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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/John Verive

A squirrel with a taste for human blood is running wild in Prospect Park

Written by
Clayton Guse

New Yorkers have a lot of things to worry about: rent hikes, treacherous subway commutes and the constant paranoia of a bed bug infestation, to name a few. After a series of strange attacks last week, locals have another thing to fear: squirrels.

The adorable rodents roam freely through the city's parks and green spaces, living in a respectful symbiosis with human passersby. But last week, one rogue squirrel in Prospect Park broke the long-held truce between its kind and the people of New York when it went on a rampage, wounding five unsuspecting park goers in the process.

Between July 18 and July 20, five people were attacked and bitten by a "potentially rabid squirrel" close to the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to the park, according to a statement from the Health Department. The incidents led officials to hang up a set of flyers near the affected access point, urging anyone that may have been bitten by a squirrel in the area to immediately seek treatment for rabies. 

While reports of squirrel bites are nothing new for the Health Department (there are roughly 70 reported bites from our bushy-tailed brethren in the city each year), the aggressive nature of the Prospect Park squirrel is unusual. The department notes that New York State has not found a rabid squirrel since it began surveilling for rabies in 1992, but, given how nuts (get it?) the rodent in question is behaving, it's acting under the assumption that the creature is rabid.

The attack of the squirrel ought to be a reminder for everyone in the city to keep their distance from wild animals. Health commissioner Dr. Mary Basset said in a statement that most squirrel bites occur when someone tries to feed an animal. So, like, don't do that. 

The merciless squirrel is still at large, but if it is in fact infected with rabies, it's probably already dead, the Health Department says. If it isn't infected with rabies, then that means that a squirrel is out there, roaming Brooklyn's most beautiful area with a thirst for human blood. 

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