Jul. 19--SANTA CRUZ -- Emily went down biting. It took two fire engines, an animal services officer and a wildlife handler to remove the eastern gray squirrel, a mother of three newborns, about noon Friday.
It was a day after the news broke that Emily, who was named by a woman who rescued her from another area of town, had been biting people walking near her citrus tree nest at the corner of Maple and Cedar streets.
The 1-year-old neighborhood rodent, which has been known to sprint into a massage parlor during business hours, will be reunited with its hairless, squeaking babies at Native Animal Rescue. She was removed after Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter received three reports that people had been bitten by a territorial squirrel in the grapefruit tree at the busy street corner.
Bill Snell, a Native Animal Rescue volunteer, said it was the first time he ever had to remove a squirrel's nest in town.
A firetruck's ladder was extended over the cordoned Maple Street in a public show of Emily's might. She was placed in a blue box separate from her babies and started to gnaw from the enclosure within minutes.
Animal Shelter Field Manager Todd Stosuy said it was the first time in his 16 years working in Santa Cruz that a squirrel had to be relocated for aggressive behavior.
Cabrillo College psychology instructor Charlotte Nolan-Reyes has scars showing Emily's "can-opener" bite strength, but she loves the little rodent she rescued in August 2018, when Emily was about 4 weeks old and fell from a tree near Nolan-Reyes' car at Mission Hill Middle School.
But when she nested in a tree on a neighboring property at the street corner, Emily became dominant, standing her ground after biting three people in a week.
Even Friday, when Snell approached her, she appeared poised to jump on the firetruck's ladder on her own to protect her youngsters.
Her witching hour has been about 8 p.m. She bit a woman's right ankle about that time Monday.
Tuesday night, Emily struck again, attacking a woman and ripping open a 20-year-old man's arm.
The man had to be treated at an emergency room.
Stosuy said the animal-rescue volunteer helped to prevent a less favorable outcome.
"If we took them, they'd have to be put down," Stosuy said.
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