Sunday, 8 May 2011

I want to thank you for putting me back in my snail shell!

This cute little snail crawled across my patio yesterday afternoon.

I jokingly called to it "Watch out, there are thrushes about!"

It continued to crawl across the concrete as blackbirds, starlings, dunnocks, robins and sparrows swarmed to the scattered bird food, ignoring the snail's slow progrss among them.

That made me want to Google what predators the snail actually has to look out for in its life, depending on what species it is or where it lives. I was amazed how many creatures actually kill snails!

Top of the list, not surprisingly, the human race. Killing them. Cooking them. Eating them. Stepping on them. Crushing them. Killing them with pellets. Poisoning them. Murdering them.

Then there's the animals who eat different varieties of snail to survive:

Beetles, Leeches, Caterpillars, Frogs, Snakes, Toads, Hedgehogs, Field Mice, some fish (Trout for example), Firefly larvae (Glowworms), Turtles, Spiders, other Snails,  Cats and Dogs (who often kill them by playing with them rather than for food), Red Fox, Moles, Shrews, Squirrels,  and many birds, including the Thrush (who uses a handy stone as an anvil to hammer the shell till it gets to the juicy bits!) Blackbirds (who will steal the juicy bits once the Song Thrush has cracked the shell open),  Ducks, Geese, Chickens, Ravens, Gulls, Doves, Pigeons, Grouse, Jays, Crows, Falcons and other birds of prey, Storks and other waders.

Snail is the ultimate fast food if you've got the right can-opener!

Thank goodness that snails can breed so abundantly! They mate quite frequently all through the year and can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time! That means they can not only survive as a species but also provide nutrition and survival for other creatures.

But we need to watch where we're putting our clodhopping feet, all the same!

Quote in title is from the song  'Snail Shell' by They Might Be Giants. Their song is metaphorically using the idea of the snail to express how put-downs from those who try to crush us make us withdraw sometimes into our own inner 'Snail Shell'.

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