Focus on the garden snail

One of the nice things about 30 days wild is that many of the activities encourage you to slow down, to take it easy. In this fast paced world of instant communication, instant gratification, next day delivery, hectic jobs it can be easy to lose track of what matters. But many of the wild acts make you sit back and take a break. So today’s focus is slowing down to look at the common garden snail.

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Originating in the Mediterranean and Europe this common garden visitor has spread across the world. It arrived in many places by accident, whereas South Africa and California it was introduced as a food animal. It is considered a pest for agriculture and is probably top of the hit list for gardeners. It has a wide ranging diet eating many bushes, trees, crops and vegetables. Although it is classed as an omnivore as they will eat worms and crushed snails on occasion. They have mouths of many tiny teeth, the radula

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They are hermaphrodites having both male and female organs. This is true of slugs and many fish as well. They normally reproduce sexually, though occasionally self fertilisation occurs. When they mate they lay around 100 little pearl like eggs. I’ve found them in damp spots in my garden like the log pile.

They move by contracting and releasing their muscular “foot”. Combined with the mucus trail they release to reduce friction they can move up to 1.3 cm per second.

They prefer to come out at night or early morning. Though wet weather will bring them out. When it’s dry they can hide in their shell, the number seal themselves in with a layer of dried mucus to retain moisture.

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If teaching about snails, the book snails trail is a good choice.

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For snail control around your favourite plants crushed egg shells and copper tape can act as a barrier to movement. I planted sacrificial lettuce in the border last year. Then Guinness traps work well. The snails love Guinness, but the black stuff dehydrates them. Apparently throws them over e fence doesn’t help as they have a good homing sense.

I will finish with a very brave, or foolhardy snail, on the bird feeder this morning.

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