A Greenfield man was attacked by a beaver. Now, his case is being published in a medical journal.

“I’ve seen a lot of animal bites, but I have never seen a beaver attack.”

A Greenfield man told reporters he was attacked by a beaver, which officials presume was rabid. Diane Hargreaves Library

In an extremely rare occurrence, a man was attacked by a presumably rabid beaver in a Western Massachusetts pond, according to MassLive.

Mark “Pres” Pieraccini – a 73-year-old man from Greenfield – told reporters he was attacked by a beaver while swimming in a remote pond on Sept. 6. He reportedly suffered serious injuries from the attack, including significant blood loss, a torn tendon on his hand, lacerations on his head, and puncture wounds on his body, among other injuries.

“I still can’t feel my thumb,” Pieraccini told the Greenfield Recorder.

Pieraccini said he has been swimming at this pond since the 1970s and frequently swam to an island in the middle to “Zen out,” according to MassLive. The pond is reportedly deep in the woods and Pieraccini told MassLive he had to bike a mile and a half to get there.

MassLive reported on the day of the attack, he had gone through his normal schedule: he drove to the woods, biked to the pond, swam to the island, then later started to swim back around 11 a.m.


Until, he said he felt something large bump against his right thigh — something much larger than any of the fish he has felt swim by him over the past few decades.

“His description is reminiscent of that scene toward the beginning of ‘Jaws’ where a woman swimming in the ocean learns she is being attacked by a shark,” MassLive reporter Patrick Johnson wrote. “Reminded of the scene, Pieraccini said it was exactly like that. Only it was a freshwater pond and not the ocean, and instead of a great white, his attacker emerged as ‘a 50-pound rodent.'”

Pieraccini told Masslive he tried to punch the beaver away, but that only made the beaver more angry and attack more. He reportedly tried to fight off the beaver – while still swimming in deep water – before realizing he needed to escape before he drowned.

Pieraccini reportedly then swam about 40 yards to shore as the beaver continued to bite and attack him. Once safely arriving to shore – and now profusely bleeding and exhausted – MassLive reported he still had to bike to his car and drive himself to the nearest hospital.

Pieraccini told MassLive he knew there were two beaver lodges at the opposite end of the pond where he was attacked.


“I know every inch of that pond,” Pieraccini told MassLive. “I know where the beaver lodges are.”


The Recorder reported that the rarity of the situation is what interested Benjamin Woodward –a nurse practitioner and wilderness medicine specialist at Baystate Franklin Medical Center who treated Pieraccini after the attack.

“It was pretty wild,” Woodard said. “I’ve seen a lot of animal bites, but I have never seen a beaver attack.”

The Recorder reported Woodward is currently writing an article for publication in a wilderness and environmental medicine journal. Pieraccini reportedly gave Woodward permission to use his story in the publication, with hopes it can help someone in the future, according to the Recorder.

After getting stitches and being cleaned up at the hospital, Pieraccini also reportedly received five rounds of rabies shots.

The Recorder also reported that Pieraccini is refusing to disclose the location of the attack. Since he has reportedly never seen another person swimming there in the decades he spent swimming there, he told MassLive he does not think it is necessary.

The Recorder also reported he does not want people coming at the pond and fears people will disrupt the natural environment there.


“This isn’t a story about a crazy beaver. This is a story about the natural world. This is a story about human beings being a part of it — not different from it, not apart from it,” Pieraccini told the Recorder. “Our presence degrades it, unfortunately, because we don’t pay attention to our effect on it. So, let’s inform people about the world around us.”


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