People often think about feeding squirrels by picking them from the yard, but it can cause more damage than benefit, as they behave aggressively when held by humans.
Is It Safe To Pick Up a Squirrel? It is not safe to pick up squirrels because they behave aggressively, become frightened or stressed, cause diseases, and carry pests. Take some precautions if you want to pick or touch them, such as wearing thick protective gloves to prevent bites and scratches.
Squirrels are cute and funny little rodents that are fascinating to observe while jumping and climbing trees in a garden or backyard.
Why is it not safe to pick up a squirrel?
It is not safe to pick a random or injured squirrel from the garden or outside the house because of the following reasons.
They are wild animals and behave aggressively when picked or touched by humans or predators; therefore, some states restrict them as illegal animals to keep them as pets.
They remain active all the time and behave aggressively when attacked or in danger, as they can bite or scratch you with their sharp teeth as a defense strategy.
Pet squirrels can attack or bite if they sense danger or do not feel safe around you or other pets in the house.
They feel fear when humans pick them up and show angry or aggressive behavior to escape the situation.
They are not only aggressive toward humans, but it is their intrinsic nature to react whenever someone approaches them, even if the purpose is to feed them their favorite food.
They can give humans and other predators a painful bite and draw blood with their sharp teeth when someone tries to grab or pick them.
Become frightened or stressed
Wild animals are always unpredictable because you cannot guess how they react to a situation or do they react the same way every time to a similar situation.
However, they become frightened or stressed when humans approach them and behave offensively when stressed.
I tried to pick a squirrel in my backyard, as it looked so cute, but it scratched my arm. I was not expecting this behavior from this cute little creature, but it disappointed me with a painful scratch.
They release a hormone from the adrenal glands known as the fight hormone when they get in a stressed or frightened situation. This hormone helps them to fight or react spontaneously and try to escape the stressful situation.
They carry many diseases, some of which are fatal for humans, while others are severe for insects and other wild animals.
For example, they can carry typhus, ringworm, tularemia, and plague and transmit them through bites or scratches.
Flu and body aches are the symptoms of typhus, tularemia, and plague, which can become severe if not treated soon.
One way to keep these diseases away is not to pick these rodents with bare hands, as they can bite you if threatened.
The indirect contact can also different diseases to spread from squirrels to humans, such as if you come in contact with their faces, urine, and contaminated soil.
The infected body part can spread the bacteria to other body parts if you do not immediately seek medical help. The symptoms can appear after one week or more, depending on the disease you get.
They can spread rabies to humans through bites, scratches, and saliva if they attack you when you pick them up from your backyard or outside the house. However, the chances of getting rabies in squirrels are rare.
Feel the pain
The squirrels will try to escape when you pick them up, and they move their body so that they feel pain and attack you because they feel threatened.
Do not pick a squirrel from its tail because they feel extra pain when someone tries to pick it from its tail and reacts aggressively.
Moreover, you can exert pressure or weight when trying to grab them because they become over-active when humans approach them, which causes them to feel pain and react.
It is better to call the wildlife center if you find an injured squirrel that needs treatment instead of picking them up because the professionals have the tricks and experience to handle these rodents.
They can carry different pests, such as fleas, ticks, and mites, which can infest the place where they live and build nests.
These pests can drop on your clothes, stick to your hands or feet and enter the house, where they find suitable places to hide and reproduce.
They can infest the place if they can enter the house; therefore, picking up the squirrels or touching them out of curiosity is unsafe.
The fleas and ticks can bite humans and pets and spread infections and diseases. In addition, the squirrels inside the home proximity can cause these pests on pets and humans more frequently.
For example, a pet dog in your house can get fleas from squirrels in your backyard if a dog visits the garden to play or roam because fleas like to feed on pets more than humans.
Not afraid of humans
The squirrels become bold and lose the fear of humans when you visit them more often and try to communicate and pick them.
They do not hesitate to get into the house and damage the property, such as access in the attics, roof, and chimneys, and chewing the electrical wires, insulated ducts, and plastic plumbing pipes.
These little rodents are sharp and become bolder when facing the same situation frequently; therefore, it is better not to pick them, as they will not remain afraid of humans and follow them to the house.
How can you pick up a squirrel safely?
It is not recommended to pick wild animals that can attack or bite you. However, you can pick an injured squirrel with some precautions to avoid accidents or damage.
Professionals recommend wearing thick protective gloves before picking or touching them for safety.
These gloves are thick enough that the sharp teeth of these rodents do not harm your hands and save you from any potential damage or infection.
You can pick it if it enters your house by slowly approaching it with a blanket on your body.
Put the blanket on it and roll it quickly without exerting much weight or pressure on its body. Take it with the rolled blanket outside the house and open it gently to let it escape.
Moreover, you can feed them by wearing gloves and adequately cleaning your hands with a disinfectant to remove pests or bacteria.
Do all squirrels behave wildly when picked up?
They have the intrinsic nature to behave wildly or aggressively when threatened or stressed or someone tries to pick on them.
Tree squirrels are more familiar to humans and do not react spontaneously if you approach them to feed, but red squirrels behave more aggressively in any situation.
They can bite strongly and often attack rodents from the same species. In addition, they scream and chatter to communicate with each other or when attacked by predators.
However, the pet squirrels are trained, and treated to behave nicely, as they become used to humans and do not behave aggressively when you approach them.