Eight people have been attacked by squirrels in Novato, California, over recent weeks, prompting experts to issue warnings to residents about the danger posed by wild animals.
The latest reported incident came the day after Thanksgiving, when 87-year-old Richard Williams was attacked in his garage, KPIX reported.
The squirrel managed to get in through an open door while Williams was doing some chores.
“He charged me and jumped, and from then on the battle started,” Williams told KPIX.
The creature then scratched Williams on the face.
“He was really vicious," Williams added. "He was clawing and scratching. I was trying to get him off. Every time I’d get him off, he’d jump back up again.”
Hearing sounds from the garage, Richard William's wife, Lorna Williams, came to his assistance.
“I grabbed the broom, picked it up,” she said. “I guess I hit the squirrel with it.”
“And then he jumped her,” Richard added. “I was able to grab him by the tail, threw him on the garage floor and he seemed stunned.”
Richard and Lorna were rushed to hospital, where they received several injections, including tetanus and rabies.
The incident came just a week after a squirrel, suspected of being the same one, got into an elementary school and injured a student and a teacher.
The attacks began Nov. 13, when a man was scratched on the head while working in his yard.
Authorities believe humans are to blame for the spate of attacks.
“This is the no. 1 reason why we discourage feeding wildlife at every level,” Andrew Hughan, public information officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the San Jose Mercury. “It’s illegal and it’s dangerous.”
“Wild animals cannot form emotional relationships with people,” he added.
Alison Hermance, communications manager at Wildcare Rehabilitation Center, also explained that feeding squirrels and other wildlife can make them more vulnerable to predators.
However, she reassured Novato residents that the recent incidents are isolated events.
“Squirrels are not dangerous in any shape or form,” she said, “unless you hand feed them, which you shouldn’t do.”
Flyers warning people not to feed squirrels have also been posted in Novato neighborhoods, according to KPIX.