According to a 2017-2018 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 68% of U.S. households own a pet. Does yours?
What is it that makes having a pet so special? If you have a beloved furry, feathered, or scaled friend, or had one as a kid, you know quite well. The benefits of pet ownership are far-reaching and deeply impactful.
But is that true when your pets are thousands of wiggly worms? It sure is.
Today I’m going to demonstrate why red wiggler compost worms are the ideal pet for any household, especially those with children. Plus, I’ll show you how to begin today if you decide worms are right for you or that special child in your life!
Ever thought of having pet worms?
One of the most natural and positive effects of pet ownership comes from the emotional bonds we form with our pets. It’s through judgment-free relationships like these and others that we can develop a greater sense of self and contentment in our lives.
Just like raising other animals for pets, raising compost worms gives a child ownership of something that requires some level of quality care, attention, and decision making at times. Yet, they are still really easy to care for. Aside from being the easiest pets, they also have the greatest positive impact on their environment.
These pets, in particular, serve their owners especially well. Compost worms turn household waste from food prep, junk mail, and yard waste into all natural fertilizer. Small-batch, chemical-free soil booster gives indoor and outdoor plants all the balanced nutrients they need to thrive year round.
Having pets help give some structure to an owner’s life. The basic responsibilities of care provide an opportunity for a daily routine as well as a sense of accomplishment. For a child, jobs, like gathering kitchen scraps and feeding their worms, can teach the virtues of responsibility, caring, and about working for, or earning, a desired result.
Did you know, people with pets tend to enjoy better physical and mental health? Pets help relieve stress as you interact with them, care for them, and observe their nature. The smiles and belly laughs you get from children handling worms is evidence enough. The added benefits of recycling waste to feed the worms and restoring the soil with their natural casts (poop) make the combination of feeling good and doing good with pet worms a very healthy hobby.
One of the often overlooked benefits of raising worms is the unifying power it has to connect us with others who enjoy red wigglers. A child’s sense of citizenship within a larger community helps them develop social and environmental awareness.
In particular, we have seen worm composting school programs do a wonderful job of teaching children how they can each do their part to impact their community by reducing waste. These curriculums help children work together (recycling lunch waste for worm food), to create a massive impact.
No matter why red wigglers become a person’s pet of choice, everyone can use them to reduce waste and benefit their environment. Together, our combined efforts at recycling and restoring the earth create a special unity among us.
Why Worms Make the Best Pets for Children
For children, raising small living creatures like red wigglers offers a new perspective. The small see themselves as big. They are moved to engage with curiosity, purpose, and the confidence to explore the world around them. It’s empowering, safe, simple, and environmentally sound as well.
Composting worms do the very important and impressive work of transforming food and yard waste into natural organic fertilizer. But while they work, they also serve as pets for young children who are fascinated, curious, and want to learn. In the growing mind of a child, caring for pet worms becomes the doorway into a wealth of discovery and growth in many areas.
From an early age, some children have a special tenderness and nurturing nature that is well supported by maintaining a worm bin full of cocoons, juvenile, and mature red wigglers. Fortunately, however, worms require very little in the way of active management and nurturing. This makes them especially forgiving of a child’s sometimes loose schedule, or memory, as the case may be.
Ready, Set, Go
Worms are one of the very few pets that don’t need potty training or to be cleaned up after. In fact, their casts (poop) are a valuable resource in and of themselves. Luckily for worms, when nature calls they do their business without skipping a beat, going outside, or needing a human to pick up after them. That means no changing litter pans, no standing out in the rain or the cold, no getting on your hands and knees to wipe up the floor. What a relief!
Free to Feed
Unlike the children who eat the fruits and veggies that make scraps for worms, these guys are free to feed. With a diet consisting of decomposing organic matter, yard waste, and food scraps, a worm’s diet is easy to supply with leftovers from your kitchen, junk mail, and things you can find outside.
Nature is the Best Teacher
Compost worms are also the ideal subjects for cross-curricular learning. Students who raise pet worms can learn the basics and more about all these relevant topics:
- The natural life cycle
- The importance of death and decomposition
- Resource management
- Garbage and landfills
- Biodegradable and non-biodegradable items
Let’s Not Forget Fun!
Kids especially enjoy the sheer joy of playing with worms in the dirt. These gentle creatures make people smile, laugh, and engage in a deeper way than with paper or screens alone. Those joyful moments spent watching and feeling the squirm of a worm can be priceless, yet it hardly costs a thing.
Pacifiers for Pet-Reluctant Parents
When it comes down to it, sometimes it’s more about the logistics than the love. So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Where can I keep pet worms?
That’s an important question because where you keep them is it, the only place where the worms live, eat, poop, and reproduce. They do it all within one fairly small and contained system.
In a closet, under the bed, a desk, or in a corner, almost anywhere will do. They don’t need a room with a view or even any light at all. With such a small footprint, your worm herd can be discretely hidden or kept in plain sight. It’s really up to you.
My children use the Worm Factory 360 that we keep in the kitchen, under my desk. That way it’s close to the food, close to the back door for harvesting (worms or compost), and tucked away where it’s not underfoot. When the weather is nice, I bring the entire Worm Factory 360 right outside. That way, the kids can feed and play with their worms outside in the shade without worrying about making a mess.
What will it cost?
Worms are incredibly inexpensive pets. A basic starter colony costs only about $25. For that, you can have a single pound of worms (1000 worms) safely shipped right to your door. If that number sounds shocking, remember red wigglers are much smaller than the typical earthworms you are likely most familiar with.
In red wiggler terms, a pound is only about 2 cups worth. And they are all you need to start a colony that will continue to reduce waste and produce natural fertilizer for as long as you like!
Feeding them is no sweat either. Food scraps, junk mail, and yard waste are what pet compost worms eat to fill their bellies. Did you notice that each of those items are FREE sources of What Red Wigglers Can Eat? That keeps your pet feeding bill at $0! Add to that zero vet visits, zero medications, no clothing, no litter, nor toys and you’re still at an overall pet-maintenance cost of $0!
The one place you may choose to invest would be in the quality of “housing” you get for your worms. Worm composting systems range in price and offer quality and features accordingly.
You’ll find that the least expensive option is to reuse a storage tote with holes drilled into it for proper drainage and aeration. But if you’d rather have something designed with drainage, air flow, harvesting, and population growth in mind, use something that comes ready to go.
All-in-one systems like the tower-style worm composters are great options for anyone. In particular, children find these easiest to use because of their durability, height, capacity, and easy-to-use lid, spigot, and hand tools.
Parenting with Style
Be the coolest parent on the block and start the pet composting worm craze where you live! Parents who give their children pet-care responsibilities prepare them for greater things ahead. Here’s one way to give a kid a pet that teaches them well, and won’t leave you regretting your decision.
Beware of Pets
Knowing which pet is best for you and your family takes some effort. Some pets can’t be trusted. Some pets aren’t safe for children. Some pets cause damage to their surroundings.
Worms, however, remain confined, silent, odor-free, and small no matter how many years old the colony gets. What’s more, far from being harmful, red wigglers improve, protect, and enhance their environment. With waste management being their first awesome skill, providing soil-restoring fertilizer is a second amazing quality these guys have mastered.
There’s Always More to Explore
Worm composting with your children is a really cool opportunity that has a way of leading to other nature-inspired activities you can share, like gardening and fishing. It’s the amazing compost that opens the door to gardening and the plentiful worms which make fishing an almost anytime sport. Some people even turn their worms into money makers. Who knows what your pet worms will inspire!
Here at The Squirm Firm, we support worm farmers and hobbyists of all ages. Together we create more than 61,500 pounds of compost EACH WEEK. That is a lot of diverted trash and organic fertilizer being made by pet worms in homes like yours. Will you join the worm composting movement too?
All it takes is your first pound of worms and somewhere safe to keep them. An old storage tub can suffice, or try a Worm Factory 360 for a system that makes worm composting extra easy. If you like, The Squirm Firm can help you out with all of it. We have all the supplies, guidance, and follow up support you need. For more on getting started, check out Get Started Worm Farming: A Beginners Guide.
Happy worm composting!
I have done it wrong, please help me,.
I put nothing in the bottom tray. On the top tray I put the bedding soil and food scraps..how do I now fix my problem?.
Worms are still alive!!..
I feel so embarrassed to say this..
You mentioned cardboard egg cartons. I have seen them in purple, blue and of course gray. Are the colored cartons still good for the wigglers. Thanks
The Mick, Great question. I couldn’t find any info on what type of dye is used for those paper egg cartons. My guess however, is that it should be okay. There are dyes used in many of the papers considered safe to use when creating bedding for worms. The wee amounts of dye any one worm is likely to take in can be considered pretty harmless. I tend to be more concerned with the bleaching chemicals used in the whitest papers. For those I just rinse before using. The same method may remove some of the dye too. Thanks for asking!
I have a Worm Factory 360 that I started a little over a month ago. I put the single layer of newspaper before setting up the worm tray per the instructions. At this point the bottom bin is about 1/3 full of worms and bedding that is breaking down nicely and everyone appears happy. But I always find several worms in the catch/drainage tray and on the worm ladder wallowing around in the castings. I keep scooping them up and putting them into the bin again. Is this normal? Should I be concerned and if so, how do I remedy this? I am planning to go away for a week at the end of September and worry that they may die down there without food. Can they really climb that ladder and get back into the bin?
Hi Bobbe, sounds like things are off to a great start! Okay, first of all, yes, it’s normal for the worms to go down into the catch area. They are able to climb right back up if they want to find food. Once you have more bedding and compost for the worms to hang out in, you may find fewer worms are hanging out down there. When you go away, just make sure the bedding is adequately moist and that they are fed enough for your absence. If you come back to find a few down below, you can just keep doing what you’ve been- putting them back up into a tray. Enjoy!