A boy of three was hospitalized after feeding wild squirrels at a park in Cornwall.
West Briton reports:
Mum Sophie Renouf, 22, was enjoying a walk in Tehidy woods with son Finley when he reached out to feed one of the creatures, but he was left horrified when five more suddenly burst out of the undergrowth and leapt on him.
Miss Renouf from Redruth said: “There was literally one squirrel there and my son, as you would, fed him as usual.
“Next thing, six of them came running out of the hedge and then, all of a sudden, all I remember is him screaming.
“I looked – and there was blood pouring out of his hand.”
Miss Renouf rushed to intervene and even had to fight off one of the creatures which was trying to scramble up her leg.
Tearful Finley was rushed from the scene to the minor injuries unit at nearby Barncoose Hospital, but he was immediately transferred to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, where medics spent three hours treating his puncture wounds and bandaging his fingers.
Miss Renouf now wants to warn others about the dangers of feeding wild squirrels.
“I’ve fed them when I was a child,” she said.
“If it put them in danger then you wouldn’t ever let them do it – but you don’t expect it to happen.
“I asked if he had touched its tail and he said no. I didn’t see him do anything like that, so I assume they’ve just had babies – or they’re about to.”
Finley had only just plucked up courage to feed the creatures after being convinced it was safe by his parents.
Miss Renouf added: “I just want to let other people know. I don’t want other children to go down there and get bitten. A girl I used to go to school with messaged me on Facebook and said they’d tried to bite her little girl as well.”
“We basically just went to the woods to feed the squirrels, he fed one which was fine.
“Then all of a sudden six came running out the hedge and Finley fed one, the next thing I heard a huge scream and cry and I looked and there was blood pouring out of his hand.
“My first priority was to take him to the toilet to get some tissue to put pressure on the wounds.
“Then I looked and I had one digging at my trouser leg, actually on my leg. Then I took him to get treatment.
“I was obviously very concerned as never in a million years would I put his safety at risk so if I thought they would hurt him I’d never of let him do it. I feel awful that it happened.”
Cornwall Council said it was “sorry to hear about the incident”.
A spokesman said: “Many people visit Tehidy Country Park to see the squirrels so they are quite used to people being around and unafraid to approach if they think food might be available.”
“However, they are wild animals which are naturally capable of finding their own food and we do not encourage or advise people to feed them or any of the wild birds at Tehidy.”
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