Beavers don't often strike terror into the hearts of people walking the streets late at night, but one particularly toothy specimen late last week proved there is much to fear from a hostile beaver.
A man identified only as Sergei was taken hostage – yes, taken hostage – by an irate beaver in Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia. Inna Plavoka, editor of the local Seychas paper told Latvian Radio 4 about the furry hostage crisis.
Sergei was walking around late at night minding his own business, when out of the shadows a beaver emerged like a phantom dam builder, and without warning charged right at him.
Still confused by the sight his eyes were taking in, Sergei was bitten deeply on the leg by the massive buck-toothed rodent, and as he tried to fight back he was dropped to the ground by the beaver, which apparently was a skilled combatant.
The Daugavpils man tried lying motionless, hoping his flat-tailed attacker would lose interest and hunker off back to his swamp. But the beaver merely glared at him with ruthless eyes, and when Sergei tried to get up, it bit him again.
"The beaver was in effect holding Sergei hostage," reports Plavoka, in a quote likely never before heard on the news.
The motive behind the hostage crisis remains unknown, as the beaver did not issue any demands or ultimatums.
While the beaver would not let Sergei leave, it showed generosity in letting him use his cellphone, which he pulled out to call rescue services.
But after being told by a fully grown man that he was being held hostage by an irate beaver, the rescue service workers hung up, absolutely certain that they had received a prank call.
Reaching the end of his tether, Sergei called up a friend who asked him if he had lost his mind, but after Sergei assured him that his mind was still in place and intact, the loyal friend agreed to come rescue him from the clutches of the beaver hostage taker.
The rescue did not go without a hitch, however, as Sergei's friend was pulled over by police for speeding as he rushed to the hostage scene.
After being told by the speeding driver that he was breaking the legal limits to save his friend from the jaws of a lone beaver, the officers promptly subjected him to a breathalyzer test. They were shocked to find he was not heavily drunk, and still scratching their heads in doubt, they accompanied him to where Sergei was being held hostage.
There at the scene police were shocked once again as they found the Latvian man lying while an angry beaver stood by as his captor, and at their approach the beaver made clear their intervention was not welcome.
Facing the hostile rodent, police did the only thing to be done in such a situation, and immediately called in for heavy backup. Animal welfare officers were dispatched, racing to the scene where they used years of training to peacefully defuse the hostage crisis.
But the beaver, which is a protected species in Latvia, disappeared as secretly and ominously as he arrived, and after escaping law enforcement officials he remains at large and dangerous.
Throw your wallet and run
Sergei for his part was traumatized by the experience, and was given 15 stitches on his leg for the brutal bites inflicted by the brazen beaver.
What is the terror stricken public in Latvia to do faced with such dangerous dam-building attackers on the prowl?
Mihails Pupins, director of the Daugavpils Zoo, warned that beavers can become very aggressive in the spring, and gave some pointers as to how to come out of an encounter with them in one piece.
Turning tail and running away at top speed is the best thing to do when faced by an angry beaver, according to the zoo director.
If your dignity won't allow you to run away from a furry rodent, the other options don't get much better – according to Pupins, the alternative is to drop your wallet or some other object to distract and possibly bribe the beaver, while you climb a tree.
Even that solution is only temporary though, he warned, as a beaver truly fixated on wreaking havoc among the human population will not be stopped for long, even by a tree.