Anesthetizing earthworms

Fournier, Judith JFOURNIER at
Mon Apr 8 14:53:00 EST 1996

>Does anyone have suggestions for anesthetizing earthworms before
>dissecting?  My biology classes put the worms in alcohol for 90 seconds
>before dissection and are able to see hearts beating and peristalsis
>occurring.  Any research on pain perception of earthworms, or better
>ways to anesthetize the worms?  Thanks

Hello Sandy,
     Thank you for your humane request.  I do believe that earthworms do 
feel pain.  Ninety seconds in alcohol is not enough for proper relaxation. 
 Using alcohol, it is best to add the relaxant a few drops or crystals at a 
time until the worm no longer responds to stimulus.   It takes about 10 
minutes but is much better.  An alternative to alcohol (highly flammable), 
is to use Manganese sulfate, in a 25% saturated solution.   It can take 
longer and may not be as good as the alcohol drop method.

     Judy Fournier
     Annelids Collection
     Canadian Museum of Nature

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