Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Case of the Horny Snails

This post is called "the Case of the Horny Snails" but it could just as easily be called "The R Rated Garden".

I had never wondered how snails were born until I moved here. It is fair enough to say that I knew they didn't grow on the plants they were so attracted to, but honestly, who stops to think about how they are made?

Then we moved to this house.

There are snail babies everywhere. It was the site of a snail barely 1.5cm long climbing up the window that made me stop and think. Funnily enough, once I had noticed one baby I saw them everywhere. Little shells that look like tiny pebbles on the pathway, clusters of little shelled bodies gathered together as though they were at school and adult snails blocking my way. I have never seen so many snails in one place before. They were even locked together on the steps up to my front door.

So how did they all get there? How were they born? Yes, it is a strange question that occupied me. I found that snails can fertilise themselves but they also love to mate. They follow slime trails and track down potential partners. Yes, it can take days! Actual mating can take a while too. (There is a shocker for you!) They press part of their slimy 'feet' together and caress each other for hours before exchanging the other form of bodily fluid. Considering how long it can take to mate and the number of baby snails that are with us, I think we have the horniest snails known to man residing in our front garden.

Oh and now I know what they were up to on my front steps. In broad daylight, too! Our house is a seething, hotbed (snigger) of erotic snails.

So, in honour of our horny snails I offer you these tidbits of snail trivia.

Heliculture is the science of growing snails for food
Snails reply mainly on their sense of touch and smell when finding food, having very poor
eyesight.
Snails cannot hear.
When a snail goes into its shell it can seal the entrance.
Snails are hermaphrodites.
Snails can lay around 50 eggs. (Heaven help my garden)
The snails shell grows as the snail does.
The biggest snail of all is the Australian Sea Snail which can weigh over 15kgs.

I would guess that, having read this post, you won't see snails in quite the same light again. Don't worry about going at a snails pace in your daily life - it might be more exciting that you thought!