Caterpickles Cleans House a Third Time

An American Robin with his version of high tea. (Photo: Ryan Bushby via Wikipedia)

It’s been nearly a week since I answered any of The Five-Year-Old’s questions, and boy are they piling up! Must be time for another quickie Q&A session.

The Five-Year-Old: “Do worms have heads with eyes and a nose and a mouth?”

No. OK. Let me be more precise. Earthworms have a head–it’s the end of the worm closest to the clitellum–that little bulgy band around its middle. (Too much dirt on the worm to see the clitellum? Put the worm on a piece of paper and watch it squirm. Worms generally move head-first.)

Worms do have mouths to eat with, but they don’t really have eyes, just light-sensitive receptors in their skin that let them tell light from dark. They don’t really have noses either. Instead they have special sensors that can taste chemicals in the soil.

(Source: Earthworm Facts at BiologyJunction. They love worms!)

The Five-Year-Old: “What about hair, Mommyo?”

Worms don’t have hair. I think you’re thinking of a caterpillar.

The Five-Year-Old: “No, I’m not. Lowly has a hair under his cap.”

Hmm…. Do bristles count?

The Five-Year-Old: “Yes!”

OK, then. According to Earthworm Facts, worms have bristles paired in groups around their body that they use to move. But not really hair on their heads like Lowly does.

The Five-Year-Old: “Why would they draw Lowly like that if it’s not true?”

(At last! A question I can answer!) Because it’s cute.

The Five-Year-Old: “Oh. Do hedgehogs live in Texas?”

No. If you want to meet a hedgehog in its native habitat–

The Five-Year-Old: “I do Mommyo!”

–you’ll have to travel to Europe, Asia, or Africa. There are also hedgehogs in New Zealand, but they aren’t native to the region. In any case, to see a hedgehog in the wild you’ll need a passport.

The Five-Year-Old: “But will I need shots?”

The routine shots you’ve already gotten should be enough for New Zealand and Europe. But you will need more shots to visit Somalia and Tanzania in Africa (where the African hedgehog lives), and for Asia (recommendations vary by country).

The Five-Year-Old: “Let’s go to Europe and New Zealand then, Mommyo. I’ll pack the snacks.”

Sounds of rummaging in the pantry … then The Five-Year-Old: “Mommyo, will 200 snack bags be enough?”

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Ask the iPhone, Caterpickles Cleans House, Nature. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Caterpickles Cleans House a Third Time

  1. Susan says:

    We used to have a hedgehog living in the bushes in front of our old apartment (in Switzerland). He reliably cleaned the porch every night from all the crumbs my son dropped whenever we ate outside. He probably still misses us. They are nocturnal animals, but you can often see them at dawn. Yet another reason to come visit us!


  2. Lara Jo says:

    Man. I hope my kids are as smart as she is in 3.5 years!


  3. Pingback: “Why is it called that?”: The Dragon & Dragonfly Edition | CATERPICKLES

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