Friday, 25 January 2013

Back to the snails...

So how do you feel about snails? Are they a garden nuisance? A tasty snack with garlic butter and crusty French bread? Or a playmate.

DS#2 was very fond of snails as a small child. For weeks when he was about four I could not understand what it was encrusted onto his bed sheets. I'd wash them then lo and behold, the very next morning, more crusty stuff.

Then one morning he complained he could not find his friend Bob. Careful questioning revealed Bob was "his" snail who he took to bed every night. Every night Bob kept him company then when ds was asleep Bob slithered back to the garden ( apparently). But this morning ds couldn't find Bob in the garden. Ah. Mystery of the crunchy sheets explained.

So to save the rest of the local population of Gastropods from death by crushing we went to our local exotic pet shop and bought him a Giant African Land Snail. Just one. He loved his snail. Fed it cucumber. Researched how big it was going to grow. Then one day he asked what the white balls were in the tank. It looked like those polystyrene balls you find in bean bags. Internet research revealed they were most likely eggs! But how? We only had one snail!

Turns out giant African snails are hemaphrodites. The bigger one normally acts as the male and shoots the beautifully named "love darts" into the "female". Who hangs onto them for up to a year until she feels comfortable enough to lay eggs!

So thus began a time of hatching and breeding for our snail. We had a nursery tank but we had hundreds of tiny snails which were only going to get bigger. And very very soon they started laying eggs too! We had visions of the house being taken over by giant snails! We tried selling them, we put them on freecycle, and any visitors to our home were offered a cup of tea and a free giant African land snail or ten to take away with them.

In the end it all got a bit much and I had to dispose of the eggs to break the cycle. I told DS a man had come and given me £5 for them. He seemed happy and didn't ask too many questions.

The original snail lived for a few years and by the time he/she died ds#2 was not too bothered about having another one.

I learned my lesson about exotic pets and have since said a no to lizards, snakes, turtles and a variety of other fur-less creatures. I even said "thank you but no thank you" and returned the ant farm bought by a well meaning relative for ds #2's birthday.

We have since had a variety of cats, a large dog, a budgie and yet more fish. But more on them another time!




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