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To let my 3yo pick up slugs and snails in the garden?

(63 Posts)
peanutbuttersarnies Sat 11-May-13 18:32:39

3yo ds is always interested in slugs snails, beetles, flys etc. I imagine like any other 3yo. When he found a snail in the garden the other day he likes to hav a good look. Then the other day he started picking up by the shell. I find it a bit squeamish but try not to let it show. I pretend to be interested too. I try to tell him what they like best and where to put it. He trys to feed it leaves. And basically treats it like his pet for half an hour. Hoping hes made it happy. then the other day he came up to me with a slug in his hand to show me. As much as I don't particularly like the thought myself I don't like to discourage him. I don't want him getting phobias of creepy crawlies and slimy things. I let him hold them as long as he's not hurting them.
But today in the garden dh started trying to implement a look but don't touch policy with insects etc. Ds was a bit confused then obviously.
What sort of policy do other people take? Aibu? He knows to stay away from wasps and bees.

HDEE Sat 11-May-13 18:33:50

Look but don't touch. My children would squash anything they tried to pick up and squashed slug...well, lets not go there.

Tommy Sat 11-May-13 18:34:13

sounds perfectly normal to me!
as long as he doesn't hurt them which it doesn't sound as if he would

Sirzy Sat 11-May-13 18:35:28

I would go for look don't touch. I think its good to realise that we have to respect nature a bit.

exexpat Sat 11-May-13 18:38:32

I let mine pick up snails, frogs etc, making sure to teach them to be gentle - no squashing, deliberate or otherwise. If you read about the childhood of most famous naturalists, they all started their fascination with nature by catching and studying creepy-crawlies and small animals. Snail-racing was a major entertainment in my childhood, and my DCs were fascinated the year we caught two tadpoles and watched them turn into tiny frogs before releasing them.

GilmoursPillow Sat 11-May-13 18:38:59

If he's not hurting them I don't see a problem. It presents you with a perfect opportunity to talk about all animals, how important they are and how we should respect them and not hurt them even slimy little fuckers like slugs and snails.

As long as he knows to wash his hands properly afterwards I can't think of any negative points to this.

headinhands Sat 11-May-13 18:40:44

I go for a 'touch but put back after a while and back where you found it' and explain how our hands are much too warm to hold them for too long as they like damp dark places. And also stress how gentle we have to be.

missmapp Sat 11-May-13 18:42:08

My two have always done this- made little homes for creatures and 'fed' them with leaves etc- it was a good time to teach them about respecting nature aswell as allowing them to get dirty and explore the garden. They always released the pets after a short time and no one was ever hurt!!

rambososcar Sat 11-May-13 18:48:43

"I would go for look don't touch. I think its good to realise that we have to respect nature a bit."

This is my view too.

exexpat, re frogs and toads, you shouldn't allow your child to pick them up. It stresses them and because their skin is permeable the oils and minerals on a child's hands can be absorbed into the frog or toad, which is harmful to them, as is the heat from dry hands. If you really have to pick them up it should be an adult who does it with wet, powder free latex gloves, for as little time as possible.

peanutbuttersarnies Sat 11-May-13 19:06:05

Thanks, some good suggestions here. And yes he is very gentle by his own nature, so never harms them.

confusteling Sat 11-May-13 19:11:45

Releasing them is best - I was a bit of a worm killer as a child mind you, apparently I got a few earthworms and stuck them on the roof of my father's car, on a very hot day. When they shrivelled up my mum says I cried, then threw them in a bowl of water to make them better... I then showed everyone from school how two worms could be made (but I don't advocate that, they do survive but I imagine they won't for very long with a gaping wound..)

I also used to gather beetles - especially big ones, we had a lot of stag type beetles. I caught one in a bucket once, and carried it around the garden for hours frightening everyone. Beetles can be good as they can be quite big, and can be more difficult to find - thus more of a challenge. Generally from experience they seemed to cope OK with the upheaval..

Sometimes the best thing can be to recreat a similar environment for the short time he'll want to look at them, e.g. tupperware with earth, grass etc which he can place the insect in..

Can be really great fun, and it's not as if there's a shortage of books etc if he finds it fun! Maybe look into getting a magnifying glass and a spotter's notebook etc?

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Sat 11-May-13 19:13:29

I still remember my cousin trying to convince me to eat a slug. She thought they were delicious. I declined.


hiddenhome Sat 11-May-13 19:24:07

Please don't let him play with these particular beasties. They can spread parasites and fungus which can lead to fungal nail infections.

MousyMouse Sat 11-May-13 19:25:41

but try to teach them to be gentle.

Mumsyblouse Sat 11-May-13 19:27:12

I thought it was quite normal as a small child to keep a snail in a jar iwith some leaves for an afternoon before releasing it! Now I am not so keen- are you sure snails have horrid parasites on or just big fat slugs?

Mumsyblouse Sat 11-May-13 19:28:21

And I still rescue worms if I see them wriggling on tarmac or in a puddle, which I'm sure looks odd, but I hate them to shrivel up or drown needlessly (many happy hours with gardening grandpa who told me worms were a gardener's best friend).

ballroomblitz Sat 11-May-13 19:31:44

I thought slugs and snails contained something that was harmful (or is that just for dogs?)

I don't mind ds picking up insects but I tell him that he has to be careful not to hurt them and put them back on the ground.

confusteling Sat 11-May-13 19:34:55

I didn't know snails/slugs could carry infections, been picking them off plants etc for years! Suppose wearing latex gloves and washing hands might help then?

gobbledegook1 Sat 11-May-13 19:35:02

Snails can carry lung worm, not sure if that affects people but it does affect dogs, as long as hands are thoroughly washed afterwards though I don't see an issue.

I'm happy for my little boy to pick up whatever horrid creature he likes as long as he doesn't bring it near me (bug phobic) and washes his hands when he's done getting dirty.

Naysa Sat 11-May-13 19:42:19

You can get a bug veiwer toy. I had one. I can't remember the name blush

It's a clear plastic box that has a neck strap and the lid has three magnifying bits on top. This means he can have a really good look with crushing the insect. I think argos might sell them.

PipkinsPal Sat 11-May-13 19:43:46

Playing with all types of creepy crawlies and beasties is normal development. Forget about "diseases" as long as they don't eat them, wash their hands before licking their fingers or eating they will be fine. I used to play with, and squash insects shock and I'm still here and healthy. I believe children should be exposed to all sorts of "horrors" like mud and eating grass etc, I once tried sand. Never did us any harm. My exH once told me when he was a toddler he was sitting on the lawn, his Mother called him and he turned around with a worm hanging from his mouth!

Boomba Sat 11-May-13 19:47:45

Look and touch. DON'T gouge them out and eat them hmm

ballroomblitz Sat 11-May-13 19:50:56

I used to eat worms too pipkins . My parents love to show me the photos smile

hiddenhome Sat 11-May-13 22:10:57

They can spread infection. Dh's aunt used to clear the slugs from her garden by picking them up. She ended up with a bad fungal mail infection and ended up on anti fungal medication for months.

hiddenhome Sat 11-May-13 22:11:19

Nail sorry

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