Squirrel goes nuts, attacks 18 people, and is put down by the RSPCA

A grey squirrel, nicknamed “Stripe” by residents after the evil character in the comedy horror film The Gremlins has been euthanised by the RSPCA because it attacked the residents of Buckley, North Wales, UK in large numbers. They appear to have been unprovoked attacks. I’ve not seen a report which explains why it happened but the RSPCA advise that people should not feed squirrels to deter possible attacks.

Rogue squirrel attacks 18 residents in Wales

Rogue squirrel attacks 18 residents in Wales. Image: SWNS.

That implies that feeding squirrels encourages squirrels to attack people. I found the advice extraordinary. Initially I felt that it was incorrect but I’ve changed my mind. Locals reported being attacked in their gardens by the sharp teeth of the squirrel. There were also clawed to the point where blood was drawn. Some people were afraid to go into their gardens. And some citizens required a tetanus jab afterward.

For example, Sheree Davidson, 42, was bitten on her hand when she took her bins out for collection. She told a local newspaper:

“This squirrel is not very nice at all, it’s a nutty squirrel. He’s a bit of a psycho, he’s had five or six of my neighbours.”

She had told her five-year-old child to stop playing in her backyard until something was done about the squirrel.

The squirrel had three distinctive bold patches on its tail. One resident, Scott Felton, 34, was taken to hospital on Boxing Day after he was bitten. He was having a cigarette at is backdoor. He crouched down and Stripe came out of nowhere and jumped onto his garden table. The squirrel then jumped onto his arm and bit him on his hand. The whole event took place very rapidly.

He had to have a tetanus jab because the skin was broken.

Corinne Reynolds, 65, was also bitten but she caught Stripe in a trap in her back garden. She handed him to veterinarians who, I understand, called the RSPCA. The RSPCA, as mentioned, euthanised him.

Normally when you approach a squirrel they run away. That is the experience of nearly everybody including myself. I feed squirrels in my backyard. But they have been known to attack adult humans, pets and children. There are many documented cases of this occurring. They can be aggressive when they feel frightened or threatened.

I’ve just remembered: when I was a toddler, a squirrel came into my parents’ home and bit me on my left thigh. The scar is still there.

If a squirrel does approach you with intent you are advised to make loud noises to scare it away. One expert says that a squirrel may attack because it wants food but you have nothing to offer. Perhaps this is what is going on. People feed squirrels and they get used to being fed and if the person does not provide the food, they become aggressive. A form of survival instinct which has been trained into them by people.

In the alternative, also as mentioned, for some reason they feel threatened and then become defensively aggressive. Although in the stories it appears that the attacks were unprovoked with the victims being entirely passive.

In addition to the possibility of contracting tetanus, one website tells me that necrotising fasciitis is a serious complication of a squirrel bite.

Sometimes squirrels stare at humans. It might be out of fear, curiosity or attempt to communicate with people. My squirrels sometimes stare at me. They do so, in my opinion, because they know I am about to restock their feeding box and they are waiting for me to do it. Or they look at me before I do it to encourage me to complete the task.

My gut feeling is that Stripe attacked people over food. He was probably expecting it and not getting it therefore due to the omission felt threatened. This squares up with the RSPCA advice. This squirrel did not have rabies by the way.

Postscript: this is an afterthought. Although I fully understand why the RSPCA put the squirrel down, it is disappointing. If, as stated, the reason why this squirrel attacked people is because people fed the squirrel then it is a problem created by people. To compound that problem the animal has been put down, their life foreshortened for no reason of its own. That is inherently unfair.

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