. But I didn't think it would last this long or become this popular.
Mary Krupa

She's been interacting with the squirrels since her first week on campus and said the animals have helped her come out of her shell. 

Krupa said the squirrels are a conversation starter and have allowed her to meet new people on campus. 

"I'll be sitting here patting a squirrel and other people will come over and we'll just start like feeding the squirrels together and chatting about them," she said. 

She's been bitten twice, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against touching wild animals. 

Still, Krupa is dedicated to visiting the squirrels on campus and plans to continue doing so after she graduates in December.

Krupa said she hopes to combine her writing ability with her passion for wildlife conservation for a future career. 

"My dream job would probably be to work at an accredited zoo or nonprofit, helping to educate people about how to respect nature and conserve it for future generations," Krupa said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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