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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 16:22 GMT
Squirrel gets nut
A part-time inventor from West Yorkshire suffered whiplash injuries when a squirrel landed on his head as he was testing out a feeding tray mounted on a hat.

Mike Madden, 48, was walking through woodland when the grey squirrel spied the nuts on the headwear.

The squirrel landed with such force that Mr Madden was knocked to the ground and injured his neck.

He said: "It felt solid when it hit me but I was lucky really because it could have taken my head off."

Flying missile

The 48-year-old welder has been taking pain-killers and wearing a neck brace since the accident near his home in Crackpot Cottage, Honley, in Huddersfield.

He said: "I was out walking through the woods with my friend Craig Bailey.

"We had only just started the walk when 'kaboom' - I was on the floor.

"I didn't see much of what happened but Craig told me he saw the squirrel flying through the air and land right on my head.

Surprise outcome

"The next morning I was in so much agony."

Mr Madden designed the hat so that birds could feed from it while he was out walking, because he was concerned about their winter food supplies.

But he did not think other inhabitants of the woodlands would take an interest in it.

Mr Madden said: "Someone told me afterwards that with it coming up to winter and food being so short, squirrels can be quite aggressive and opportunistic.

'Small puppy'

"I wish I had known that before.

"I've always liked squirrels - but once you've had one land on your head travelling about 30 mph you can easily go off them.

"I couldn't tell you exactly how much it weighed but I think it was about the size of a small puppy or kitten."

Mr Madden does not plan to continue with his plans for a bird-feeding hat.

See also:

14 Oct 01 | Sci/Tech
Refuge for red squirrels
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