We love feeding our backyard squirrels, but I still haven’t tried petting one or handfeeding them. My nephew asked me “do squirrels bite,” and it got me wondering about it. I know that a lot of people are taming them and keeping them as pets, but I thought I’d research if these critters bite and why.
Why Do Squirrels Bite?
Squirrels are NOT aggressive by nature and won’t attack humans. However, with so many predators, their defense mode is to bite if they are feeling threatened. It’s NOT unusual for tame pet squirrels to bite their owners.
They won’t bite extremely hard, and it’s their way of playing with you. It’s important to remember that a tame wild squirrel is still a wild squirrel.
It’s impossible to train them to stop biting. It’s a characteristic that they are born with.
Every wildlife animal will defend themselves if they are feeling threatened. This is why you should never corner or try to capture a wild animal.
Will Squirrels Attack Humans?
This wildlife rodent is very trusting, this is why they will eventually eat out of someone’s hand after they gain their trust, unlike most wildlife species. If a squirrel feels threatened, they will first remain motionless before they bite.
They will first try to run away in a haphazard fashion to the climb and get away by finding the nearest tree. They are very fast and these skittish habits are what contribute to how long they live, regardless of all the predators they have.
I couldn’t find any cases or known cases other than this video that shows a squirrel being let out of a box and chasing a human. However, it looked like it was someone’s pet who was chasing their owner.
Most squirrels will run away from humans. If you have a pet squirrel, they will bite you, but it’s playful biting, kind of like a puppy bites their owner.
From what I’ve read, the playful bites don’t hurt as bad as their claws when they jump on you. That being said, squirrels have powerful teeth and those cute nibbles can turn bad if they sink their teeth deep into you.
Do All Squirrels Bite?
Squirrels are part of the family Sciuridae, which consists of small to medium-sized rodents. There are over 200 species that can be found throughout the world, excluding Antarctica and Australia.
They are known to survive in all types of environments and it’s not unusual to see them thriving in metropolitan cities.
People, in general, have become fascinated with these bushy-tailed critters.
It’s NOT hard to find Instagram and YouTube videos of people raising them as pets. Other people may try befriending them to feed them by hand.
There are so many predators that want to kill or harm these critters. Today, we’re going to take a look at the three classifications of squirrels which include, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and the tree squirrel.
Tree squirrels get their common name due to the fact that they can be found in wooded and urban areas with trees. They build their nests, avoid predators, and harvest food in trees.
This classification of squirrels consists of gray squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, and pine squirrels.
Do Gray Squirrels Bite?
There is one of the popular types of squirrels people keep as pets. They are known to bite, only if they are feeling threatened.
Ground squirrels live in underground burrows where they sleep, raise their young and store food. There are over 30 species of the North American ground squirrels, and usually, be found in wooded areas.
While most people will never see a flying squirrel because they come out at night and are extremely shy. They build their nests in large hollow trees.
Their defense mechanism is to run from predators. They usually won’t bite or attack their predators.
It’s rare for any type of squirrel to bite or attack humans. However, if they are feeling threatened, it is not unusual to defend themselves.
What Do Squirrel Bite Marks Look Like?
Squirrels are known to eat pretty much anything they can get their paws on.
One of their behaviors is to chew and it’s NOT uncommon to find bite marks or chew marks in areas that they can be found.
This is why so many homeowners try to get rid of them from their property. Because they are known to cause damage with their teeth.
We were finding bite marks on our trees and other areas in our yard, this was one of the reasons that we started feeding them.
Since putting out squirrel feeders, we haven’t seen bite marks on our trees.
Yes, squirrels eat bark, read this article on Do Squirrels Eat Bark to find tips on how to protect your trees.
Chewing and gnawing things is just one of the common behaviors that they have due to living out in the wild.
These rodents are like other rodents and they have four large incisors.
Two on the bottom and two on the top that never stops growing. This is the reason that they are continually gnawing and chewing things.
They chew on things to help control the growth of their incisors. They have sharp incisors that can chew through plastic, metal, wires, plastic, and etc. If they can’t cut through something with their teeth, they will use their sharp claws to help them out.
If you’re raising one as a pet, you will need to provide them with things to chew. Unfortunately, it’s NOT a behavior that you can get rid of.
Do Squirrels Carry Rabies?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, small mammals such as gerbils, chipmunks, hamsters, rats, mice, and even squirrels are rarely ever infected with rabies.
It’s uncommon for them to infect a human with rabies. However, if the squirrel appears to be sick and attacked you, then you may want to contact your physician to ensure you take precautionary measures.
You can find out more information here regarding: Do squirrels have rabies.
How to Treat A Squirrel Bite?
You’ll probably never get attacked by a squirrel, but you can get bit if you’re raising one as a pet or you try to hand feed it. If you do get bit, you’ll want to follow these steps:
- Clean the wounded area. If it broke the skin and drew blood, you may want to get a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one within the past 10 years.
- Flush out the wound by placing it under some running water for at least one minute.
- Apply some antibiotic ointment to prevent any type of infection or swelling.
- Keep an eye on the wound to make sure that it doesn’t become infected.
- If it does, you will want to seek emergency medical treatment.
As I mentioned above, it’s rare for squirrels to carry rabies. However, if the wound is severe and requires stitches, you may want to contact a medical licensed healthcare professional about the possibility of rabies treatment.
Related Articles About Squirrel Facts You Will Want to Read
References and Further Reading
The Atlantic – When Squirrels Attack