There’s a growing danger in the world more volatile than car jackers, the flesh-eating virus and Donald Trump’s hair. It’s squirrels. These bushy-tailed little clowns may appear innocuous, scurrying around parks to bury nuts, but don’t let their apparently peaceful nature fool you. They’re not cute, and some are high on crack.
When British police organized a crackdown on drug use (yes, I did that on purpose), dealers started burying crack cocaine in gardens next to the street to dig up later. Squirrels beat them to it.
“My neighbour said dealers had used my garden to hide crack,” an unnamed Brixton resident told London’s The Sun newspaper in 2007. “Just an hour earlier I’d seen a squirrel digging in the flower beds. It was ill looking and its eyes looked bloodshot, but it kept on desperately digging. It seems a strange thing to say, but it seemed to know what it was looking for.”
There are around 200 species of squirrel, and they are found on every continent save Australia and Antarctica (although I wouldn’t put a secret ice base out of their reach). The smallest is the African pigmy squirrel that only grows up to thirteen centimetres long. The biggest is the Indian giant squirrel that can grow up to a meter long. A metre. The most common, the grey squirrel, can reach 50 centimetres plus 24 centimetres for the tail – and can run 20 miles per hour.
They can also be deadly.
Although squirrels are generally thought of as herbivores, these beasts are omnivores that kill and eat insects, snakes, and fellow mammals, which apparently includes dogs.
In 2005, a dray of black squirrels in a park in the Russian village of Lazo jumped onto a large barking dog and killed it, according to BBC News. A group of men tried to save the dog, but were too late.
“They literally gutted the dog,” Anastasia Trubitsina, a local journalist, reported. “When they saw the men, they scattered in different directions, taking pieces of their kill away with them.”
The movies have it wrong. The next dominant life form on Earth won’t be talking apes – it’ll be squirrels.
In 2016, Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. spoke out against the increasingly “aggressive squirrels”’ in his city during an October council meeting. Squirrels had caused $300,000 in damages to the city’s trash bin lids.
“We are spending too much money on replacing garbage carts because the squirrels continue to eat through ’em,” Brookins announced at the meeting, according to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Hard-hitting stuff, but not as hard hitting as an eastern grey squirrel on the Cal-Sag Trail.
Brookins biked on the trail Nov. 13 when a squirrel dove into the spokes of his bicycle, sending the alderman flying over the handlebars and crashing onto the trail. According to The Washington Post, the attack fractured Brookins’ skull, broke his nose and scattered six of his teeth along the pavement. He spent four days in hospital.
“I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” Brookins told the Chicago Tribune.
The lesson here? Squirrels, much like the Mob, are best left alone.
But Brookins isn’t the only human victim of these rodents.
In December 2015, Richard Williams, 78, of Novato, California, was working in his garage when a squirrel ran through the open door and attacked him.
“He jumped me three or four different times. When I got him off, he’d get back on,” Williams said to the Marin Independent Journal.
Although he defeated the grey squirrel in hand-to-hand combat, the little monster bit and scratched his right arm, leg and head.
He wasn’t the only Novato resident attacked by Sciurus griseus (its classification sounds like a “Star Wars” villain for a reason). Seven others, including children and a school teacher, were attacked by a squirrel jumping from trees and gnashing at them with its nasty pointy teeth.
“The fact is, we want people to stay calm,” Lisa Bloch, Marin Humane Society spokeswoman, said in the New York Daily News. “It’s probably just one squirrel.”
One squirrel? One squirrel? One is apparently enough.
One squirrel invaded a retirement community in Volusia County, Florida, in November, attacking four people and probably interrupting bingo.
“It’s jumping on people and biting them and scratching them, so we need help,” a worker at the retirement community said after calling 9-1-1, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
A worker eventually grabbed the squirrel and tossed it outside, although not before it made the entire human race question its future.
It’s the beginning of the Squirrelpocalypse, people. Watch the trees.