The undead snail

29 May

After we released Cinderella Alexandra, following metamorphosis from caterpillar to moth, Hannah wanted a new random insect for her bug cage. Instead, we saw a snail and figured hey, why not?

At first, the pet snail was great.  Every morning, we would check to see where the snail was, and if there were any new holes in the lettuce or leaves we put in there for food.  The kids loved watching her (or him. Or it. They are hermaphrodites after all).

But goodness they poop!  Long, thin snail poop soon appeared all over the walls of the transparent cage.  Slime was everywhere.  Not that they can help it, since they secrete mucous to aid locomotion.

Still, I kept feeding the thing, and it kept pooping and sliming.  A week or so later, we started slowly moving things to the new house, and the snail remained on top of the TV cabinet, above my line of sight, and out of my mind.  I forgot to feed and water it.

By the time we moved, the snail had been in the same spot in the top right corner of the cage for about a week.  No new poop appeared, and no slime trails led me to believe that it moved around whilst we slept.

I didn’t particularly want to tell Hannah that I killed her snail, so we just brought the cage to the new house and didn’t say anything.  Hannah didn’t know the difference.  She didn’t notice the lack of poop or movement.  To her, the snail had a favourite spot and liked to hang out there.

Weeks went by but the snail still didn’t move.  Through the clear sides of the cage, I could see a shrivelled up snail deep inside the shell.

“Mommy, look, a snail!” Hannah said when we were outside one day.

“We can’t have it here, it’ll eat all of my lettuce.” I said to Hannah “Where should we put it? In the front yard?”  I would have put it in the bin had Hannah not been there, because stepping on them makes that horrible cracking sound of death when the shell breaks, and gives me the heebie-jeebies.

growing lettuce in a pot

I know those snails just want to eat my lettuce

“Let’s put it in the cage with the other snail!” Hannah said excitedly.

“Errr….ok,” I told her as I guiltily retrieved the cage from her room.  I casually knocked the dead snail off the corner of cage after I put the new snail in, hoping Hannah wouldn’t notice.  I’m not sure why I did it, I just did.  We gave the new snail some lettuce and sprinkled water in the cage.

“I see the fail?” Daniel asked the next morning.  For some reason, he decided that snails should be called fails.

As I put the cage on the dining table, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.  I had to quadruple check the cage to make sure I was seeing correctly.  The new snail was at the bottom of the cage, feasting on lettuce.  But there in the top right hand corner of the cage, was the dead snail, it’s tentacles and foot sticking out of the shell, moist and no longer shrivelled up inside.

I checked the spot where the dead snail landed when I knocked it off the side of the cage.  Gone. It had been over a month, but the snail was alive once again.

How. The. Heck?  Turns out, snails hibernate if conditions are unfavourable.  They just retreat in their shells and wait until food and water are readily available.

They can also live for years. Yes, years.   Sometimes, up to 15, or longer in captivity.  Sigh, I never thought I’d be looking after snails for so long.

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Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson

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3 Responses to “The undead snail”

  1. Kristen June 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I learned that when my kids were into snails! It makes me feel bad for all the ones that get casually killed – they’ve probably made it through several years and then bam!

    • Mommy Adventures June 11, 2013 at 5:34 am #

      I know, right? People are like “oh dear, I’ve killed the snail…I’ll just throw it in the bin.” Which then gets compacted in a garbage truck…. Although they do eat everyones flowers/lettuce/etc., and they are the first host carriers of a lot of parasites, so I don’t feel too bad. Plus they don’t have a brain.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The bug cage | Mommy Adventures - February 14, 2014

    […] seem to have accidentally killed all of the snails that were occupying Hannah’s bug cage by not feeding and watering them, and leaving the cage […]

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