My Scar Stories


I ♥ Vermin (but They Don’t ♥ Me) defines vermin as “small animals that are troublesome to man.” Bunnies, raccoons, foxes, chipmunks…they’re all vermin. But, aww, I mean, just look at ‘em!

Heck, I even think rats are cute. Yes, I know about the Black Death, but technically that was caused by bacteria on fleas, hitching rides on rats. I mean, do you arrest a trucker just because some dudes with drugs stowed away on his trailer? OK, so rats could do a better job on personal hygiene, but still…

And mice? Forget about it. Each time our cat Misha captures one, I take it away from her, look into its shiny little eightball eyes, and then set it free in a local forest. The last time Misha caught a mouse, she dropped it in my lap, as if to say, “Here, Mr. Sensitive, you’ll probably want to ‘save’ this.”

I can’t help it. I ♥ vermin.

But they don’t ♥ me. A cosplayer at a Renaissance festival had a pet ferret. She said, “Go ahead and pet him. Nigel likes it.” So I put out my hand, and Nigel promptly attempted to separate it from my arm. As I raced to find post-Elizabethan toilet paper to stanch the blood, the woman shouted, “What did you do to him? Now he’s all upset!” I wanted to ring her neck. With Nigel.

Both the high and low points in my vermin-loving career came when we moved to a townhouse in Burbank, California. Several squirrels lived in the pines out front. One, whom my wife dubbed Nutkin, spent most of her time digging up our potted plants. So one day I set down a pile of almonds near her. From that moment on I was her dealer. The minute she spotted me in the morning, she’d leap onto the screen door and rattle it until I brought her “her almonds.” By week two, she was stuffing her cheeks before I walked away. By week three, she was eating out of my hand. So by week four, certain of her love, I reached out to pet her.

I know. Stupid idea.

Really stupid. 

By the time I’d shaken her off, Nutkin’s teeth had pierced my digital phalanx to the bone. By comparison, Nigel the Ferret’s nip had been playful tickling. My index finger exploded like a Texas gusher. Once I’d sealed the hole, my finger turned the color–and size–of a ripe eggplant. Two things disappeared that day: 1) my fingernail and, 2) my idiotic notion that vermin are pets. There’s no way I’d… Oops, gotta go, there’s a chipmunk outside and…

He’s so cute!

To read my next Scar Story, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir, Story Power and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to My Scar Stories

  1. Ha ha. People don’t realize that the L.A. area is surrounded by rough, undeveloped, mountainous wilderness. While I was living in Pasadena I frequently encountered possums, skunks and coyotes (who don’t observe city-limit signs) A friend of ours lived in a beautiful home on the edge of the Arroyo Seco, downstream from JPL. Being bothered by noises in his ceiling, he discovered a family of raccoons had gnawed through about 3 inches of cedar shake-shingles, making a cozy nest in his attic insulation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I’m not surprised. The closer you get to the foothills the more wildlife you encounter. We lived near the foothills in Burbank, and my wife would often see coyotes trotting down the street when she jogged in the morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JOY journal says:

    🙂 I know — they look like they want to be petted. The varmints. My husband, a biologist, was attacked by a mama blue jay once after photographing her fledglings. Blood just everywhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They are all adorable. But check out the teeth … :/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mitch, dude, seriously? Really? man, what are we going to do with you …

    so did you ever regain use of that finger?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandi Staton says:

    I thought baby skunks were cute until I got sprayed by one. Up close. Like at my feet up close! I went to a birthday party that evening. That smell was some kind of awful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seems rats got a bad rap for the Black Death. The latest research indicates it was Asian gerbils who carried the fleas that were responsible for the plague.

    I live not quite in the middle of town, but I see my share of skunks, raccoons, and opossums, usually roadkill in my area. So far, the growing rat infestation that is about 2 miles away hasn’t made it my area yet, but it’s slowly working it way here. There are a few larger critters in the area, but those are rare. Haven’t seen any rattlesnakes which have made it a lot more north, around the Nebraska border.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Aw. I’m a “aren’t they cute from a distance” kind of fan of rodents. My husband’s dream pet is a rat. I’m definitely not sold on the idea. Especially now!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bill Sweeney says:

    You’re crazy 🙂 You should get a Go camera to wear on your head so you can post the videos 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Heidi Viars says:

    I always thought chipmunks were cute … until they kept stuffing my downspouts with stuff and such … nope … not a fan. I’ll send them your way … you could wear a go-pro and train them (in agreement with Bill here)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ms. M says:

    I literally laughed out loud! Awesome writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So apparently rodents have a bubble around them. If you stay outside the bubble, you can be friends. But as soon as you cross the bubble boundary, you’re dead meat.

    I dated a guy like that once. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Pam Webb says:

    Remind to show you my hamster scars. Hamsters are fur loosely wrapped around a pair of scissors called teeth.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Really enjoy your humor 🤪. Be safe out there today with God’s critters.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. If my mother had read this, she would be screaming about rabies.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Re-Farmer says:

    Oh, my! LOL

    I have a slightly different experience with a squirrel.

    When I was quite young, I noticed our dog was after something under one of our sheds in the yard, which has just a few inches of space under it. It turned out to be a squirrel. I must admit, I wasn’t the smartest of children when it came to certain things, but especially when it came to cute furry critters; I decided I wanted to catch it and pet it. With the dog holding its attention on one side of the shed, I would reach under and try to grab the squirrel from the other side. The closest I got was touching the tip of its tail.

    After a while, the youngest of my brothers came to see what was going on. Just a few years older than me (and just as questionable in intelligence as I was back then!), he decided to help me catch the squirrel. So then there was three of us surrounding the shed; me, my brother and the dog.

    Finally, the squirrel spotted and opening and went for it, dashing out from under the shed and up a tree. My brother, being part monkey, scampered up the tree after it. The squirrel ended up near the end of a branch with nowhere to jump. My brother grabbed the branch and shook it until the squirrel fell off, falling right into my waiting hands, below.

    It immediately attached itself to the flesh of my palm with its teeth. I immediately started screaming, jumping up and down and shaking my hand. There I was, flailing away with this squirrel being flung about until it finally let go, landed on the ground and ran away.


    In the blink of an eye, our dog pounced on the squirrel. Before we knew what happened, he had killed and eaten it.

    I felt pretty bad about that.

    My brother helped me staunch the blood pouring from my wound and patched me up.

    He did that a fair number of times during our childhood, and I returned the favour a few times, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. mitchteemley says:

    How did any of us survive to adulthood?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Saw first hand what a squirrel can do in an attic, not pretty. The only mouth my finger goes in is mine with fresh honey on it. Do love eggplant parmesan though. Peace my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    I’ve often thought that if squirrels had long, skinny tails like rats, we wouldn’t think they were quite so cute. But they are cute, so I don’t blame you for befriending one. The problem is, I guess they just don’t like being petted! (Love your comment about Nigel, by the way…..)

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Before we figured out where they were getting in and plugged the holes, we used to get mice and occasionally chipmunks in our house. Whenever one got in, the cats would get super excited and fight over it. My husband and I would always try to get it away from them and then let it go outside, but the cats really put up a fight. One day Figaro had a chipmunk in his mouth and absolutely would not let go of it, so my husband grabbed Figaro by the scruff, carried him out onto the deck, and then shook him by the scruff until he lost his grip and dropped the chipmunk, which then ran away. I wish that I had it on video, because it was hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

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