You’re taking a walk down the street when suddenly you feel a set of beady eyes upon you. You try to ignore the feeling, but it won’t go away. Then you turn around, and your worst fears are confirmed. Something is stalking you. It’s a wild animal, and it won’t go away. What do you do?
A Panicked Phone Call
One Thursday, emergency workers in Karlsruhe, Germany, received a panicked phone call. A man reported that a wild animal was chasing him. It was very persistent, he said. He kept trying to shake it off, but it wouldn’t leave him alone. Understandably, the man was afraid.
Police to the Rescue
Police responded to the frightened call. And when they arrived, they did indeed find a chase in progress. But as it turned out, the terrifying creature was…a baby squirrel! The baby was an orphan. It spotted the man and decided he was, for whatever reason, its new squirrel mommy.
“It often happens that squirrels which have lost their mothers look for a replacement and then focus their efforts on one person,” Christina Krenz, a police spokeswoman, told The Guardian. She said that baby squirrels sometimes fixate on people and won’t leave them alone. “It can be pretty scary,” she said.
But right after the police arrived, “scary” turned to “adorable.” The baby squirrel, apparently exhausted by its pursuit, suddenly stopped and fell soundly asleep.
What Happened Then
Police scooped up the baby and took it back to the station. There they named it Karl-Friedrich and declared it their mascot. Then they took the baby to a wildlife rescue organization. The rescue was looking after two other orphaned squirrels of about the same age. Those babies, too, had attempted to convince humans to be their new mothers. However, Karl-Friedrich was the only one of the three to be apprehended by the police.
Should We be Afraid of Squirrels?
Wild mammals can carry any number of diseases that affect humans. Rabies is probably the most frightening. Fortunately, squirrels rarely contract rabies. And when they do, it’s even rarer for them to pass it on to humans. There are, however, other diseases that squirrels can pass on to people. These include leptospirosis, salmonella, and Lyme disease.
Squirrels rarely attack people. Even if they get it in their fuzzy little heads to take on a human, the attacks are never fatal. However, the little critters do get into it with people from time to time. And they have some nasty teeth and claws. So, as cute as they may seem, squirrels are still wild animals. It’s best to admire them from afar.
What to Do if You Find an Orphaned Squirrel
Look at that face! As humans, we’re hard-wired to want to rush to the rescue of baby animals, especially fluffy ones. But one mistake well-meaning humans make is to try to rescue animals that don’t need to be rescued.
First, try to determine if the squirrel is orphaned. If it’s following you and won’t leave you alone, that’s a good clue. Otherwise, this flowchart can help you to make that determination and decide what to do.
If the animal is orphaned or injured, take it to a veterinarian or a wildlife rescue center as quickly as possible. But make sure to keep yourself safe. Wild animals can bite and scratch when they’re frightened or hurt. And bites and scratches can transfer disease. Wear gloves or use a towel or other barrier to pick up the animal. If you have a box or other container to transport it safely, then use it.
We think you’ll agree that this baby squirrel is the world’s cutest stalker. And remember — squirrels are nothing to be afraid of…unless you’re Veruca Salt!