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Would you let your kid pick up a dead worm?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

While walking the dog just now, DD saw a dead worm and wanted to pick it up.  I told her no, that we don't touch dead things.  But then I was thinking about all the naturalists and scientists, etc out there that say they started out by collecting road kill to study, that sort of thing.  It made me wonder if I'm stifling her natural inclinations and curiosities.  So, one the one hand, yeah, pick up the dead worm!  Study!  Explore!  Observe!  And then on the other hand, ew.  Germs and diseases.

So please, offer me some other opinions and the reasons behind them.


post #2 of 43

I'd let my kids pick up a live worm, so a dead worm would be ok too, unless it was covered with maggots or something. Other dead (larger) animals I would probably encourage less touching and more hands off exploration.

post #3 of 43
I'd be fine with it. I'd just make sure hands were washed as soon as we get inside.
post #4 of 43
eww. but probably yes.
post #5 of 43

A dead worm, yes, as long as said child was not interested in putting it in her mouth lol.gif  A dead squirrel however, I would not allow my child to touch.

post #6 of 43

I have neither the time nor inclination to prevent my kids from touching worms.  I'm actually more concerned about them touching live ones since those are more than likely going to come to a sad demise in the hands of my boys.  (And by sad I don't mean torture just being manhandled by a toddler).  I am often amazed at all matter of icky things they touch and explore.  But anything dead that that has fur or feathers I'd rather they leave alone or at least use a stick if they are insistent on touching it.  Of course, we're semi-rural out here and have a couple of acres of land so they come in contact with more wildlife than your average city kid.

post #7 of 43
Thread Starter 

Hmm...you know, I hadn't realized, but I did let her touch live worms last summer.  I wonder what it was about the "dead" part that made me say no? 

This whole thing reminds me of the time my brother and I found a dead raccoon in the road after a big snowstorm.  We dragged it into our front yard and "buried" it under the snow.  Wow, was our dad angry when the snow finally melted!

post #8 of 43

I never even thought of not letting my children touch dead worms or insects.  They love investigating things. 


I have talked to them about the diseases that dead birds, squirrels, sheep, cows, etc. carry and they don't touch those things, except for with a stick.

post #9 of 43

We don't touch dead things around here so I wouldn't have let my dd touch even a dead worm because she would go on to touch other dead creatures and insist that it is okay because she sees no difference between a worm and a dead badger.  My dd is the type to decide that if she can do one thing she can do something vaguely related and it is fine, and she does a lot of these vaguely related things when I am not around so sticking to one set rule is something I view as important in this case (she is a serious rule follower).  If your dd is not like that then making exceptions sometimes may work and that is something to consider.  Kids get to explore dead animals with the proper protective gear once they get into junior high and high school science so I don't think you are going to stifle her if you have her wait until then.  There are many ways to explore the world without poking around and exploring dead things.  City kids who never have a chance to play with road kill turn out to be scientists sometimes too (my friend from elementary school is one of them).

post #10 of 43

I'd call myself more of a city kid than a country kid and we have plenty of bugs and wild life lol. Yes, I would let DS pick up a dead worm. I'd be ooged out, but it would be fine. A dead squirrel? No way.

post #11 of 43

I can't think of a single logical reason to not touch a dead worm. With vertebrates, one should be a little more cautious, but we all touch them around here too. Last year we found a dead ermine in the garden and it was an unusual opportunity to see one up close and feel its fur. I could tell it hadn't been there long, so I wasn't concerned about bacteria at that point--especially just on the outer fur. As long as a dead animal isn't rotting or stinky, I'd allow cautious touching followed by hand washing. We deal with dead animals pretty regularly (we have chickens that occasionally are visited by predators and we have a farm cat that hunts mice, moles, rabbits, birds, and even that one ermine!).


For the record, I am a science teacher and I live on 80 acres in a rural area.

post #12 of 43

As long as he didnt try to eat it. 

post #13 of 43

Dead worms are fair game here. Honestly I prefer them because live ones tend to get loved a bit too much. 

post #14 of 43


post #15 of 43

Sure.  It would never occur to me not to let them. 

post #16 of 43

sure. as long as we weren't in a field of dirty needles or other nasty trash. which i don't know why we would be but ya know.. just trying to think of a reason why not. i think most kids would easily be able to comprehend the difference between touching a dead bug/worm and a dead animal. i know my son would and he is 2.5.

post #17 of 43

No but then I have a phobia of worms. I can't actually see my kids asking though, they're much more likely to bring it to me shouting "look what I found"

post #18 of 43

Yea, I would let them as long as they washed properly when done.

post #19 of 43

Yes.  but my son hates getting his hands dirty and has issue enough with playing in a sandbox so I doubt he would have any desire to touch a dead or alive worm.  I grew up on a farm and dead animals were a common occurance so it was never a big deal to me. 

post #20 of 43
Yeah, I would. I would probably draw the line at dead mammals-- I worry about disease. I don't know if there's much scientific basis to that worry. I just know that a dead worm doesn't squick me out like a dead deer or chipmunk or squirrel does. Oh, and dead fish are gross, because they stink.

You see, I'm not terribly objective about this. It would all be based on a momentary "does this make my skin crawl?" impulse. Dead worms, in my experience, are mostly dry and odorless, so they don't bother me.
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