Sunday Things: I don’t hate squirrels

Image courtesy of Photographing Squirrels

“Don’t’ worry Mommy, I’m OK.

Seeing my daughter’s ID come up on my phone and answering it expecting her to say she just called to say she loves me or needs me to pick her up earlier or later (from Macalester College campus) or wants me to bring something to her that she left at home, I was ill prepared for the words, “Don’t’ worry Mommy, I’m OK.” Of course I immediately went into hyper alert. “What do you mean you’re OK?! What’s wrong?!”

“Well, I got bitten by a squirrel.” she said. ” It doesn’t hurt that much but I thought I should call you and let you know because it broke the skin. I already washed it and talked to the nurse about it.”

“Good. Good girl. You were right to call mommy. I’ll call your doctor and see if she wants me to bring you to her office or to the emergency room.” All the while I was talking to her on the phone I was concomitantly looking up information online about squirrels and rabies. I was in a quiet panic of anxiety.

According to the CDC, there has not been one documented case of rabies being transmitted to a human by a squirrel — here in Minnesota or in the entire United States. There have, however, been cases in Canada, our very near neighbor.

The thing about rabies is it is 100 percent fatal once symptoms manifest. The only treatment is a prophylactic  series of shots. The good news is that the shots no longer number 50. The bad news is that they still hurt and are accompanied by their own host of possible complications. But yeah, I’d choose shots over certain death any day.

Jasmine’s doctor wanted
her brought in to the emergency room in case she needed that series of
shots to counteract rabies — something they don’t keep on hand in the
doctor’s office.

People as walking vending machines

When I first talked to Jasmine, I was imagining something like the following image, an unexpected and totally out of the blue attack encounter with a ninja squirrel:

Photo courtesy of Natures Images

But what really happened is that Jasmine lured the “adorable” wild animal to her with food and in the process of eating the cookie — right from her hand! — the squirrel took a nip of finger too. The deceptively cute
bushy tailed rodents abound on the grounds of Macalester College. I am
just going to take this opportunity to make a PSA and say: DON’T FEED
THE SQUIRRELS! Any squirrels, anywhere. They are wild animals and you
are destroying their reserve around humans by presenting yourself as a
food source. Don’t be a walking vending machine for critters in the wild.

(Jasmine’s lucky she didn’t lose a finger!)

“Squirrel Girl”

The Sheriff on duty at the emergency room jokingly asked Jasmine if she bit the squirrel back and told her “Watch out, you might grow a tail! Then we’ll have to call you, ” he paused for dramatic effect, “Squirrel Girl.”

Jasmine informed him that there is in fact a super-hero “Squirrel Girl” in the pantheon of Marvel comic characters. He said “You keep me posted on your super status.”

The original Squirrel Girl illustration is by
Christopher Haynes,
inspired by the style of Bruce Timm

emergency room doctor said that because of the clean squirrel population and the
normal behavior of the animal that bit Jasmine, the rabies shots were not medically indicated. The doctor’s decision, in conjunction with guidance from
the CDC, was to give
Jasmine antibiotics for the bite wound. Following the course of antibiotics, all is well, Jasmine is fine (no sign of a tail!) and I don’t hate squirrels.

This past Friday was Jasmine’s last day of class. As well as bringing a wonderful advanced mathematics learning experience to a close, this will also bring to a close my daily admonition as I dropped Jasmine off each morning: “Don’t feed the squirrels!”

I’m feeling grateful on this beautiful summer Sunday.

Links of interest:

Squirrel Girl Fan Pages
WHO (World Health Organization) Rabies Facts