Just as we are about to put 2020 behind us, reports of overly aggressive squirrels — yes, squirrels — are here to remind us that the year’s not quite over yet.
In one Queens neighborhood, residents are apparently afraid to step outside for fear they will be attacked by the angry tree rodents. The attacks have been happening in Rego Park, on 65th Drive near Fitchett Street where at least five people have been reported being assaulted by squirrels since late November. ABC 7 spoke to several of the victims of these incidents, who reported the assailants being either a single squirrel or a pack of them working together. The residents are supposedly so scared for their safety that some of them have taken to carrying pepper spray when they leave their homes.
"It just basically runs up my leg and I'm like OK squirrel, hello, what are you doing," Micheline Frederick told the news crew. "He either bit or scratched me on my neck and then I must have reached over and next thing I know, it's a cage match and I'm losing." In the loss to her pint-sized opponent, Federick said her hands were bloody and bruised and she went to the hospital to get a rabies shot as a precautionary measure. Photos confirm her injuries.
Frederick, who was attacked on December 21, warned her neighbor, Licia Wang, to look out for the aggressive squirrel. But the warning didn’t help; Wang was also ambushed by a critter. "I tried to shake it off but I couldn't, squirrels have claws, cling onto your winter jacket, there's no way to shake it off," Wang told ABC 7.
Another neighbor, Vinati Singh, described the squirrel as “so fast” and said it hung onto her screen door with its claws. Video shows the squirrel leaping from the screen towards the window where Singh was filming the critter, appearing to be lunging for her face.
The city suggested the neighbors hire their own licensed trapper, which they did. However, squirrels have eluded the traps. As for what is agitating the animals, some experts have theorized that the people might be feeding the squirrels, but the neighborhood residents say that’s not the case. They’ve simply been going about their daily lives and the squirrels have been attacking unprovoked.
Of course agitated squirrel attacks come at the end of a year that brought us a worldwide pandemic, but also more outlandish threats like murder hornets, sinkholes full of rats, and a monkey in India stealing COVID samples. Let's hope 2021 brings a little less excitement, or maybe by then the aliens will just accept us in their warm embrace.