The spectacularly gooey, the fantastically beautiful, the wonderfully smart, SNAIL!
|I'm petting a Giant African Land Snail!|
I also love Snails because of their super cool tentacles. A lot of land Snails have four tentacles on their head: two "eyestalks" with little eyes on top, and two smelling tentacles. These tentacles are retractable, meaning the Snail can pull them inside its head!
Snails move around using the muscles in their "foot", which is the underside of their long, squishy body. They also have tiny little hairs, called cilia, on their foot, which help them move and also feel things as they go along.
|He doesn't even get hurt!|
These super cute creatures leave a shiny trail of slime behind them. Sometimes, after a rainfall, you can find these tracks on sidewalks and fences, and see what the Snails have been up to.
|Working with Giant African Snails in 2009.|
A lot of land Snails eat plants, such as leaves and fruit, and some also eat other animals. Either way, these gooey animals need calcium in their diet to keep their shell strong (kind of like us humans need calcium to make our bones healthy). I've worked with a few different species of Snails, such as Giant African Land Snails, Moon Snails (who live in the ocean), and Dog Whelks (who also live in the ocean), and they all have different cool features.
|A Snail party.|
The Giant African Land Snails are exactly what their name suggests: Giant! They really like to eat fruit and a lot of people like to keep them as pets. Many countries no longer allow these Snails to be brought in, in fear that these big creatures will eat a lot of the local plants and animals. Some people even consider them "pests", but I would love to have a hundred of these Snails hanging out in my backyard!
|Me holding a Moon Snail in Summer 2010.|
The Moon Snail is another big Snail, but this one lives in the ocean. Moon Snails eat other shelled animals, such as Mussels, by puncturing a hole in the shell. These big gooey animals like to burrow in the sand to hide and find food.
Dog Whelks are also Snails that live in the ocean, but these guys prefer to live on rocks,
instead of sand. They have long, pointy shells, and the kind I worked with had spotted bodies. They also eat other animals through a long tube called a "proboscis", which is just like a straw that we use for drinking.
Snails are my favorite animal for a lot of reasons, more than just the ones I've shared above. So when our Snail friends appear again in the Spring and Summer (they hibernate in the colder seasons!) please be careful of where you step, and avoid crushing these super adorable animals. A Snail with a broken shell cannot survive, although it can repair a small crack.
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