Whether you’re having a party or simply sitting in your yard, you could come across some little animals: the squirrels. These little animals are not used to human presence close to them and are not easy to domesticate unless you raise a baby squirrel. But when feeding, it may scratch, but would you be hurt if a squirrel scratches you.
However, if you are close to the squirrels, you and your kids could have an interaction with them. They usually have long fur and bright eyes to make their appearance more appealing. You need to know that squirrels belong to the rodents’ family and have many teeth that could cause scratching and bleeding.
Squirrels are not as friendly as you suppose they are. They are in a constant quest for food, and they like to have nuts berries and mushrooms when they find them. However, if the human is close, squirrels may receive some food like pine cones.
But curiously if you wish to cuddle squirrels, it might fight and scratch. What would happen if squirrel scratches, what diseases does it contain? Let’s now check some facts about squirrels scratching and biting that you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
The Short Answer…
Despite being friendly, squirrels can sometimes become aggressive when you come very close. Squirrels usually scratch when they feel threatened or believe that people want to take their food away even food like popcorn. There are some diseases related to squirrel scratchings like Tularemia, Lyme Disease, and Leptospirosis.
It’s not safe at all to touch squirrels in nature since they can scratch you with their nails and even bite you with their teeth. Squirrels do not carry Rabies and as a result, they cannot contaminate you with that. But fever is among the frequent symptoms of a squirrel scratching showing the inflammation that your body develops to fight bacteria from the squirrels that want to enter your body.
However, placing some alcohol and ointments on the wound with a bandage would be the fastest way to heal your squirrel scratching wounds.
Do Squirrels Scratch?
Squirrels have four sharp frontal teeth that continue to grow to their adult life. Young squirrels have two of these teeth, ready to bite and protect themselves from any potential intruder.
It’s also good to know that squirrels have a set of sharp and long nails that develop longer through the course of their lives. As a result, squirrels may actually scratch you when they feel you are threatening their lives or being a hurdle between them and their food even if you just wanted to touch. Squirrels travel miles for food and even run in front of cars for food.
Squirrels scratching could be quite painful, and sometimes the bleeding could be massive. The most usual place to receive scratches from squirrels would be your bare hands. It’s not rare to see children or adults bleeding from a deep squirrel scratch.
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Such interaction with squirrels could be a lot painful and leave you with a potential health issue that would require emergency medical attention. It’s always a good practice to call your doctor or visit a medical practice when a squirrel scratches you, no matter if you see no external bleeding or have any other symptom.
How Often Can Squirrels Present Such Behavior?
Squirrels are usually friendly animals as long as you watch them from a safe distance. They are afraid of humans and will only come close to you if you present their food even eat human food like chocolate.
Many people believe that giving food to squirrels with their bare hands would be a safe practice. However, that’s when squirrels scratch and bite more frequently, especially when they compete with other squirrels for the same amount of food you want to offer them that is when they are all active.
It’s a common image to see squirrels scratching your skin and giving you a hurtful feeling. That is more apparent in children who cannot control their feelings and would have an awful experience every time they view squirrels scratching them to oblige them to give them more food. Before that, squirrels may also make up some sound as a warning.
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Are There Any Diseases You Can Catch From Squirrels Scratching?
As mentioned before, squirrels are rodents and carry virtually the same diseases as mice do. Believe it or not, a squirrel scratch or bite could contaminate you with germs, bacteria, and viruses that could cause a serious systemic infection to your body.
Let’s take a look at the most serious diseases you can catch from squirrels’ scratching and biting:
- Tularemia: Even though it’s a rare disease, it can cause a serious infection to people who are receiving it. It’s called rodents’ fever and affects your blood by decreasing the number of white blood cells responsible for your defense against any intruder. The disease is common to children and adults who have a fresh scratch from squirrels, especially when that scratch involves some bleeding.
You may understand you suffer from tularemia when you see yourself having a high fever (most of the time in the 39 degrees Celcius rate) and chills like a normal cold. It’s the right time to perform some blood tests to identify the germ that has entered your bloodstream and receive some antibiotics to ensure that tularemia goes through your body without affecting certain organs.
- Lyme Disease: It’s not rare that squirrels are bitten by small mosquitoes that carry protozoa, causing Lyme disease to people. Those protozoa are called Borrelia burgdorferi and sometimes, Borrelia mayonii. The symptoms are fever, skin rash, migraine, and chills or muscle pains throughout the body. They appear during the first 24 hours after the squirrel scratches.It’s necessary to see a doctor right after you think a squirrel has scratched you, especially when you have identified the ticks that could be close to the wound and give you the assurance that the squirrel was contaminated. Today Lyme disease could be easily eradicated from your body with the right combination of drugs.
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- Leptospirosis: Some other germs could get transmitted to your body when a squirrel scratches you. That is the bacteria of Leptospirosis that normally exists in the urinary tract of squirrels and can contaminate their nails when they walk or sit in an area they have spread their urine before.Leptospirosis causes a serious infection in humans, including fever, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal pain, and jaundice, and liver failure in serious situations. Suppose you think you have been infected with Leptospirosis. In that case, you need to get immediately admitted to a hospital and take the necessary intravenous antibiotics to ensure you have eradicated the disease sooner than later.
How Safe Is It to Touch Squirrels When You Find Them in Nature?
It’s certainly not safe to touch squirrels when you find them free especially wild squirrels. All squirrels live in big families like any other rodent you will find in the woods. For that reason, you may expect several of them to attack you when they see you as a threat to their kids.
You should always prevent your children from touching squirrels no matter how cute they look. Squirrels are ready to scratch you since they live with the “fight or flight” syndrome to ensure their survival in an extreme situation.
A squirrel will normally not attack you if it doesn’t identify you as a potential predator. Under no circumstances should you hide food and play with squirrels since it could be a major reason for them to scratch and bite you.
Can You Get Rabies If A Squirrel Scratches You?
Rabies is called Lyssavirus in the scientific wording and is not likely for squirrels you find in nature to carry it. So it would be highly unlikely for you to get rabies if a squirrel scratches you.
The most common animals that carry rabies are foxes, bats, and coyotes. However, squirrels are afraid of these animals and don’t have direct intercourse with them, preferring to hide when they see them.
That’s why there is absolutely no chance to see a Rabies-infected squirrel. However, since you can get several other infections from squirrels, as analyzed before, it’s always better to reduce the chances of receiving a scratch from them when you are close.
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What Is The Best Way To Heal The Wound After A Squirrel Scratching?
The right way to heal the wound after a squirrel scratches you would be to use fresh water and clean the whole area. After that, you should directly apply a disinfectant like alcohol or betadine, the most common treatment for getting all the germs away from the wound spot.
If bleeding is involved, you should use some hemostatic powder to allow your body to create blood clots and stop the bleeding. Then the best practice would be to use an ointment with antibiotic agents and protect the wound area using a clean bandage.
You should always expect to remove the bandage at least once a day and check if the wound has healed or if it has been swollen and red. If you see redness on the wound spot and excessive red color, that means you have a local skin infection.
The best thing to do would be to apply more antibiotic creams to the area and fresh bandages to ensure no new germs are attacking. It’s always a piece of good advice to see your doctor and let him decide about the seriousness of the scratch and if you need to receive emergency medical attention and other blood exams.
Can You Develop Fever After a Squirrel Scratching?
There is a high probability of developing a fever after a squirrel scratching, and the chances of developing fever are higher when the scratch incident involves bleeding.
That happens because when bleeding occurs, you directly touch the squirrels’ nails to your bloodstream. Fever is the first symptom of a germ intruding your body, and you develop a higher temperature to kill it. That’s the way inflammation and cellular defense works in your body.
When you develop a fever after a squirrel scratching, you should always seek medical attention as there are many diseases you may catch and be potentially life-threatening.