Since late November, a violently aggressive squirrel has left some Queens residents afraid to leave their homes.
“The squirrel didn’t care, it just wanted something — it wanted blood,” 56-year-old Rego Park resident Micheline Frederick told the New York Post on Wednesday. “For a few days afterwards I would come out with a shovel, just in case, looking around.” Frederick compares her encounter with the bush-tailed predator to “an MMA cage match” — one that she was losing. “It just basically runs up my leg and I’m like, ‘OK squirrel, hello — what are you doing?’”
Frederick sustained eight bites and numerous scratches, including at least one on her neck. She warned neighbor Licia Wang, but Wang was still attacked. “I tried to shake it off but I can’t, you know — because squirrels have claws, cling onto your winter jacket. There’s no way you can shake it off,” Wang told ABC 7.
“[I’m] worried for the children. That’s what most people are concerned about — it’s the kids,” Frederick added. Local families seem to be taking the matter seriously, despite the seemingly ludicrous threat of a rogue squirrel represents. “When we leave the house, we have to carry mom’s homemade pepper spray to make sure, if It comes at us, then we spray it,” squirrel attack witness, teen Anika Singh Sood, said through her laughter.
Her mom may have been less amused. She believes the attacks were perpetrated by three squirrels, rather than just a single rodent psychopath. “I don’t know how many — but I would peg it at at least three,” Vinata Singh said, DIY “pepper spray” in hand. “The first time my husband was attacked, the reason he noticed was because [the squirrel] was gnawing on here aggressively,” she explained, pointing out her chewed up front porch chair.
Queens’ residents have pleaded for help from the local government, but were told to hire a licensed trapper to deal with the issue. The community did so, but so far nothing has come of it. “The NYC Health Department received a complaint about an aggressive squirrel in Rego Park and advised the property owner to hire a New York State licensed trapper,” the city’s Department of Health said in a statement. “Squirrels and many other small rodents are rarely found to be infected with rabies. If New Yorkers believe they have observed an animal infected with rabies, they should report it to 311.”
— Supriya Sahu IAS (@supriyasahuias) April 8, 2020
An unidentified representative for one of the city’s agencies told Singh that the violence may be a symptom of desperate starvation from city-born rodents who don’t know how to forage. It is not a problem unique to Queens, or even to New York City. Rival gangs of monkeys have been plaguing Thailand through most of 2020, and pigeon populations are in a nosedive for the lack of charitable pedestrians.