Pet Tips ‘n’ Tales: Snail Mail

Andrea takes Turbo for a walk.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  

Harold R. McAlindon

 

This telling tale arrived by snail mail, but make no bones about it, the pets in question do not have bones. As a matter of fact, they don’t have fur, attract fleas or incur veterinary bills.

This is the second time since the 1894 inception of the Cottage Grove Sentinel, Pet Tips ‘n’ Tales has featured a shelled gastropod!  One would assume that in 128 years of existence, in an area famous for snails, residents would discover their benefits!

After a reading a few articles about snails in Quora Digest, Andrea rethought her view of the proverbial Pacific Northwest slugs and snails.

As a matter of fact, she said, “I became interested in keeping one as a pet. Shortly after, I carried a begonia in from the garden and a tiny snail was snuggled on a leaf. I set ‘FLASH’ up like any new pet by purr-chasing him/her a small habitat. Soon after, my husband, Howard, found two roommates for Flash. We gave them the names of Turbo and Chris because they are non-gender which eliminates gender specific names like Bob or Mary. In the several months that we have had them, our intriguing little brown family has grown in length and height. And yes, we can tell them apart.”

Hermaphrodites have both male and female organs, and this phenomenon occurs in snails, humans, earthworms, plants and insects. Who would know! Snail food is available online and consists of powdered seeds, fruit and calcium to ensure shell development.

Don’t confuse slugs with snails. Slugs do not have shells, snails are fancier, they come with their own safe homes to sleep in, and they travel with them wherever they go.

“Flash, Turbo and Chris are interesting to observe. What else can entertain you in a long pandemic? They are easy pets, peaceful, quiet and Zen-like to watch,” said Andrea. “I used to think of snails as a shell full of goop, but they are fascinating creatures! The pedal mucus that they excrete allows their single foot to glide over uneven surfaces and attach them to a branch or their terrarium wall. Our pets are like bats and can sleep hanging upside down. They are nocturnal and sleep for hours during daylight. They move slowly, thus the expression ‘At a snail’s pace.’ We have observed that they have four tentacles: smaller ones for smelling and bigger for seeing. They are deaf and have no ears.

“Around 5 P.M. our snails are active, so I take one of the three out of their habitat. They literally ‘come out of their shell’ and crawl around on my hand. They know me, are relaxed and understand that I won’t hurt them.

“Our friends and family ask us if ‘snails are good for anything’? No, not really. Our quiet slimy friends are low maintenance and eat very little.  They are a food source, escargot, for other creatures and fancy restaurants. They are good starter pets for kids because they are low maintenance, don’t shed and if you get tired of them, and live in the Pacific Northwest, they are the only pet that you can legally turn loose outside with a clear conscious. But please, Howard and I request, ‘Do not bring us any of your prolific garden slugs or snails. Enjoy them yourselves.’

TIPS

“To learn more about snails, a fun-fact book is, ‘The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating’ by Elisabeth Baile,” recommended Andrea. “It is a great bibliography of a bedridden woman, an amateur scientist, interested in the snail living in her bed’s night-stand planter.”

Eugene, Oregon is twenty minutes north of Cottage Grove and it holds an annual Slug Queen Festival to select their unofficial city ambassador. www.slugqueeneugene.com.

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