An Alabama man wanted on drug and weapons charges has posted a video denying he fed methamphetamine to a so-called "attack squirrel" which he considers a pet.
Mickey Paulk from the US city of Athens posted the video on his Facebook page on Tuesday night as authorities continue searching for him.
It shows him stroking a rodent which he indicated was the same one seized during a search before it was released by authorities.
“You can’t give squirrels meth; it would kill ’em.
"I’m pretty sure, (but) I’ve never tried it,” he said.
Paulk said the squirrel, which he kept as a pet, was safe and not a threat to anyone.
“The public isn’t in danger in any kind of way from the methed-out squirrel in the neighbourhood,” Paulk said with a laugh.
He said also that a friend gave him the animal shortly after it was born, and he named it Deeznutz.
Stephen Young, a spokesman for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, said investigators are still looking for Paulk, 35, who has an extensive criminal record.
“Yes, we’re aware of the video,” he said.
“And yes, that’s him in the video.”
Police said they were warned about a meth-fuelled, trained attack squirrel before conducting a drug search at a rural home near Athens, Alabama, on Monday.
One man was arrested at the home and police said they released the caged squirrel.
In the video, Paulk denied living at the home but said he went there after the raid and saw the pet squirrel in a treetop.
The animal scampered down and hopped onto his shoulder, he said.
“I just pulled up and whistled,” said Paulk, who is wanted on warrants accusing him of possession of drugs and an illegal weapon.
Deputies released the squirrel in trees near the home, but there was no way to say whether the squirrel shown in the video is the same one released by officers after the raid.
“We don’t know if he might even have two squirrels,” Mr Young said.
“It would just be speculation.”
Speaking in a phone interview with the Associated Press, Paulk said on Wednesday that he was working with a lawyer and relatives on a plan for turning himself in.
Paulk said he had “a few loose ends to tie up” before surrendering, including getting the squirrel to a temporary home in Tennessee.
He said he has raised Deeznutz since it was a baby.
“I’ve had it since it was a little pink thing,” he said.
Paulk said he did not know why authorities believed the squirrel was on drugs unless someone saw it acting excitedly and told police, “maybe he’s on meth or something”.