Squirrels rarely make the headlines, but in late December of 2020, news reports placed the fluffy-tailed rodent in the spotlight. Apparently, at least one of these generally docile animals attacked at least five residents in the Queens Borough of New York City. It did not appear that the residents provoked the incidents. As such, there were claims that the squirrels in question were rabid. The news of vicious squirrels likely caused some Milwaukee residents to cast suspicious glances at the scampering critters in their own neighborhoods.
The Whole Truth
It’s easy to understand how an incident like the one in NY could grow into an urban legend, and why the seemingly innocent squirrel in your backyard suddenly seems like it might turn on you at any moment. The truth is that squirrels are not natural rabies carriers. The disease is only very rarely ever found in these animals, and no human has ever contracted rabies after being bitten by a squirrel.
The Queens incidents are the most recently reported occurrences of squirrels attacking people, but it was not an isolated issue. Though these cute little critters are normally pretty uninterested in humans, there are instances when their personality shifts from timid to troublesome for no apparent reason. It doesn’t happen very often, but the stories pop up occasionally in various parts of the country. The Centers for Disease Control does not actually keep track of the number of incidents because squirrel attacks are highly unlikely to be deadly.
The Real Problem
Of course, it only seems like squirrels attack for no reason whatsoever. One of the most likely causes for the personality shift has to do with people’s behaviors, not squirrels. When people start feeding squirrels by hand, the animals begin to lose their fear of people. Worse than that, they start expecting a handout whenever they get hungry. This increases the risk that they will become aggressive if they don’t get what they are looking for.
We know that squirrels are adorable when they eat. We love watching them nibble on a nut, too! If you enjoy observing them, do so safely. Set up feeders in your backyard rather than attempting to feed them by hand. It is natural for squirrels to have a healthy fear of humans. It helps keep them safe, and, as the incidents in NY demonstrate, it helps keep people safe, too.
The Precautionary Principle
The idea behind the precautionary principle is to err on the side of caution in the face of uncertainty. Even though squirrels don’t often show aggression, and they seldom carry rabies, it is still important to take measures to keep you and them safe. These creatures have adapted to living alongside humans, and sometimes they find their way into our homes. Rather than making any attempt to coax them out, befriend them or capture them, you should always contact squirrel removal Milwaukee specialists.
Squirrels are more inclined to avoid confrontation with people, but if you attempt to capture one, it may become aggressive. Removing a squirrel from your home is no simple task, and it is best left to experts who are trained in humane removal techniques. These critters might not carry rabies, but they do have the potential to transmit other diseases to people and pets, primarily through their feces and urine. They also cause a lot of structural damage with their razor-sharp teeth.
The Professionals You Can Trust
At Skedaddle, we respect the role all wildlife serve in their natural environments. Squirrels have adapted to urban life, but they continue to contribute to the health of our ecosystem through seed dispersal and soil aeration. They also help plant new trees when they bury a nut and forget to go back and retrieve it! If you have a squirrel that has taken up residence in your house, contact the experts at Skedaddle for humane squirrel removal in Milwaukee.