Kenneth Setzer

Things I’ve been bitten by

I got to thinking about all the animals we get stung or bitten by in our lifetimes. I’m sure there are so many we don’t ever even become aware of, which may be nature’s way of stopping us going insane. It seems to me animals bite/sting us for defense (or play defense), to check us out, or to feed from us.

In an attempt to amuse and entertain, I’ve decided to list the creatures I am sure have bitten or stung me, in no specific order:

1. Dog (in play and in defense). Nothing serious, maybe a tiny amount of blood one time (see below for perpetrator).

You Mean You Don't LOVE Wearing Antlers?

2. Cat (in play and defense). Yeah, me and every other person in the history of history who’s ever touched a cat.

3. Bird, specifically a Monk Parakeet (aka Quaker Parrot) (in perceived defense). We found one of these cuties in my backyard years ago. Its wings were clipped, so assuming it couldn’t survive outdoors we captured it. Its name was Queequeg. Queequeg’s bite was as sharp as the fictional harpooner’s (harpoonier sp?) endblade. Comparable to being pinched by a pointy, sharpened needlenose pliers. He/she bit ALL THE TIME!

4. Miniature donkey (to feed). Laying in the grass out in Colorado, I reached up to pet two donkeys I’d made friends with. They clearly thought my hand was grass. No blood drawn. Mistakes happen.

Sorry Man, about the Bite and All.

5.  Clam (defense). True, they can’t technically bite, and don’t sting. However, I often run my hand along sand in shallow water to find shells and animals to look at, and the time I was at Matheson Hammock‘s lagoon was no exception. I found a clam, pulled it out to take a look, and lo and behold it was intact and very much alive, with a great amount of greenery attached to the top of its bivalve-y goodness. It opened its two halves, and hey SNAP! back together they went, nipping me in the process. No harm done. I’m just happy I didn’t sit on it. (Note: the lagoon at Matheson got me sick. It tends to accumulate bacteria, etc.)

The Lagoon at Matheson Hammock in Miami, Florida. Day of the Clam Incident.

6. Wasps, a couple times (defense). Never been stung by a bee, but wasps, yes. Pour white vinegar on the affected area and the burning ends immediately!

7. Hermit crab (exploratory, reflex). I no longer keep hermit crabs, as they need the ocean to reproduce, and I feel it’s wrong to deprive them of that. When I did keep them, I managed to have one in particular live through about three molts. Shy, reclusive crustaceans — as the name suggests — my hermit crabs were never aggressive to me. When they retreat into their shells, their large claw is left to cover the shell aperture, thus closing it off with a weapon. I discovered that if you insert something between the claws, they will instinctively close. But one time, being a curious idiot, I wondered how hard they could pinch, and put the thenar space webbing between my thumb and forefinger between the claws. DAMN! I had to put the crab on a flat surface so it felt safe enough to let go, but in that 0.5 seconds I was amazed how much force that little claw exerted. Oh yeah, it’s not really biting, but pinching claws sort of work like a jaw.

8. Green iguana (defense). They have lots of small, but very sharp, teeth designed for ripping apart vegetation. Mine whipped with its tail, could scratch, and bit me a couple times. Usually she only threatened, but the teeth came down on me enough to know it hurt. Not bad, sandpapery, and drew the tiniest amount of blood one time.

9. Common gecko (defense). These are all over the place in South Florida. I pick them up all the time when they get indoors. No pain at all, no blood drawn. Aw, how cute, the little gecko’s angwy and biting!

10. Brazilian Free-Tail Bat (defense). This one is a tale unto itself (Future post!). In short, I thought it was an injured bird, picked it up to help, and it was a small bat. It bit me between thumb and forefinger (see number seven, above). The bite only hurt a little, and no blood was visible. However, because of its unusual behavior, small, needle-sharp teeth, and the small size of the rabies virus, I had to get vaccinated for rabies. Five ER sessions later, and I was done! Would I do it again? I did, a few months later, but with leather workgloves.

Brazilian Free-Tail Bat What Bit Me!

The rest are pretty mundane: mosquitoes, gnats, flies, the same critters we all get accosted by. So what’s biting you?

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