For most people, squirrels are cute, sweet, and funny. However, it’s not unlikely for these furry critters hooked on nuts to have a dark side. After all, even though they look and act adorable, squirrels are still wild animals just like rats, snakes, bats, raccoons, and coyotes. But are sure that it’s safe to approach them?
Squirrels are not dangerous as they rarely bite humans. However, squirrels can pass diseases and parasites to humans and pets. Squirrels can damage homes and cause losses, which is what makes them a nuisance. For instance, 20% of US fires are due to squirrels gnawing on electrical wires.
There is nothing wrong with putting out food for squirrels on your property.
But since they will do anything and everything to protect themselves or their babies, it’s not a good idea to try to approach and touch them.
Read on to know some of the things that make squirrels a threat to you and your property, too.
Do Squirrels Bite?
Squirrels bite humans. However, it is rare for them to do so. Most of the time, squirrels will run away when people approach them, except if they reckon that they will be given food. If they feel threatened or think that their babies are at risk, squirrels won’t hesitate to attack and bite humans.
It’s true that squirrels are some of the most adorable- and sweet-looking creatures on the face of the planet. But as always, you should not judge a book by its cover.
Because squirrels are wild animals that can get stirred if they feel they are in some form of danger, they may bite you if you are the cause of their anxiety.
Especially if you are trying to trap or catch a squirrel, it is very much likely for you to end up with a wound — the teeth of squirrels are sharp enough to pierce your skin and draw blood.
There are a few things that could happen if a squirrel bites you:
- The wound will heal in no time if it’s just superficial and you have a strong immune system.
- You may be prescribed antibiotics because the wound got infected.
- The wound may be stitched because it is gaping, which can keep it from healing well.
- You may be given an anti-rabies shot because of the possibility that the squirrel that bit you is rabid.
Speaking of a rabid squirrel, the chance of you being bitten by a squirrel with rabies is very slim.
But if a squirrel bites you without being provoked or scared, it’s possible for it to be rabid.
Do Squirrels Carry Diseases?
Squirrels carry an assortment of diseases. However, only some of them are dangerous to humans. Squirrels can spread diseases through their bites or any form of direct contact with them. They can also spread them through their feces and urine. Squirrels may spread parasites on their bodies, too.
Besides getting rabies from a squirrel bite, which is very rare, you may also get other diseases from squirrels.
This is true whether or not they bite you. A handful of the diseases that you can get from them can be quite serious.
Some of those that you may get from squirrels are typhoid fever, tularemia and plague. They can be fatal if they are not detected and treated right away.
Since many of the symptoms of these diseases resemble the symptoms of the flu, they can be dismissed as something that will go away until it’s too late.
You don’t have to be bitten by squirrels to have your health placed in danger. For instance, exposure to their poop and pee may put you at risk of salmonellosis or leptospirosis.
Squirrels may also bring with them an assortment of parasites if they invade your home.
Do Squirrels Contaminate Food?
Squirrels contaminate food when they invade homes due to hunger. They love just about anything in the kitchen because these rodents are both herbivorous and carnivorous. Squirrels also eat pantry foods. Their long and sharp teeth enable them to open all kinds of food packaging without much trouble.
It’s no secret that squirrels are nuts for nuts.
However, squirrels love many other types of food, too, including most especially those that you put in your mouth every mealtime or snack time.
There are a few problems that may arise when squirrels invade the pantry and feast on its contents:
- The shelf life of food products will shorten considerably due to exposure to the elements.
- Other common household pests will find it easier to have access to pantry foods.
- Foods may become contaminated with squirrel hair, poop, and pee and the parasites they carry.
If it seems like it’s trouble-free for squirrels to feast on your stored food items, there is a simple (albeit not free of charge) solution: transfer foods from their original packaging to airtight glass containers.
Airtight plastic containers may be used, too. However, make sure that they are out of the thickest type of plastic that you can find to keep their contents off-limits to squirrels.
Did you know that the teeth of squirrels are strong and sharp enough to pierce sheet aluminum?
Unfortunately, storing pantry foods in squirrel-proof airtight containers is not enough to stop squirrels from contaminating food before they are served on the table for you to enjoy.
It is also a definite must to repair or seal off holes and cracks that can provide squirrels entry to the pantry. Otherwise, squirrels will keep on getting in and out of the pantry.
It’s true that squirrels will fail to snack on foods in airtight glass or plastic containers. However, they may use your pantry to gain easy access to the kitchen and the rest of your home.
Do Squirrels Attack Kids?
Squirrels attack kids if they feel threatened. They will do the same if they think that their babies are in danger. When squirrels attack, they may bite or scratch children. Sometimes, it may seem like squirrels are attacking kids. However, squirrels may just be happy thinking that kids have food.
Earlier, it was mentioned that it’s rare for squirrels to attack and bite humans.
However, these beady-eyed creatures won’t hesitate to turn from cute to ferocious when they feel threatened or want to protect their young.
It’s because of this why you should fight off any urge to approach, touch, or cuddle a squirrel or a baby squirrel.
Sadly, kids may fail to steer clear of squirrels the minute they lay eyes on their cute little noses or big bushy tails. And because little children tend to move clumsily, squirrels may easily mistake them for predators.
There are many reports of squirrels attacking kids. Some kids end up with wounds due to squirrel bites or scratches.
Some squirrels may associate kids with food since they are accustomed to being fed by humans. Due to this, they may approach youngsters aggressively, making it seem like they are attacking or chasing after them.
If you have kids, it’s a wonderful idea to teach them to be kind to animals.
However, it’s also important to teach them how to identify warning signs that it’s a much better idea to leave animals alone, including especially wild animals such as squirrels.
Tell your kids to stay away from a squirrel if they see it doing any of the following:
- Making a guttural growl.
- Chattering its teeth.
- Stomping its feet.
- Twitching or flicking its fluffy tail.
It’s always cute to see photos and videos of squirrels eating from human hands. However, for the sake of staying safe, discourage your little ones from attempting to give it a try.
Do Squirrels Attack Pets?
Squirrels attack pets. Because of the size and behavior of cats and dogs, squirrels see them as a threat and feel that they are in grave danger. Most of the time, squirrels will run away and hide. However, they won’t hesitate to attack and fight back if there is no time or means for them to escape.
Because of the size and appearance of squirrels, house pets find them extremely interesting. This is why it is very much likely for your cat or dog to approach one as soon as it comes across it.
Most of the time, the reactions of squirrels in the presence of danger can make them even more interesting in the inquisitive eyes of cats and dogs.
It’s due to this why your pet may try to approach and catch a squirrel on your property. Sometimes your pet may see a squirrel as a plaything, while other times, it may see it as food.
It’s a vicious cycle — pets find squirrels interesting, squirrels try to escape, pets find them more attractive, squirrels try to escape even more!
There are instances in which squirrels will fight back instead of run to safety when threatened by cats or dogs. It’s almost always that larger animals will end up victorious.
However, squirrels will put up a fight even though they know that the chance of them winning is slim to none. In the process, they may bite or scratch cats and dogs.
The wounds incurred by your pet during a brawl with a squirrel may wind up infected. And if the squirrel involved in the fight is rabid, your cat or dog may end up getting the rabies virus from it through a bite.
In some cases, squirrels may attack cats and dogs that are doing absolutely nothing threatening.
It doesn’t really come as a shock because squirrels are wild animals despite looking all cute and cuddly. And just like other wild animals out there, squirrels are unpredictable and can get aggressive at any given time.
If you have a cat or dog and don’t want to risk it, keep them inside your home.
Do Squirrels Damage Properties?
Squirrels damage properties. After all, they are rodents just like rats and mice, both of which are common household pests notorious for causing damage to homes. Squirrels can cause various types of damage to properties. They may cause increased heating and cooling costs, water leaks and even fires.
Many homeowners don’t like having squirrels on their property. That’s because these gnawing critters can cause damage to their lawn and garden by digging a lot. Squirrels love nibbling on fruit and vegetable plants, too.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the area around the home that squirrels may destroy. Squirrels may also get indoors and cause structural damage.
They don’t find it difficult to get inside your home as they can easily squeeze through small holes and tight gaps. Once inside your home, squirrels can cause an assortment of problems, many of which are serious.
Here are some of the things that squirrels can do to you and your property:
Shred your home’s insulation
Your home helps protect you from the elements. To make sure that you stay cool during the hottest months of the year, the installation of insulation is a must. It also helps protect you from low temperatures during the wintertime.
Having squirrels in your home can keep you from feeling comfortable. That’s because they like chewing on insulation.
Once your home’s insulation is damaged, you may find both summer and winter disagreeable. On the other hand, squirrels in your home are having a wonderful time sleeping in your attic.
The problem with having damaged insulation due to a squirrel infestation is that it can also affect your pocket — ineffective home insulation can wreak havoc on your monthly expenses.
Heavy reliance on the HVAC system when it’s too hot or too cold consumes a lot of electricity. When the electric bill arrives, you will realize this fact.
But the need to shell out more money than necessary does not begin and end there. Getting insulation damaged by squirrels repaired or replaced isn’t free.
Cause water leaks and floods
Squirrels have teeth that never stop growing. To keep them from growing too long and piercing the opposite jaw, squirrels have to gnaw on all sorts of things. This will wear down their teeth as well as keep them sharp.
Because they have strong and sharp teeth, squirrels do not have trouble cracking open nuts.
Similarly, they find it easy to chew on just about anything tough, ranging from tree barks to thin sheets of aluminum.
Squirrels can also gnaw on PVC pipes, which is one of the reasons why these rodents can wreak havoc on your indoor living.
Once your home’s PVC pipes are compromised, you can rest assured that you will encounter leaks and floods. This can cause damage to your many belongings, particularly non-waterproof ones such as books and photographs.
Needless to say, to keep your belongings and home from serious damage, you will have to allow professional plumbers to spring into action, which isn’t cost-free.
Failure to deal with water leaks and floods right away can result in more damage to your possessions and property. It can also lead to pricier repairs and replacements.
The problem with water leaks and floods due to PVC pipe damage caused by squirrels is that it can encourage mold formation, too.
If you have asthma or allergy or someone you love is suffering from it, having mold around is a complete no-no. Mold spores can circulate in the indoor air, and this can cause frequent flare-ups.
And by the way, mold can also make your home smell unpleasant.
Besides mold, many common household pests may invade your home, too. Some critters that thrive so much better in damp places include cockroaches, centipedes, earwigs and silverfish.
Increased risk of your home burning down
Above, it was mentioned that squirrels need to gnaw on things constantly to keep their teeth from growing too long. They do it to keep their teeth sharp, too.
Inside your home, squirrels may find it enticing to nibble on electrical wires. This is a very serious matter because chewed on electrical wires are a fire hazard!
So, in other words, having squirrels around can increase the risk of your home burning to the ground.
As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 20% of house fires in the US are caused by squirrels gnawing on electrical wires.
And even if electrical wires damaged by squirrels fail to start a fire, they can still endanger the lives of the ones you care about.
Little children and pets, all of which are naturally curious beings, are the ones in peril.
Just Before You Attempt to Pet a Squirrel
Especially if you are a certified animal lover, it’s not unlikely for you to find squirrels to be filled with cuteness. You may also find their acrobatics amazing and their antics hilarious.
Unfortunately, it’s not all the time that squirrels will find your admiration of them flattering. If they feel threatened, they may attack and bite and scratch you.
Squirrels rarely bite humans, which is why they are not as a danger to you as other wild animals that could pay your home a visit or run into you in the great outdoors.
However, squirrels can cause considerable damage to your property. This is especially true if they are hungry or looking for a warm and cozy place to claim as their home.
Because squirrels love to gnaw on things, there is a risk of water leaks and floods when they chew on PVC pipes and fires when they chomp on electrical wires.
Squirrels may also spread certain diseases and introduce parasites into your home.
Photo credit: ©canva.com
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