Pensioner in hospital after squirrel attack

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The Independent Online

An injured red squirrel named Elvis the Pelvis left a pensioner who came to his rescue in need of hospital treatment.

The six-month-old rodent sank his teeth into squirrel fanatic Ernie Gordon's finger and thumb - leaving the retired civil servant in need of a tetanus injection and a course of antibiotics.

Mr Gordon, who wrote children's book The Adventures Of Rusty Redcoat Volume 1 had been called out to rescue the squirrel after workmen spotted the injured animal in a timber yard in Alnwick, Northumberland.

The 75 year old took him to the vets where an X-ray revealed he had a broken pelvis.

Mr Gordon, who named him Elvis, took the squirrel home to his house in Windsor Gardens, Alnwick, where he built him a den in a lawnmower grass box.

But as he went to carry his charge to the straw-filled box, Elvis bit his right-hand index finger, then his left hand thumb.

"It hurt not a little bit, I can tell you," Mr Gordon said.

"A red squirrel can crack open an almond nutshell with its teeth so you can imagine how it felt.

"He took a little bit of persuading to let go but the fingers are fine and there's no hard feelings."

The injured animal was spotted dragging his hind legs by workmen at Alnwick Timber Yard.

They called Mr Gordon, who is well known for spending time each day at Alnwick's Hulne Park, where the red squirrels will feed from his hand.

"I put down a trap but he was not interested," Mr Gordon said. "He went next door to where there was a bird table and a the little girl who lived there caught him by covering him with a towel.

"He must have hit a rotten branch and fallen out of a tree. When you see the speed at which they rocket about between the branches it's no surprise to see this kind of injury.

"Now we just have to keep him still and keep our fingers crossed that he'll recover."

Elvis is staying in a garage at a friend of Ernie's in nearby Rennington.

He will be released back into the wild in three or four weeks.

An RSPCA spokesman said anyone who found a sick or injured squirrel should call the RSPCA or a local vet.

He said: "Anyone who finds a sick, injured or orphaned squirrel should resist the temptation to pick it up. Remember that squirrels use their teeth to crack open nuts, so they have a very strong bite.

"If you are advised to transport a squirrel to a vet, do not attempt to do so unless it can be safely contained, for example in a secure metal or plastic pet carrier. Otherwise, if the animal becomes active en route, it could quickly chew its way out of a cardboard box and be loose inside your car.

"Lining the carrier with a thick towel can provide some padding and insulation."