Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I had been thinking about the little mother squirrel and that she didn't know it yet, but she had become my pet.

She knew. As soon as I got there she materialized like magic on the bench, before any of the other squirrels.

The sun is too hot on the bench, so I suggest going over to the flagpole, where I can sit in the shade and she in the shadows.

I hand-feed her all sorts of treats, including a little bit of chocolate. She knows she's special. I like to think she's looking better than when we first met a few weeks ago.

Not to be overlooked, my longtime pet Red comes by, acting shy. Red gets fed too. Red isn't so "red" any more. Her other name "Brownie" seems more suitable now. She's changing, but she is still a very beautiful squirrel. She's been well cared for by a girl named Mya who buys nuts with her allowance, and feeds her after school.

There's an open bag full of peanuts by my feet, which the other squirrels soon discover and are happy to raid while I pay attention to my pets.

All of a sudden I'm being attacked from behind! a squirrel has snuck up behind my back and bitten my finger! I'm in shock. I've never been bitten by a squirrel before, and this one bites down hard. And it doesn't feel haphazard, as if the squirrel  had mistaken my finger for a peanut. It feels like a deliberate, straight-on surprise attack.

I kick menacingly at the squirrel and it slinks off into the shadows.
the culprit

Meanwhile I'm dripping with blood!

My little pet looks disconcerted.  And to her eternal credit, Lady Squirrel roars out from her seat beneath the cart and lunges at the offender, chasing him a good distance away! That surprises me, and almost makes up for the shock of  the attack. They know!

Evil Squirrel removes himself from the area, but takes up a position not too far away. where he sits and stares at me in a way that gives me the willies. Is he contemplating a kamikaze attack?  To placate him I decide to throw him a nut. Just to keep everybody happy.
ready for action?
Who is this squirrel? I've never seen him before. He is not too attractive. The fur on the tip of his tail is missing, and when he moves I think I see a flash of purple on his underside, which could mean he'd been fighting earlier. This squirrel had obviously tangled with others before me.

broken tail
I end up feeling sorry for him and start throwing peanuts at him. I wonder why this happened, because I had not been feeding or provoking this animal. But I had made myself vulnerable by sitting on the cement base of the flagpole, which allowed access from behind at my level. Normally a squirrel has no way to sneak up on you from behind. I mean sure, a squirrel can always jump up on you from anywhere, but what are the chances of that happening? Not likely, unless you run into Squiggy (or rather, Squiggy runs into you!)

I'll think twice before sitting there again. However, most squirrels are polite and somewhat fearful, so it never occurred to me that I'd be attacked like that. I had seen some aggressive behavior among some of the big grays in this area before. There are "street squirrels" around here that grew up tough. So different from the sweet tricks of Alphie, or the shyness of Red, or the adorable antics of Squiggy.

I'm also wondering if jealousy could have been the motivation, spurred by the attention and treats I'd been showering on the other squirrel. I'm not ruling out a just plain ornery disposition either.

postscript: once the bleeding had stopped and I got home and washed my finger (and doused it with hydrogen peroxide) it didn't look so bad -- no swelling or redness that would indicate infection.  So no harm done and maybe I even got lucky -- maybe the squirrel could have taken off my finger!  We should also note that squirrels in New York City have been given a clean bill of health: they do not carry rabies or other diseases that could be transmitted to humans. There was no need to go to the ER

Anyway, I can no longer say that I've never been bitten by a squirrel!

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