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.
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.
A dead worm, yes, as long as said child was not interested in putting it in her mouth A dead squirrel however, I would not allow my child to touch.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
As long as he didnt try to eat it.
Dead worms are fair game here. Honestly I prefer them because live ones tend to get loved a bit too much.
Sure. It would never occur to me not to let them.
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.
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"
Yea, I would let them as long as they washed properly when done.
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.
That. Dead bugs don't bother me nearly as much as dead animals.
... i take it you don't take your kids fishing? ;)
if you're speaking of earthworms (like when they die in the rain and lie there limply on the sidewalk) then no one's going to catch anything from them. They're pretty clean, and very good for the earth-- alive and dead.
i could maybe understand some hesitation if your kid's not old enough to distinguish, say, a worm that is in a pile of dog poo (sorry, sorry) from an earthworm. but if otherwise, i'd even suggest that's a great jumping off point to do a little research on the thing and stimulate that instinct-- look at pictures online, and read what they do. you can even make an earthworm farm if you're so inclined, in a terrarium style setup.
my kid's too little to know the dog-poo worm from the earth worm, but i've encouraged her to touch live ones already (earthworms that is).. and we pick up little dead beetles, etc. sometimes to admire them, too. i wouldn't put 'dead things' in the category of hands-off, but i'm usually there (or dh is) to guide good choices.
I've given it a bit more thought, and apart from maggot-filled things, I think my natural response is "ok, touch it." Sadly, I think the thing that stopped me was that someone else was out on the sidewalk nearby and I worried that they'd think I was a "bad" mom if I let her touch a dead worm. I hate that I actually stop to consider those things...
Oh, and hildare- thank you! I LOVE the idea of a worm farm- I know my daughter will be super thrilled with one of those!!
We poke at things with sticks, like others have said, if it is really gross or if it is big. But ds picks up all manner of bugs both dead and alive. By the time he is done with them they seem to all end up dead anyway...
Either way I wouldn't care about touching a dead worm unless it was really disgusting looking...like when they dry up and get all crusty, ew.....but after a rain storm or something that would be fine.
we used to have a frog that lived in our garden and he was our free range pet lol....we spent all summer chasing him and catching him, putting him in various containers for observation and then letting him back out. Ds is not a particularly fastidious handwasher and he was in and out of the house constantly, but no one got sick from handling the frog and we learned all about frog life cycles and related science. It was a very "unschooling" ish type thing and ds loved it. I could totally see the same learning opportunity happening with a dead worm.
Dead worm? Sure. Dead bird or mammal? Probably, if it's not too disgusting. I've let the kids pick up dead birds before, and I think maybe they've also had the chance to handle things like moles, shrews, or mice - just picking them up by the tail for a look, or feeling the fur. There really isn't much risk of disease transmission in most cases, especially if you're not poking around inside the animal but only touching its outside.
When I was four, I had a dried worm collection.
Even now, I actually find the dried out ones much less icky then the umm... fully hydrated dead worms.
Sure, but only because either there aren't worm killing horrible diseases that can be passed on to humans, or I'm too naive to know about them. ;-) But no to all the other dead animals.
i got the idea from my second grade teacher-- she had a carboy with soil in it and earthworms inside.. you could see the trails they made in the soil. I think they get most nutrition from the soil but they will make compost from scraps if you drop things on top. so cool!
when I worked at a commercial plant nursery I would regularly waste time by walking around and picking up half petrified worms who were dying from being in the sun. I would dump them in a nice moist flower pot and cover them with soil so they had a chance...This was when I was 20, I love worms. They are super important and if you have ever been on a night crawler hunting trip after a nice rain storm you know how fun it is to try and catch those buggers...ah childhood memories flooding back.