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Traveler warning: Dangerous squirrels rampant in Grand Canyon

By James Raia
Besides the usual common sense safety and wildlife guidelines, now there’s an increased alert for nature visitors – the finger-eating squirrels of the Grand Canyon.

Park officials have issued a warning about the sharp-toothed creatures. During past busy weekends, the small mammals have sent at least 30 tourists to seek medical care for their bloodied fingers.

“Enjoy squirrels from a safe distance,” park officials said. “Their sharp teeth crack nuts – and cut fingers.”

Hey, humans: Keep away from squirrels

Tourists should stay at least 50 feet away from small mammals at the Grand Canyon, according to the National Park Service.

Rock squirrels are usually about 20 inches long with tails the size of about half their bodies. They’re grayish-brown and they live in boulders, rocks and trees.

“Although they may appear harmless and even curious about you, those little creatures cause the most injuries to visitors,” the National Park Service said in a release. “That’s partly why harassing or feeding any kind of wildlife, no matter how small or familiar, is illegal in all national parks.”

Humans are also a threat to squirrels. Park visitors should never feed animals in the Grand Canyon.

“Human food is hard for rock squirrels to digest, and feeding them has led to several fatalities,” park officials said. “These squirrels have been known to get into backpacks, lunch pails, and trash cans, and to steal food right out of visitors’ hands.”

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Ozzie
4 months ago

As a caddie at Pinehurst resort I witnessed several encounters with guests and our “cute” fox squirrels. The repeated feeding of them causes them to lose their fear of people. One man was saved by his golf glove, another had his bag ruined by them, and sadly a fellow caddie who should have known better had to have several stitches in his finger.

MLogan
4 months ago

In 2009 on our week stay at the Grand Canyon the wife sat down on a round seat, waiting for the ranger tour, and she open her backpack and looked away and turned back to find a squirrel had jumped into the backpack. Scared her to find the squirrel there before it jumped out and running away.

Gary
4 months ago

They deserve it. Sorry, not sorry.

Thomas D
4 months ago

You can’t fix STUPID. There are signs everywhere about not feeding the squirrels. 2years ago I saw a woman get bitten. Duh, there was not much sympathy among the bystanders.
Often wondered, did she need the rabies series?

Crowman
4 months ago

Ground squirrels also carry the fleas that have Bubonic plague.

Leslie Berg
4 months ago
Reply to  Crowman

And Hantavirus😱! Pets should be protected against pests carried by wild animals.

Rich
4 months ago

Any body what to start a pool on the number of people gored by bison in Yellowstone this year?

Dan
4 months ago
Reply to  Rich

That will no doubt happen when some clown says “hey, get a video of me scaring that big cow”.

Tim Haigler
4 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Let’s go cow tipping

Carson Axtell
4 months ago
Reply to  Rich

Thank God for evolution weeding out the dummies. Just hope no innocent animals are injured in the process…