Man, when squirrels go nuts ... they really go nuts.
A squirrel described as “unusually aggressive” is terrorizing humans in a Brooklyn park, and a 7-year-old girl has become its latest victim.
“It kind of looked like a flying squirrel – he jumped on my arm, and then he started to bite my arm – but I had no food! I had no food, I had nothing!” Maria Guerrero told WABC-TV in New York on Sunday.
New York media report the squirrel has attacked at least five people in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, including one jogger.
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The New York City Health Department, worried that the animal’s unusually aggressive behavior might signal rabies, is urging people who have been hit in the last two weeks to get checked for rabies. The same goes for any pets that have been bitten.
The attacks all reportedly happened between July 18 and July 20 in the same area of the park.
The attack on young Maria sounds like the scene from a movie about killer squirrels.
Her family said the squirrel, totally unprovoked, jumped through the air at her and sank its teeth into her arm.
Hearing her screams, Maria’s father pried the animal’s jaws open and threw it on the sidewalk.
But then the punk squirrel came back – twice – and tried to attack again before running off and hiding in a nearby tree, WABC reported.
Park-goer Leku Percival was feeding a squirrel – it’s not known whether it was the same one that attacked Maria – when it nipped him on the hand. He posted video of his brief encounter to YouTube.
“Yo, why you gonna bite me like that!” Percival says to the squirrel.
He told New York media he knew he shouldn’t have been feeding the squirrel; squirrels have been known to bite people who feed them.
He told WABC he hadn’t seen a doctor but then changed his mind after he heard about the other attacks. “I’ll be there in the next 24 hours,” he said.
Since New York state began such surveillance in 1992, it has never found a squirrel with rabies, according to WPIX in New York, which added there have been no known cases of squirrel-to-human rabies transmission in the United States.
“Aggression in squirrels is extremely rare, but park-goers’ behavior toward all wildlife should remain the same: Do not approach the animals with whom we share our city, but rather appreciate them from a distance,” parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver told WPIX.
“Keeping your distance protects both you and the animals themselves.”
Squirrel aggression might be rare, but it does happen.
In 2015 a gray fox squirrel made news by attacking eight people in their yards and even a school in Marin County, Calif., where it ran after one teacher fleeing a room, reported the Marin Independent Journal.
The wife of one man being attacked in his garage tried to beat the squirrel away with a broom before it began attacking her, too. The man managed to grab it by the tail and whip it onto the ground, dazing it.
Last year a squirrel attacked several people in the activities room of a senior retirement living center in Florida. Someone called 911 to report that a squirrel got into the building and was jumping on people and attacking them. At least three people were bitten before the squirrel ran from the building, according to KHQ.
One park-goer in Brooklyn told The New York Times she’s come to expect aggressiveness from the local squirrels. They just walk right up to parents and kids at the playground.
“They’re just bold,” said Sara Haynes, 36. “They won’t run away from you.”
Squirrel experts say the animals get aggressive toward humans when they become too comfortable around them, especially when people feed them.
The bushy-tailed bully in Brooklyn is still on the loose. Authorities believe if it does have rabies it could be dead by now.