Are squirrels dangerous to humans? In general, squirrels are not a danger to humans, but they can be, and it’s important to be aware of the possibility. They can bite and scratch, and their urine and feces are unsanitary. Treat them with the respect you would give any other wild animal – because if you have squirrels in your house, it’s a situation that can get out of hand quickly.
Recent Cases of Squirrel Mayhem
In the last decade, there have been numerous surprising cases of squirrels that became aggressive and attacked people. This has happened in New York a few times. It has also happened in the UK, where a formerly docile squirrel snapped and injured eighteen people in a two-day biting and scratching frenzy.
The squirrels weren’t diseased, or rabid. Investigations turned up no apparent reasons why the squirrels did what they did. To this day, it remains a mystery.
What Would Happen If a Squirrel Attacked You
No, we’re not saying you should be worried about the squirrels in your neighborhood. Even with squirrel attacks on the rise, it’s extremely unlikely that a squirrel will attack you. But what would happen if one did?
Once you got the squirrel off you, you would want to seek first aid for the bites and scratches. Infection is a concern with a squirrel bite. You’ll want to wash and sterilize the wound as soon as possible.
To be on the safe side, you may also want to seek attention from a medical professional. They can advise you whether there’s any reason to be concerned about disease transmission, and offer next steps. Squirrels do carry diseases, but human transmission is uncommon.
In the days following the attack if the wound does look like it’s becoming infected – lots of inflammation, high degree of pain that won’t go away, leaking pus – go immediately to an emergency room.
The most likely outcome from a squirrel attack is that you’ll be absolutely fine. Your scratches and scrapes will heal in a few days or weeks, and you’ll be no worse for the wear.
Never Touch Squirrel Feces/Urine or Dead Squirrels
Getting bit or scratched might feel painful, but the real risk of catching a squirrel-borne disease comes from their feces and urine – or touching a dead squirrel.
Both leptospirosis and salmonellosis are easily transmitted through squirrel waste. Leptospirosis has a wide range of possible symptoms – from none for some people, to fever, headaches, jaundice, kidney failure, and death in severe cases. Salmonellosis is the bacteria that causes salmonella poisoning, which is a painful infection that can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
Tularemia is a disease that’s often transmitted when a person finds a dead squirrel outside and tries to move it. Also known as “rabbit fever,” tularemia presents symptoms such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, skin lesions, and sepsis. Tularemia requires antibiotic treatment, and if left untreated, can be fatal.
Rabies is another disease that squirrels can transmit, but rabid squirrels are fortunately rare. If you do get bit and have any reason at all to suspect the presence of rabies, you will need to seek medical attention to get a series of shots to prevent the disease. Rabies symptoms can take months or even a year or two to present, but the disease is 100% fatal in humans if they do.
Another way squirrels can harm people is property damage. Squirrels get trapped in attics and cause a lot of problems. They leave their urine and feces, and chew through materials to free themselves. Sometimes they’ll chew through wiring, which can spark a fire. Sometimes they’ll chew through pipes, which can trigger a plumbing crisis.
Those are just two of the ways that trapped squirrels can lead to significant property damage, and there are many more. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get a professional rodent exterminator to take care of the problem as soon as you know it’s there.
Don’t Hand Feed Squirrels
If there’s one thing you should learn from all of this it’s that squirrels are wild animals and they should be treated like it. Yes, they look cute, and they’re small, and they may live in your front and backyard, and most of the time they’re timid and run from humans.
But there are thousands of years of evolution in a squirrel’s brain and we understand very little about it. So don’t try to approach squirrels and don’t try to feed them from your hand. When you do, you’re interfering with their natural instincts and that can lead to consequences.
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What Makes Squirrels Dangerous to Humans? in Albuquerque NM
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