Campfire story

cropped-p1110791.jpgSnails are amazing they breathe with lungs, just like we do.

Never, ever put correction fluid on a snail’s shell.

My daughter was idly firing facts at me this morning, as I was trying to find something under my sink. A ping pong conversation started with my daughter saying.

“Strawberries,”….. muffled sounds as I reached in further……” not proper fruits, but bananas and pumpkins are.”

I replied, “What?” and so the conversation continued.

“Yeah, polar bears actually have black skin, and they are covered in translucent, hollow hairs.”

“Oh”

“It is believed Einstein died a virgin.”

“Pardon….Ummm, have you seen the cloth  I clean the floor with?”

“If you are in a room with 25 other people, there is a fifty percent chance that you will share your birthday with one of them”

“How many people?    Have you seen that green cloth?”  I asked again, she ignored me and continued.

“The average person walks the equivalent of five times around the world in a lifetime.”

“Where are you getting this stuff from?  How can a pumpkin be a fruit, that’s messed up my five a day.”

“From this site I follow. Garden snails have up to 14,175 teeth!”

I am too slow to answer.

stop shouting, he can’t hear you.

 

“Sharks have no swim bladder so they have to keep moving or they will die.”

At last I catch up. “What do you mean snails have teeth?”  I had given up looking for the cloth and was channeling sponge, trying to catch any piece of information.  I was thinking that if only one of these facts went in, I could have an enlightened conversation at some point in the future.  Would you like another strawberry?  You know or course; they are not a fruit, botanically speaking.

My daughter left the table, picked her bowl up and put it in the sink, carried on into her bedroom, and with a final,  “Female kangaroos have three vaginas” closed her door.

“Teeth, snails, are you sure?” I shout out after her.  But I am left in silence with too much new information in my head and nowhere to store it.land_snail_eggs_by_melvynyeo-d6utdqf

The snail fact caught my attention, as I had just read about eggs, and had discovered that snails lay them. I had not really considered how they reproduced before.  I was certain it was a successful method, given the amount of new growth disappearing from my garden each spring.  I do like snails and it had prompted me to do a little research at the time.  The teeth thing had not been mentioned. I already knew much about common garden snails.

The annoying song that stays in your head all day is called an ear worm.

 

When my daughter was a toddler she would ‘help mummy’ in the garden, pulling the weeds out, that I had just planted, making stone gardens from the pile I had just removed and her favorite game, sticking her finger into snail shells to make puppets.  There was no regard for whether anyone was home or not.  This resulted in a very unusual friendship with a rather cheeky starling. My daughter became his personal nutcracker and we made frequent, urgent trips to the bathroom.  For a couple of weeks, while I remodeled our old Victorian garden, snails became my daughter’s friends.  Together we learned.

snail-border-hsnail-border-h

  •  Snail slime is a thick mucus, that is so effective it allows snails to move upside down and over sharp objects without getting hurt.  It is incredibly hard to remove from a wriggling child’s finger is  and can be used as a face cream.  Ladies allow snails to crawl all over their faces.

    it’s true.
  •  Snails are deaf.  It did not matter how many times I shouted my warning to them, they never got out of my daughter’s way.
  •  Garden snails hibernate during the winter and live on their stored fat.  They make a little door of dried mucus and go to bed.  If you knock on this to say, wake up, and they do not answer, they end up being a puppet.
  •  Because of their moist skin, common snails are most active in damp weather and at night.  If you put them on a little flannel for sunbathing they die, even if you leave them a biscuit.
  • They are herbivores and feed on decaying vegetation, algae, fungi, lichens and plant leaves. As a part of their herbivorous diet, they often feed on garden plants.  Common snails have a symbiotic bacteria in their crop that enables them to digest cellulose – their own magic bullet. They have been known to feed on damp paper and cardboard.  When you put them in a box and bring them inside, so they do not get cold, they eat their way free.  This signals a new game called find the snail in mummy’s bedroom and as we have learned they can move upside down.
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Is that a snail on my ceiling?

Some years later, in  another house, I was once again changing the garden.  I could not bear to kill the snails, so I used to put them in a bucket to take them to the forest. My son and daughter used to take them out and used them to play snail races. Together we all learned.

  • Snails usually travel in irregular paths, often travelling in a circle, even if you put leaves at the finishing line.
  • Snails rely mainly on their sense of touch and smell when finding food because they have very poor eyesight.  It does not matter if you mark lanes, they do not stay in them.
  • Snails are nocturnal animals which mean they are more active at night. They do not like racing in the day.

It was a couple of years later, in yet another house and another garden remodel, that snails were eating my new plants.  I would pick them up and take them to the bottom of the garden, but felt that the same ones were back the next day, weird as my garden was over 100 meters long.  Upon investigation  we discovered.

  •  I had many speckled garden snails, the fastest of all garden snails, which can move up to 50 meters per hour, compared to 23 inches per hour of most other land snails. The children and I marked them with correction fluid to test the theory and we found out that if you mark a snail you are effectively putting a bulls eye on its shell for the morning birds.

Many years later in another house, in another country, I have recently found out that snails have 147, 175 teeth on their tongues and lay eggs.

snailSnails are wonderful, interesting creatures and worth a second look from their perspective. They have a place in our gardens, protect your plants organically if you can and think before you stand on one, they have teeth.

 

 

Is anybody out there listening to me??

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