A Squirrel Attack and What’s Wrong with America


A squirrel chomped the leg of a senior citizen sitting on the porch of a retirement home in Deltona. WESH diiihhyyzb
TV reports
that the victim ran inside, furry felon still attached, whereupon it bit three more seniors. This is terrible. (Especially for a squirrel fanatic like me. One bad squirrel does not a bad species make!)

Anyway, I bring it up  because at the end of this “news” story, the reporter (“Robert Lowe”!!!) says in all seriousness, “Tonight I spoke with the parent company which runs the senior living center here in Deltona. They described in detail what happened but did not say what if anything they’re doing to prevent another attack.

That’s right. The company did not abjectly, automatically and immediately announce any new measures it will take to make sure this once-in-a-lifetime incident does not happen once-in-a-lifetime again.

What does Robert Lowe think should happen? Perhaps the parent company could chop down all the trees on its property, or cover the porch in wire mesh? Maybe it could hire some squirrel assassins? Give HazMat suits to the golden agers who inisist on venturing outside?

My point is, this “SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!” mentality is doing us in. It’s making us dumb, scared, wasteful, ungrateful…. It’s the same thing we saw when Applebee’s accidentally served a toddler an alcoholic drink. Because this happened to come on the heels of a similar incident or two — out of the millions and millions of meals Applebee’s serves at more than 2,000 locations across America — it vowed to serve only individual-size juice packs to kids from now on. As if they’d been deliberately giving kids mojitos just for fun, for years.

It reminds me, too, of the fact that this year there were indeed a few reports of nails and pins in candy this Halloween. These were forwarded to me, as proof of the dangers of Halloween.

Which is, admittedly, a hard thing to parse. On the one hand, billions of pieces of candy didn’t have nails. But a few did. So I guess it does make sense to feel your candy and if there’s something hard or sharp in it, resist the urge to chomp.

But as a country, we have become so infected with the die-hard belief idea that if something bad happens anywhere, ever, even once, that is proof positive that whatever is normally quite safe (ordering applejuice, trick or treating, sitting on the porch) is not safe ENOUGH.  If you need proof of this conviction, try getting through airport security with an unopened can of Coke. Verboten! No one is allowed to play the odds — even odds of a trillion to one — and let you go through.

And in a litigious society like ours, we face an extra, boomerang worry: After first worrying that an extremely unlikely event is likely to happen again, in the exact same way, we now worry that if it DOES, we should have been prepared! And if we aren’t, it’s our fault! How will we ever explain our negligence in a court of law? So we worry about the highly unlikely happening, and about how we should have been more worried about it happening.

Finally, there’s the media’s role in this whole tangle of irrationality. The news acts as if any person, place or company that doesn’t immediately admit unforgivable nonchalance and institute an entirely new way of doing things just doesn’t care enough. Tsk tsk. That’s why we have to jettison our Coke before proceeding to the gate, and take our shoes off. That’s why CPS gets to insist on parenting lessons for a parent who let their kid wait in the car for 5 minutes, or play outside. There’s never any downside to insisting the very, very safe — the objectively, statistically safe — is not safe enough and must be stopped.

And if, some day,  a would-be terrorist hides a feisty, rabid squirrel under her wig — rodents on a plane! — you can bet that the TSA will start tugging our hair even as we take off our shoes.

Not that I want to give them any ideas.  – L.


I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! That leg looked so good!

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Is it a crime to like old people? 


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27 Responses to A Squirrel Attack and What’s Wrong with America

  1. Richard December 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    Even worse, we enjoy blaming those who were not prepared to ensure against the extremely rare occurrence and wallowing in our own superiority which will magically protect us and ours.

  2. MichaelF December 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    “It reminds me, too, of the fact that this year there were indeed a few reports of nails and pins in candy this Halloween. These were forwarded to me, as proof of the dangers of Halloween.”

    I scanned news reports the following couple of days after Halloween and didn’t come up with much other than scares. I posted in my private Facebook feed to my family and friends to send me anything that proves it, after hearing scares the week before Trick of Treating, nothing came up.

    Seeing this report I find it hard to believe the candy did not look tampered with, with the tack that would definitely look suspicious to me, even the nail in the chocolate looks to be rather odd. We went through my two kids candy afterwards, more to separate it out so we could donate most of it, and even the few candies that looked suspiciously wrapped, or unwrapped, were thrown out.

    Without seeing the wrappers it could be staged, and I tend to be from the Missouri camp of “Show Me” before its unwrapped to prove something was true. Funny how the Fremont police alert notes that there were no local reports of tampered candy.

  3. Mike December 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

    This sounds like it could generate another of your reason.com contests: “What Should Be Done To Prevent Squirrel Attacks”

  4. Beth December 26, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    And weird that this nail/tack thing happened to kids in the same family, the dad was a firefighter, and didn’t happen to anyone else living in the same neighborhood. Can’t figure out why someone would be mad at a fireman, but it seems targeted to me.

  5. Cindy December 26, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    Thank you for this, Lenore! We didn’t manage to survive as a species for this long without freaking out over such minute hiccups. And while we’re at it, we should be focusing more on global warming which threatens to take us out in even greater numbers.

  6. fred schueler December 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

    Squirrels are delicious, btw

  7. Marianne Lappin December 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    As a retired insurance claims adjuster I can tell you that EVERYONE thinks SOMEONE is responsible or EVERYTHING that happens. I believe in safety measures when possible and needed, but come on, people.

  8. Richard December 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    Beth, in addition to the general regulations and procedures protecting people against squirrel strikes, we clearly need special protective regulations to protect firefighters and their families from this danger.

  9. diane December 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    While I’m sure it’s not fun to be bitten by a squirrel, I can’t help but think “Christmas Vacation”:

    “Where’s Eddie? He usually eat these things.”
    “Oh, not anymore, Clark. He heard (read? I can’t remember the exact quote) they were high in cholesterol.”

  10. En Passant December 26, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

    Lenore wrote:

    A squirrel chomped the leg of a senior citizen sitting on the porch of a retirement home in Deltona. WESH TV reports that the victim ran inside, furry felon still attached, whereupon it bit three more seniors. This is terrible. (Especially for a squirrel fanatic like me. One bad squirrel does not a bad species make!)

    Agreed on the bad species inference. But the first thing that came to my mind was rabies, or some prion disease like BSE. Local epizootics do happen.

    An unusual animal attack like this usually results in public health authorities testing the critter’s carcass for evidence of disease. Public health authorities responding with warnings appropriate to any clinical findings would not be “worst first thinking”.

    Victims of animal bites also are sometimes subjected to a round of precautionary rabies vaccination before clinical tests can be made, because of the limited time to prevent infection.

    Bad species? No.

    Bad disease outbreak? Possibly.

    Beyond that general and fairly well established public health response, there is little that the “senior living center” can do besides caution residents to avoid contact or playing with squirrels or other wild critters.

    Don’t try to coax wild critters to eat food out of your hand. Don’t try to pet Bambi. Don’t even think about getting between a raccoon and its cubs. If bitten, get medical examination and treatment pronto.

    But that’s just common sense for most folks, even those who live in a “senior living center”.

  11. BL December 26, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    “Don’t try to coax wild critters to eat food out of your hand.”

    When I was in college squirrel bites were the number one ailment reported at the student health center on campus, and that’s how virtually all of them occurred.

    (In a survey in the student newspaper, most people asked guessed STDs would be number one. Dirty-minded college kids!)

  12. Alanna December 26, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    I do hope that squirrel and the senior citizen were tested for rabies. That is not normal squirrel behavior.

  13. Julie H December 26, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    My 14 yo’s response was that the seniors have probably been feeding the squirrels and that the first victim probably had peanut butter on his pants. :). Because, of course we should also blame the victim.

  14. hineata December 26, 2016 at 11:39 pm #

    Come now, the squirrels are obviously in league with the sheep from Black Sheep. It’s been lovely hearing from you all these years, Lenore, but as the end is nigh, I wish you all the best in the limited time we appear to have left to us as a race!

  15. sexhysteria December 27, 2016 at 2:44 am #

    Don’t take news reports for granted. A few nails or pins in Halloween candy could be false flag operations. There is no rational reason why anybody would do something like that, but there are many opportunists and profiteers who benefit from such reports that fuel the mass hysteria over stranger dangers.

  16. BL December 27, 2016 at 5:03 am #

    Nothing about the senior center being put on lockdown? That just triggers me. I need a safe space.

  17. lollipoplover December 27, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    We vacation in the Adirondacks most summers. The wildlife needs to be respected as it is wild and therefore unpredictable. We left some fish bones in our trash cans one night and we had a mama bear and cubs come visit us that night, looking for food. It was our fault. There are signs all over town, “Don’t feed the wildlife-bears, deer, squirrels. That week, a bear tore off the siding to break into the Fudge Shop in the center of town, looking for some more yummy human treats, and not foraging for berries in the woods. Squirrels who jump on front porches and bite are looking for food or have a disease.

    “SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!” Yes, humans need to stop feeding squirrels! They are rats with tails. (And whoever said they are yummy- my son would agree, he’s been on camping trips where they ate squirrel meat-dark and delicious!)

  18. Stacey Gordon December 27, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    This outlook pretty much drives all hospital policy.

  19. James December 27, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    I take it the reporter on the squirrel incident is not a Ray Stevens fan.

    What strikes me is how juvenile this whole concept is. We as a culture expect someone else to fix our problems. “What will YOU do about it?” is our automatic response. And that’s how children think. That’s no insult to children–they lack the tools, training, and experience to fix many problems the encounter. Adults, however, should not still be looking for Mommy and Daddy (or some replacement thereof) to make their lives better.

    If something needs done, and you’re more than 15/16 years old, your first instinct should be “What can *I* do about it?”

    As for squirrels, I agree that they are delicious. I hunted them when I was a kid, and am looking to start doing so again. In rural areas they’re a pest, and over-populated. And while they can be cute and adorable and all that, they are wild animals who can defend themselves. NO wild animal is without defenses, which means that you have to treat them ALL with respect. Which includes not hand-feeding them. If you want to feed them, buy yourself a length of 1×6, a few nails, and a long drywall screw and build yourself a squirrel feeder (the screw goes through the wood, and is used to hold cobs of field corn).

  20. Anne Herbst Oto December 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    Where, I wonder, are the advocates rushing to protect the psychological fragility of said squirrel? For all we know he was orphaned as a nutling and had to bite and scratch his way through the darkest echelons of squirrel society just to survive. Or, even if he grew up in a stable nest, we must take to task his errant parents for allowing him to venture out into a Wide World where the toothsome ankles of giants offer too much temptation to bear.

    I say, to paraphrase Hamlet, there shall be no more parenting. It is time for all infants to become wards of a Brave New World, monitored ceaselessly and unencumbered by threat, opportunity, or stimulation. Until they are of legal age and can be released into the wild, where they will rapidly be culled by their own ignorance and lack of imagination. (At least unto the thirtieth generation, after which all citizens will be exactly like them.)

  21. MichaelF December 27, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    The Squirrels may also be in league with Foamy, our Lord and Master.


  22. Rachael December 27, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    The halloween candy guy sounds to me like he wanted a viral fb post but didn’t want to be charged with falsifying a police report.
    Here’s my reasoning…
    There are no wrappers on the candy, no evidence that it was ‘hidden’ in there. You would have to be a complete idiot to think that either of these would do any damage. You can totally see the tack on the outside of the candy and the snickers with the nail would be bitten in half to be eaten and the nail would not make it into the mouth, not to mention being able to see it on the outside.
    Also, the fact that the police department stated they had no reports of tampered candy.

  23. Rachael December 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    On the positive side, if a ‘squirrel attack’ makes the news, it must be a pretty safe place to live.

  24. Matt December 27, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    Another Orlando story involving a SUV hitting another vehicle which then crashed thru the wall of a daycare killed a small child and injured others. The vehicle that caused the accident was a hit and run and the driver of the vehicle that hit the daycare wasn’t charged. What did Orange county decide to do. Create an ordinance that will force day care facilities to install vehicle crash barriers in front of the buildings. Even though the crash that killed the child went thru the side of the building. This happened in 2014 and the ordinance was approved in 2016. How many crashed like this occurred before and since this incident? And Orange County is providing $10,00 in grant money AKA “tax Money” to the daycare to help defray the cost of the barriers. its called the Lily Qunitus Childcare Center Vehicle Impact Grant. Its definitely a sad story and loss of such a young life but is this the best way to prevent a rare occurrence from happening again?

    Link for the ordinace story http://orlando-politics.com/tag/orange-county-crash-barrier-ordinance/

  25. Papilio December 30, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    @Hineata: (laaaaate) Do they change into monster squirrels now, I wonder? 😛

  26. Jeff Wegerson December 30, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    Sorry I’m late.

    You laugh about terrorist squirrels. But here in Chicago a suicide squirrel attacked and viciously injured an Alderman who was “raising the alarm about ‘aggressive squirrels’ wreaking damage”.


    “Brookins was badly injured in the [so-called] freak accident and will require multiple surgeries to recover.”

  27. Lorelei Rivers January 2, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    “And if, some day, a would-be terrorist hides a feisty, rabid squirrel under her wig — rodents on a plane! — you can bet that the TSA will start tugging our hair even as we take off our shoes.”

    As a woman with very long hair, they already do that. If I have my hair in a bun, or even a ponytail, TSA agents will tell me they must prod my hairstyle in case I’m hiding something within…