Although very cautious and preferring to avoid contact with people, squirrels can in some instances be aggressive little monsters too. They will defend themselves if threatened, but it appears that some can get a little bolder, and potentially aggressive, when searching for food from humans.
After all, we are living ever closer to them as their natural habitats are often encroached upon by urban expansion. Several animal control websites suggest that, as we happily feed them, they increasingly expect food from us – and if they don’t get what they want, they might lose their temper.
Individual cases, however, are difficult to directly link to this notion. Back in 2016, for example, a squirrel infiltrated a retirement home in Florida before going on a “rampage” that ultimately led to three people requiring medical attention. It wasn’t clear at all why this took place.
A rather remarkable article in The Atlantic, entitled “When Squirrels Attack”, gives a great account of squirrel attacks throughout recent American history. One 1921 New York Times report tells the tale of a squirrel that attacked some schoolchildren; when a deterrent in the form of a thrown bottle of milk failed to work, the rodent’s life was “ended with a bullet.”
There’s little to fear, though. Squirrel attacks do sound unnerving, but they are pretty rare. Besides, attacks – which involve bites, scratches, and sometimes a bit of parkour – aren’t fatal nor are they likely to transmit rabies, so they are seen as curiosities of urban living more than anything else by authorities.
Just be thankful you aren’t a squirrel yourself: they have been observed on several occasions engaging in both infanticide and cannibalism, proving that the cute and fluffy image hides a fairly monstrous core.