For every heartwarming story about a squirrel - like this cuddly kitten wanna-be, this endearing little guy who bumped his head, or this comedian that popped up in a vacation photo - there are plenty of fear-inspiring stories about squirrel hoodlums guilty of the following crimes:
- Arson: Two years ago, a squirrel in Redding, California, U.S.A., shorted out a high-voltage power line, caught fire, and dropped into dry vegetation, sparking a blaze that took 18 firefighters and 6 fire engines to bring under control.
- Home invasion: This spring, a gang of squirrels began taking over a housing complex in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.A. One of the terrified victims describes, "I've been, oh my gosh. I've been crying. I've been so upset since they started. They are taking over my bedroom." Also this spring, in Strongsville, Ohio, U.S.A., a family was held at bay in their own home by a squirrel that was jumping at the garage door and threatening them when they attempted to exit the house.
- Vandalism: Squirrels in in Swindon, Wiltshire, U.K., are chewing through car brake cables and home telephone wires, prompting action on the part of animal welfare experts, who warn against vigilantism, "It is important however that members of the public do not try to catch the squirrels and take the law into their own hands." In April of this year, a squirrel that entered a power station in Grand Blanc, Michigan, U.S.A., knocked out electrical service to 2,800 of its customers. A few weeks later in Destin, Florida, U.S.A., a lone squirrel threw itself onto a power line, causing a widespread outage that affected homes, businesses, and traffic lights in the area.
- Assault: In Spring 2009, a member of the faculty giving a tour of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, U.S.A., was attacked by the mother of a baby squirrel she tried to help. Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools, said the teacher fell while running back to the bus to get away from the angry squirrel. The animal bit or scratched her ankle, but the teacher was able to get up and escape. This summer in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, U.K., a squirrel (pictured) became aggressive when the bird seed ran low in the feeder it was plundering. The homeowner describes, "As I approached, the squirrel froze and just stared at me. I got a little closer and that's when he lunged at me....His claws were out and he tried to scratch me." In an undated account of an encounter while on his motorcycle, author Daniel Meyer writes, "Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet....His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt!....[H]e flew over the windshield and impacted me squarely in the chest. Instantly he set upon me. If I did not know better I would have sworn he brought twenty of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity....Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves puttering maybe 25mph down a quiet residential street…and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing." In June 2003, a squirrel in Passau, Germany, terrorized 3 residents - a 70-year-old woman who was attacked from behind in her own home and ran out into the street with the animal hanging from her hand, a construction worker who was injured on the hand and arm before he could fight the squirrel off, and a 72-year-old man who received massive wounds on his arms, hand, and thigh before dispatching the attacker with his crutch.