Snail Call.

Source: SpongeBobPedia

Crack. I’ve stepped on a snail. I really try to avoid this, but accidents happen. I feel guilty because I like snails. I’ve always liked snails. When I was a kid I kept them as pets sometimes. I drove librarians nuts asking for books about snails, and I was disappointed in the lack of attention given to snails on the shows I watched, except for this one short Sesame Street cartoon:

Sesame Street was supposed to be educational so it bugged me when they tried to pass off blatantly false information. And I knew almost everything about this short snail poem was wrong:

Snails come out when it’s damp, especially when it’s rainy. And at night. They don’t go out for a “walk” on “fine sunny days”. If they did they’d end up  snaildried snails.

At least the last part about a snail not having to go back was correct based on my observations: snails would venture a long way from where they started and wouldn’t necessarily go back.

The problem is snails don’t carry their homes on their backs. One of the reasons they come out when it’s raining is because the nooks and crannies and little holes where they live get flooded. That shell is not a home. It’s a protective cover and part of their bodies. Snails must look at us and say, “Wait, your shell is inside your body? Under your skin? That’s weird.” Or at least they would if they looked at us and thought about us. I can’t fault Sesame Street for passing taffy when I’m anthropomorphizing snails.

snailAnother thing I learned about snails just by watching is that if you put two in a terrarium sooner or later they’ll start riding around on each others’ shells, and then you’ll have a cluster of tiny pearlescent eggs in a little hole in the dirt.

Later  very patient librarian would find me a book and I’d read that snails are hermaphrodites. This didn’t really bother me, and I even thought it would make life easier if humans were too. On fine sunny days when couples went out for a trek at the end of the date they’d both pick up the check.




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  1. Gina W.

    SNAIL KILLER! SNNNNNNAAAAAAAIILLLLL KILLLLLLLER! I’ve always wanted to shout that but had never had the opportunity before.

    I didn’t know that snails come out after the rain. I’m used to just seeing all the worms washed out. Which reminds me of an incident a few months ago. I was talking my son downtown so we could have lunch with my sister. When we opened the garage door there were a gazillion worms on the driveway. My son told me to walk carefully and not step on any worms because, “they might still have a long life left to live”. After I got him buckled into his carseat and we were on our way he told me, “I touched some of the worms”. Gah! I told him to not touch his mouth or face. The minute we got to the restaurant, before we even got seated, I hustled him to the bathroom to wash his hands. I mean, I don’t know why worm germs freaked me out so badly. I think it’s encoded in our Mom DNA.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad I could help you fulfill that ambition.

      Years ago I watched a program about a worm farm, and one of the farmers said worms are really very clean animals because tunneling through dirt scrubs them. I doubt that cleanliness lasts once they get out into the open, though, so you were right to make your son wash his hands. You and he might like my previous post The Worm Whisperer.

  2. Gina W.

    I read the Worm post. You and my son would get along swimmingly. Regarding worm farms, when my Mom was a teenager, she briefly dated her neighbor, Ronald McDonald, who ran a worm farm with his twin brother Donald. They didn’t go by their first names, but rather by their nicknames, Skeeter and Butch. I swear this is 100% true. We used to joke to Mom that she missed out on the chance to be the be the matron of a worm farm dynasty. I probably need to write about this in my own blog sometime.

  3. Rachelle

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