NEW YORK - The Singh family of Rego Park, Queens, shared a video of a squirrel gnawing on their mailbox and lunging at them to illustrate the ongoing ordeal they and their neighbors are dealing with.
"They have been randomly attacking people — attacking is anywhere from jumping onto them to scratching and biting aggressively," Vinati Singh said. "We don't know why it's happening."
The Singhs told FOX 5 NY that residents have had roughly 20 unprovoked run-ins with a few highly aggressive squirrels since Thanksgiving. The Forest Hills Patch first reported the squirrel attacks in the area.
Singh said that at first she and a neighbor laughed while watching home surveillance footage at what they thought was an isolated incident of a squirrel scampering up a delivery person's leg.
"As the attacks got more repeated, more aggressive and vicious, we realized this was the beginning that we were watching," Singh said.
At least two residents had to seek medical attention. One resident allegedly had a squirrel jump on her back and either claw or bite through four layers to break the skin, while Micheline Frederick said she eventually went to the emergency room to be treated for at least six bites. She was also vaccinated for rabies as a precaution.
"Next thing I know, it's an MMA cage match and I'm losing," Frederick said.
"My husband was attacked. He's an ex-Marine. He said he literally had to fight the squirrel," Singh said. "He felt that he was in a real fight — he wouldn't use those words lightly."
Residents are concerned because the neighborhood is home to a lot of elderly people and children. When being able to go outside has been a respite from the pandemic even in the colder months, many are keeping their children indoors. They told me that calls to the city, animal control, and the Health Department have gone nowhere.
Singh said that the city has shrugged her off every single time.
"The NYC Health Department received a complaint about an aggressive squirrel in Rego Park and advised the property owner to hire a New York State licensed trapper. We are actively working with residents to get more information about the bite events and coordinating with the trapper," a department spokesperson told FOX 5 NY. "Squirrels and many other small rodents are rarely found to be infected with rabies. If New Yorkers believe they have observed an animal infected with rabies, they should report it to 311. Any resident who has been bitten should contact their doctor and report it to the Department's Animal Bite Unit."
Rabies infection in squirrels and other small rodents is extremely rare, and they haven't been found to transmit the disease to humans, according to the CDC.
"Some of us in the community did get together to hire private trappers," Singh said, her daughter adding that the trappers cost $1,000. "Because whether the city deals with this or not, we have to deal with it for our own safety."
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