The psychological benefits of snails

I just finished reading “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. It is very charmingly written and one of those books where you learn lots painlessly – this time about land snails.

The author did not have such a painless time, however. She was laid low for years by a condition that took all her energy away, so that she had to spend a lot of time in bed. A friend gave her a snail, and she spent hours watching it. It made her happy and helped her endure her condition. After she recovered, she researched the lives of such snails and wrote the book.

It’s far from dry, and there’s humour, too. One of my favourite bits is when she is describing the radula (the structure that holds snails’ teeth which get continually replaced):

With only thirty-two adult teeth, which had to last the rest of my life,  I found myself experiencing tooth envy toward my gastropod companion. It seemed far more sensible to belong to a species that had evolved natural tooth replacement than to belong to one that has developed the dental profession.

The website even has a video where you can hear the snail munching on a lettuce. Lovely!

I don’t have my very own pet snail – or a pet anything – but I find this slug frequently on the front deck after rain. It’s the red triangle slug (Triboniophorus graeffei), our largest native land slug.

That hole is for breathing

It’s fascinating to watch the breathing hole open and close. Snail’s Tales has a description of how a slug breathes. Is it sheltering from the rain? It always moves to the dry area – something I would not expect from such a wet-looking creature. Perhaps it’s avoiding drowning.

This entry was posted in Animals on land, Books, Molluscs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The psychological benefits of snails

  1. Siobhan says:

    Urgh, is that an American slug? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that in the UK. The writing sample does sound charming and should the author wish to continue her study of snails, she is welcome in my garden at any time. I have an embarrassment of snails.

    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Siobhan,
      no, it is apparently a very common slug on the east coast of Australia where I live. It may be “very common”, but I ‘ve only recently seen this one a lot (I’m assuming it is the same one every time). I think it’s rather pretty.
      I definitely recommend the book, in which the land snail is American.

  2. Barbara Hasslacher says:

    Joy –
    It was a joy (nice play on words) to read your blog! Nice pics and easy to follow diary.
    Thanks for directing me to it.
    You should consider writing a book, as you have a nice style, and there must be short stories you could come up with. It must help being an editor. I know I have a lot of scribbles that I would like to do something more useful than to leave them as mere scribbles!
    Bye for now…
    Barbara in the Blue Mountains

    • Joy Window says:

      Thank you for the compliments, Barbara. If you mean fiction short stories, I don’t “do” fiction. This blog is about the limit of my writing – wish I had time for more than just photos! Reading other people’s writing for a living changes the way one thinks about communication, that’s for sure.

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