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Thread: Question regarding squirrels biting

  1. #1
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    Red face Question regarding squirrels biting

    Hey guys, I'm fairly new to this forum but my passion for squirrels goes a long way. I live near a nature park populated by a ton of squirrels so I tend to go there and feed the squirrels whenever I get the chance with fruits and other things that I know they will like. Moreover, the squirrels in this park are used to us humans because a lot of people will drop-by and feed the squirrels. This means that the squirrels will approach us if called upon and are not as scared.

    Recently I had an experience with a squirrel biting my finger. It happened on the 14th of January. I was walking with my significant other and I spotted a squirrel on a tree just holding onto it and not doing anything. I decided to stop and look at it before calling it to me. It didn't react at first but after a few seconds of trying it slowly approached me. I told my partner that I felt bad because I didn't have food to feed it but that I would still try and pet it (dumb idea I know but I've done it in the past with campus squirrels). It approached me (without stumbling over and was very well coordinated) and I had my hand out. It grabbed my index finger and proceeded to bite me. It drew blood and I let out a grunt of pain because it hurt like hell. The squirrel must have ran off because it didn't stay around or attack me further. But I can't confirm if it ran off because I was focused on the wound. It probably did because the poor thing must have been scared when I grunted and pulled away.

    I cleaned the wound and put on a bandage and the ER doctor told me to head home because there was little risk of rabies. I will admit that I am a bit anxious but that's just my nature and I had flu symptoms but I was sick before meeting this squirrel and I get the occasional pain near the site of the wound. I got my tetanus shot as well so I'm good in that department. The squirrel didn't exhibit any odd behaviors and I probably wouldn't have been bit if it wasn't for my own desire to pet it.

    My question is the following: What made this squirrel bite me? I read in some other threads that squirrels don't see as well up close. Did it think my finger was food despite me not having food in my hand? Thanks in advance. This thread will help me be more prepared next time when I approach squirrels in this park.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question regarding squirrels biting

    Hi! My guess is exactly what you already thought. If they're used to being fed, it probably thought you had food in your outstretched hand, and when it moved in to take it, it literally could not see what was in front of its nose. Even if it couldn't smell any food there, it probably expected something, and was likely as surprised as you were to bite on a finger. I had one of my tamer wilds do that to me once, total accident. She was reaching for something I had in my fingers, missed but got my finger instead. I was lucky she didn't bite down too hard before realizing her mistake and releasing me.

    I don't hand feed my wilds anymore. I put the treat on my bent arm near my elbow. The braver ones in time learn to come and take it from my arm. Bigger target, they can't fit it in their mouth to bite it by accident. It takes longer for them to trust enough to get that close, but a few have over time. I don't know if yours ever will if they're used to everyone feeding them from outstretched fingertips. I'm the only one who interacts with my squirrels so they "learn" me. The boldest one knows where the almond pocket is and just jumps on me and climbs around and helps herself if my hands are full or I'm too busy to get a couple out for her. (The same one who bit me accidentally.)

    The other possibility is that it didn't want you to pet it, but from your description it sounds like you stayed still and it was entirely up to the squirrel how close it got. If you started to reach out to pet it at that moment it may have felt threatened, especially if you were coming over its head or back like a predator, so it could have been a "Don't!" bite, but I'm thinking it was just a mistake thinking you had food.


    And yes, even though squirrels can get rabies, they are not a rabies vector species (meaning they rarely get it and pass it on), so the doc was right.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Question regarding squirrels biting

    I feed my wilds but mostly by just dropping some food for them. The squirrels I have rescued/released will take treats from my hand. But for a random, friendly squirrel, I would recommend not putting your finger in front of a squirrel. They can't see what is right in front if them so you could chomped.

    The main concern with squirrel bites (besides the fact that it HURTS) is an infection. You have a tetanus shot, so just keep the injury clean and dry. While in theory squirrels can get rabies, they are not known to transmit this to humans, it has virtually never happened. So, your doc and the health department will not recommend rabies shots. Also, nothing about this squirrel's behavior raises any red flags. Bold squirrels in parks is extremely common.




    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone544 View Post
    Hey guys, I'm fairly new to this forum but my passion for squirrels goes a long way. I live near a nature park populated by a ton of squirrels so I tend to go there and feed the squirrels whenever I get the chance with fruits and other things that I know they will like. Moreover, the squirrels in this park are used to us humans because a lot of people will drop-by and feed the squirrels. This means that the squirrels will approach us if called upon and are not as scared.

    Recently I had an experience with a squirrel biting my finger. It happened on the 14th of January. I was walking with my significant other and I spotted a squirrel on a tree just holding onto it and not doing anything. I decided to stop and look at it before calling it to me. It didn't react at first but after a few seconds of trying it slowly approached me. I told my partner that I felt bad because I didn't have food to feed it but that I would still try and pet it (dumb idea I know but I've done it in the past with campus squirrels). It approached me (without stumbling over and was very well coordinated) and I had my hand out. It grabbed my index finger and proceeded to bite me. It drew blood and I let out a grunt of pain because it hurt like hell. The squirrel must have ran off because it didn't stay around or attack me further. But I can't confirm if it ran off because I was focused on the wound. It probably did because the poor thing must have been scared when I grunted and pulled away.

    I cleaned the wound and put on a bandage and the ER doctor told me to head home because there was little risk of rabies. I will admit that I am a bit anxious but that's just my nature and I had flu symptoms but I was sick before meeting this squirrel and I get the occasional pain near the site of the wound. I got my tetanus shot as well so I'm good in that department. The squirrel didn't exhibit any odd behaviors and I probably wouldn't have been bit if it wasn't for my own desire to pet it.

    My question is the following: What made this squirrel bite me? I read in some other threads that squirrels don't see as well up close. Did it think my finger was food despite me not having food in my hand? Thanks in advance. This thread will help me be more prepared next time when I approach squirrels in this park.
    See my wild squirrel adventures in the thread "Squirtle's yard!":
    https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...quirtle-s-Yard!

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Question regarding squirrels biting

    Thanks for the replies. I really appreciate it.

    I was definitely a bit worried about catching rabies because I've never had a squirrel bite me before. But seeing that this little fellow was cautious in his approach and probably thought I had food, I am not too worried. Still the anxiety does flare up from time to time during the day but I still appreciate your guys's replies and it has definitely calmed me down a lot.

    I still have a follow up appointment with my family doctor in order to ask him if i could get the prevention vaccine because I work at a job where I can potentially get bit by rabid animals if I'm not careful.

  7. 2 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to Hambone544:

    RockyPops (01-20-2022), TubeDriver (01-20-2022)

  8. #5
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    Default Re: Question regarding squirrels biting

    Like the others here said, chances are the squirrel mistakenly took your finger for food.
    I don't hand feed anymore unless I really really know the squirrel...I hate getting bit...however I have been bitten more times than I can recall, it hurts but no worry of rabies there has never been a known case.
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