Whether you are in the middle of your college search, in college, or graduated from college, mascots are a big deal. They shouldn’t be, but they are. Some colleges boast powerful mascots, like bulldogs, panthers, knights, and hawks. But not every school chooses a conventional– or even respectable– mascot. In fact, some schools select rather unconventional ones and often for rather strange and unorthodox reasons. Here are ten of the strangest, in no particular order — except for the last one.

University of Arkansas Boll Weevil mascot

1. Boll Weevils

At six millimeters longs, not many schools boast a mascot smaller than that of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Still, despite its diminutive size, the boll weevil is a formidable opponent — after all, it is the most destructive cotton pest in the United States. With that in mind, it is curious why men’s athletics at Monticello are represented by the Boll Weevils whereas the women are known as the “Lady Blossoms.”

UC Irvine Ant Eaters

2. Anteaters

Is it any wonder that the 1960s, a decade famous for political unrest and protest, would also see the rise of University of California-Irvine Anteaters? Inspired by Johnny Hart’s comic strip, “B.C.,” Zot the Anteater was introduced at the school’s first athletic event, a water-polo game, in which cheerleaders led the crowd in the now-infamous chant, “Give ’em tongue!”

UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs Mascot

3. Banana Slugs

While famous for its marijuana culture as well as the infamous “Porter Run,” in which students streak en masse through campus one night of the year, the University of California-Santa Cruz is also known for its distinctive mascot. The idea for the mascot grew out of the students’ disapproval of the fierce athletic competition fostered at other universities — hence, they chose the peaceable slug.

Delta State Fighting Okra Mascot

4. Fighting Okra

There are several legends as to how the Delta State “Statesmen” actually became known as the “Fighting Okra.” One version involves a group of athletes who decided to adopt a mascot that was more intimidating. Okra was suggested because it was green (the school color), Southern, and ugly. The name stuck.

Gray Harbor Chokers Mascot

5. Chokers

Although this rather unfortunate name is also slang for athletes who “choke” in the final minute and fritter away an easy victory, the Grays Harbor Chokers actually refer to an archaic logging term. Traditionally, “chokers” were men who wrapped logs with ropes prior to moving them to the lumberyard.

university of hawaii-hilo Vulcan Mascot

6. Vulcans

Given the volcanic activity in Hawaii, it is certainly appropriate that a local school would invoke the Roman God of Fire. That being said, upon hearing of the mascot of the University of Hawaii-Hilo, don’t most of us actually think of another prominent Vulcan as its representative? (Hint: Live long and prosper.)

Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops Mascot

7. Battling Bishops

Prior to 1925, the Ohio Wesleyan teams were known as the “The Red and Black” or as simply “The Methodists.” But given that there were a dozen Methodist colleges in the area, Ohio Wesleyan decided to have a contest and select a new name to distinguish itself. “Battling Bishops” was the winner.

scottsdale community college Artichokes Mascot

8. Artichokes

Coming on the heels of protest-mascots such as the Anteaters and the Banana Slugs, the Artichokes was chosen by the students of Scottsdale Community College in the early 1970s as a protest against the school administration’s practice of using scholarships intended for Native Americans to attract out-of-state athletes.

whittier college Poets Mascot

9. Poets

Named for a prominent poet and leader in the abolitionist movement, John Greenleaf Whittier, the Whittier College Poets are not quite as intimidating as the Fighting Okra nor even as peace-loving as the docile banana slugs. Then again, the Poets are also not as ridiculous as at least one mascot …

North carolina School of the Arts Fighting Pickles mascot

10. Fighting Pickles

Apparently, the Fighting Pickles was first suggested as a joke in 1972 when the North Carolina School of the Arts decided to have a contest to create a mascot. As with many mascot-choosing contests — when will school administrators learn? — the unlikely vegetable won, giving it not only the honor of becoming the school’s official mascot but probably the most ridiculous mascot of all time. Then again, what’s your school’s mascot?

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66 comments on “The 10 Strangest College Mascots

  • I found some information on the “Golden Flashes” on the Special Collections website at Kent State. Evidently, the original mascot for Kent State was actually the “Silver Foxes” — so named because Kent State’s first president, John McGilvrey, raised them. In 1926, there was a contest to select a new mascot, and the winning submission was the “Golden Flashes.” Since then, the “Golden Flashes” have been represented by a golden retriever named “Flasher” (1951-66), a cartoon character named “Grog” (1966-71), a golden palomino with a masked rider in blue and gold (1972-75), and finally, “Flash,” a giant furry eagle who is the present mascot. Finally, while certainly unique, the “Golden Flashes” hardly deserve mention alongside such mascots as Boll Weevils, Banana Slugs, and Fighting Pickles. “Flash” is much too respectable for that. “Grog” on the other hand …

  • Don’t forget about the good ol’ TCU Horned Frogs. How they turned an awkward little lizard into a proud mascot no one will ever know.

  • My shcool is Alfred University and our mascot is the Saxon… most students arent even sure of what a Saxon is.

  • Its not a college but my high school in Havre, Montana’s mascot is the Blue Ponies. Also Chinook High School just a mere 40 miles or so from Havre is the Sugar Beaters. Interesting side note, although their mascot is also the Blue Pony our swim team has a shark with the word pony written on it. Identity crisis?

  • Heh. The University of Delaware has the “Fightin’ Blue Hen” from the Colonial days when cock-fighting was a serious sport. Now keep in mind, a hen is a female chicken a cock is male. The current incarnartion, YoUDee is undeniably male, leaving us with a gender-confused chicken for a mascot. He is also known as the “big blue cock” and the “ass-kickin’ chicken”.

  • you didn’t mention the Evergreen State Geoducks(pronounced “gooey duck”)!!! This is the weirdest ever! The geoduck is a penis-shaped saltwater clam, and the best part is the Evergreen State Geoduck Fight Song:

    Go, Geoducks go,
    Through the mud and the sand,
    let’s go.
    Siphon high, squirt it out,
    swivel all about,
    let it all hang out.

    Go, Geoducks go,
    Stretch your necks when the tide is low
    Siphon high, squirt it out,
    swivel all about,
    let it all hang out.

    (words and music by Malcolm Stilson, 1971)

  • At my high school we were the Midland High “Chemics.” Don’t ask me what a Chemic is, but I think the name was chosen because the town is the home of Dow Chemical Corp. Our mascot is a guy who dresses up as “Captain Chemic,” a weirdie who looks similar to Ronald McDonald, but dressed in blue and gold, our school colors. Our school symbol is the Neils Bohr atom model.


  • I’d heard of the Evergreen State Geoducks… seriously weird.

    Also worth noting is that Skidmore’s mascot was the Wombat, once upon a time. Then school administrators came to their senses and changed it to the Thoroughbreds (a reflection on Saratoga and horses, not on snooty new england pedigrees).

  • Harvey Mudd College. We have no official mascot, but we all unofficially have adopted the wart (referring to an architectural oddity on most of our buildings) as our mascot.

  • How about the Tulsa Golden Hurricane? Think about it…Oklahoma is a land-locked state! The mascot, Captain ‘Cane looks like a wad of pissed-off chewing gum.

    Why Golden Hurricane? Well, because at the time, Georgia Tech was the Golden Tornado, which would have been a much more appropriate name for the University of Tulsa’s team.

  • Well, my alma mater has a rather unique mascot… I graduated from a private, Pentecostal college, and our team is the Flames and our mascot is Sparky. Read Acts Chapter 2 in the Bible and it will explain our mascot and our team. As Pentecostals, we believe in the fire of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives, and our team and mascot represents that.

  • There’s a school in western Michigan outside of Grand Rapids called Grand Valley State. They are the Lakers.. I’m guessing because Michigan is surronded by the great lakes.. not very intimidating unless you can’t swim..

  • I think Alli’s high school mascot and my high school’s mascot the Annandale ‘Atoms’ would get along just fine. Our mascot was the ‘Atom Man’, a kid dressed in a white turtle neck with a bunch of red and white hula hoops around him. I have no idea how they chose the atom as our mascot but it might have something to do with the school opening during the beginning of the atomic age.

  • Having gone to Claremont McKenna, I always thought that our cross-street rivals, Pomona College, had a dumb mascots. They are known as the Sagehens, an extinct desert chicken. I couldn’t make this up if I tried folks

  • Two other high school mascots are the Freeport “Prezels” and the Polo Community High School “Marcos”. Both located in Illinois. Couldn’t make that stuff up!!

  • Very weird all, but I actually graduated from Southern Arkansas University in beautiful Magnolia, AR. We are the Muleriders. No, I did not make that up. Supposedly had something to do w/ the football team riding mules to the train station to travel to away games in the by-gone era. (Nothing like being an athlete and having to admit that you are an ever-so-intimidating MULERIDER…arg!)

  • Western Maryland College (now called McDaniel College). We are the Green Terrors. Don’t know what in the world that is- but he he looks like a crazed animal!

  • Gentlemen,

    For the sake of accuracy, the official mascot of women’s athletics at the University of Arkansas at Monticello is “Cotton Blossoms,” not Lady Blossoms. And the Boll Weevil was chosen by our students back in the 1920s when cotton was still king in this area and there were no pesticides to stop boll weevils.

    Jim Brewer
    Director of Media Services

  • Can’t get weirder than a bivalve with gym shorts!!! We are trying to make a bobble head for the school and dealing with the long extended foot has proven interesting!!! Some think our version is too short and some think it’s too long. Everyone has their preference I guess!!!

  • What about the Ichabods of Washburn University (Kansas).

    This unusual mascot was chosen to honor the school’s early benefactor, Ichabod Washburn. Washburn University was originally established as Lincoln College in 1865. Three years later, the school faced bankruptcy, and Washburn, a Massachusetts philanthropist, donated $25,000 to the school. In appreciation of this gift, the name of the educational institution was changed to Washburn College.
    It wasn’t until 1938 that the original design of the studious-looking, tuxedo-clad figure was created by Bradbury Thompson, a student who became a nationally recognized graphic artist.

  • I graduated from Wayland Baptist University, in Plainview, Texas. Our teams are all “Pioneers”, except the women’s basketball team. They are the “Flying Queens” because a local air service flies them to all of their games.
    We used to live in Salt Lake City, where Jordan High School is known as “The Beatdiggers”. The student body had a vote, and over 80% of the students voted to keep the mascot!

  • True Stuff– I am from Polo and we are indeed the “Marcos”. What is a “Marco” is what most people ask. Our Mascot’s costume is a blue and yellow robe and a big “Marco” head to make the “marco Man”. He resembles a Mongolian warrior of sorts. So like you would see in mulan. NO JOKE…we are often subject to jokes about the game “Marco Polo” at sporting events.

  • Oh, you’ve just got to add my high school mascot, it’s up there on the list of strange ones:
    Jordan High School, in Sandy, Utah, USA,
    (The area used to have many sugarbeet farms. These are very large white beets, not the itty bitty little red ones.)

  • How about the Southern Arkansas University Fighting Muleriders? Oddly enough, they’re in the same conference with the Fighting Boll Weevils and the Fighting Okra, and it makes for some odd mascot match-ups down south.

  • hahaha, the one that made me laugh the most was probably the Fighting Pickles. I don’t know who would’ve thought to name their high school mascot the Fighting Pickles. Can you imagine goin’ to football games and trying to intimidate the other team with a name like that? In my opinion there are better available high school mascots than that one.

  • Supposedly had something to do w/ the football team riding mules to the train station to travel to away games in the by-gone era. (Nothing like being an athlete and having to admit that you are an ever-so-intimidating MULERIDER…arg!)

  • Great article – thanks! You can learn more about Immigration, Immigration related Laws, Terms and Conditions as well as the different histories at



  • The Salem Mass. HS mascot is a witch on a broom. When they defeat Bishop Jones HS the headline reads ‘The witches beat Bishop Jones 12 to 6’ makes me chuckle every time.
    The Lyme Conn. HS mascot should be the tick (as in Lyme disease). ‘Go Ticks Go’.

  • I graduated from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill Ca and we were proudly the fighting Acorns….Have never seen another school called the Acorns…was a great school

  • Haha, I had to check the comment section and make sure someone mentioned geoducks.
    As far as I'm concerned, the geoduck is the most awesome mascot ever. Not to mention our school motto is "omnias extares," Latin for "Let it all hang out." How great is that? XD

  • OK I know its not a college or anything but when I saw NC School of the Arts' mascot I had to mention my old NC highschool…..
    OK NB Broughton (name of school) Capitals/CAPS
    YEAAAAA….. because the school was like the first Raleigh public school or something which is the capital… and its like downtown raleigh too….. BUT STILLL
    and do you know what our actual MASCOT is? well neither do I!!!
    Thats right- WE DIDNT HAVEEEEEEEEEEE ONE! haha I mean seriously…. How do you raise school spirit when your mascots like a button on a keyboard.

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  • Wichita State University’s mascot’s are shocks of wheat! Wu-shock and Wee-shock. While appropriate for a university in KS, how intimidating is bundled straw???

  • Also, there are the Brandeis Judges, the Franklin & Marshall Diplomats, and the U of Maryland Turtles, er, oops, sorry, Terrapins.

  • I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  • While these are all good examples of strange names, my favorite still has to be the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The fact they are a professional team makes it all the better. They have to be the only team in history to be name after a fictional team in a kids movie.

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