A policeman has been handed a special honour after he survived a ferocious attack — by a squirrel.
David Wheatley, a sheriff’s deputy from Harrison County in Indiana, USA, has been given some tongue-in-cheek recognition by the force for his courage after footage showed him being set upon by the furry animal.
He had been responding to a call from an elderly lady, who had opened the door of her caravan to let her cat in when a squirrel ran inside and began crawling all over her.
The tiny beast ran up and around her leg before making its way up her body, leaving her with a scratch on her head.
After a quick struggle the deputies caught the squirrel and began removing it from the home, triggering another ambush.
The video shows a uniformed Wheatley flailing around wildly and letting out a yell as he attempts to kick off the squirrel while it runs around his body.
His fellow officers jump back in shock at his sudden reaction, with one behind the camera heard laughing at the very end of the clip.
Back at the station his colleagues also saw the funny side of his close encounter of the woodland kind, as they awarded him a bronzed squirrel and a martial arts award for his bravery.
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He can be seen proudly holding the awards in his hands in a photograph released by the police.
The criminal squirrel remains at large and is wanted on charges of residential burglary and battery, Sheriff Smith said.
It turns out the altercation may leave the squirrel worse for wear in the long run, as a study last year into the impact of people getting too close to mammals found that the size of the beast determined how far away you should be.
For small mammals like squirrels, hares and rabbits, the study advised people to stay 50m away, while for larger ones like elk and red deer, between 500m and 1,000m is recommended.