Ottawa

An aggressive squirrel has been taking a bite out of this eastern Ontario town

There's chitter-chatter in Carleton Place, Ont., about an aggressive squirrel running at residents and, occasionally, taking a nip.

Residents in Carleton Place, Ont., say they've been nipped by the fearless rodent

Aggressive squirrel startles residents of Carleton Place, Ont.

5 months ago
Duration 2:16
Jeff Samler, who lives in Carleton Place, says he was attacked by a determined squirrel last fall, though the critter’s reign of terror may have continued into this year.

There's chitter-chatter in Carleton Place, Ont., about an aggressive squirrel running up at residents — and occasionally taking a nip.

Jeff Samler is one of several residents in the town who've reported a close encounter with the rodent he's come to call "Short Tail."

His incident occurred late last fall, but recent social media posts suggest the bushy-tailed rodent is still causing concern in the community near Ottawa.

Samler said he first mistook the squirrel for his dog's tail brushing his leg. The rest of the incident, which happened last fall, was caught on his driveway security camera.

"He just ran up my leg, ran around my head. I tried to get him off my head," Samler said. "He bit me through my glove. It drew a little bit of blood, but not like I needed stitches or anything like that."

Jeff Samler says this squirrel, nicknamed 'Short Tail,' ran up his leg, around his head and bit his hand. While the incident occurred last fall, Samler pointed out the squirrel during an interview this week with CBC Ottawa. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

After getting the bite checked at the Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital, Samler said he was surprised to learn other people had similar experiences.

"It's strong word to use, 'attacked,'" Samler said. "It was just weird. Most squirrels see a human, they just take off. Not this guy."

The hospital declined to comment.

Nine-year-old Lukas Hamilton, who lives down the street from Samler, said he also had a close call in his backyard around the same time.

"He jumped up on me and tried to go into my glove … but I blocked him off and threw him off," Hamilton said.

"But he came back up and I knocked him off … and I ran away."

Nine-year-old Lukas Hamilton says he had a close-encounter with the aggressive squirrel on his street, but was able to brush it away before being bit. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Reminder not to feed wild animals

The squirrel has most likely gotten used to humans feeding it, according to Michael Runtz, a natural history lecturer at Carleton University in Ottawa.

"It sounds like a super aggressive squirrel that demands food. And if you don't feed it, it'll bite you," he said.

Runtz said it's unlikely the animal has rabies, based on the behaviour in the video and the fact it's apparently been biting people for months. 

But he can't rule out the slim possibility.

"This sort of thing is so rare. With animals, you always get a variation in behaviours, and you get some that are more aggressive," he said. "And this guy is right on the upper scale of being more aggressive."

WATCH | The expert take on the squirrel:

What to do when squirrels get too friendly: Advice from a natural history professor

5 months ago
Duration 1:23
Michael Runtz, a natural history lecturer at Carleton University, says the squirrel in question has likely gotten too used to human contact and should be moved to a more natural location outside town.

The best course of action, Runtz said, may be to live-trap the squirrel and release it in a wooded area far away from town, especially as it now has the opportunity to feed on spring buds.

If not, residents might consider spraying the squirrel with water when it approaches, he said.

"I don't think I want to meet that squirrel in my neighbourhood," Runtz said.

For months, Carleton Place has been menaced by a particularly vicious squirrel. While the behaviour is unusual, Carleton University biology lecturer Michael Runtz thinks he might know why it's so eager to bite. He shares his theory with Stu Mills.

The Town of Carleton Place said in an email it hasn't received any complaints about squirrel bites through its bylaw office.

The local animal control department responds to calls involving domestic animals, the town said. Carleton Place's animal control bylaw does say the area around bird feeders should be maintained to avoid attracting wild animals.

The town said it wouldn't become involved if residents hired a licensed wildlife trapper or pest control expert, depending on which service is appropriate.

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