Nature Photography, Snail


Wild Snails Eating
Wild land snails eating bits of apple and lettuce – this photo makes them look a lot larger than they really are. They are pretty tiny.

OK, don’t laugh…  I recently read the book The Sound of A Wild Snail Eating. Well, I actually listened to it because I have trouble reading.  It was a very interesting book, fascinating, really.  I highly recommend it!

After I read the book, I decided I wanted to experience the fascination of snails myself.  I bought two snails with a kit that had soil, food, sticks, stones and a little tiny flower pot for them to “hide” in.  I was so curious about being able to hear them eat.  These are wild land snails indigenous to the western US, as well as other US regions.  They have over 2600 teeth, and they eat all kinds of things–lettuce, carrots (they love carrots) egg shells, cuddlefish bones, and apples.  Although some articles say they like berries, I haven’t had much luck with them eating those.  I just cut everything into small pieces and put the food in a small shell.  I have another shell for water, and they love water.  Sometimes I see one of them just laying in the water, and sometimes I see them just drinking.  They also chomp on the shells.

I wish I could upload a video here so you could heart them eating.  It’s pretty amazing.  I can’t hear it with my ears, but the camera on the phone picks it up clearly.  It sounds like hundreds of tiny little jackhammers.  I was totally blown away the first time I recorded them.

Their “antennae” are really their eyes.  If you look closely at the snail that is fully emerged, you can see the dark spots at the end of those.  They have another lower set that is how they smell–and they have a good sense of smell.  They have no ears and cannot hear, so they navigate with with the use of their tentacles.

Snails don’t need much TLC.  I feed them a little each day, clean up the food and water shells (they tend to leave slime on these–well they slime pretty much everything…  And the soil sticks to the slime.  I like their food and water dishes to be clean.  About every two weeks I give them a “bath.”  I put them in a shallow dish with a little water, pour more water over them, and swish them around to clean them off.  You have to wet your hands before you handle them so they don’t stick to your hands.  And, of course, you wash your hands after handling them.  I spray them with water a couple of times a day so they don’t dry out.

If you are looking for something new and interesting to do, read the book and try taking care of a snail or two.  They move slow, so it’s not like you would want to watch them all day–no racing around here.  But, when you feed them, they are really interesting!