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.
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.