Sunday, June 26, 2011

At A Snails Pace

Swedish Snail w/House
Today’s discussion will be about all the snails I have seen on this trip. I’m sure there are snails in Minnesota, but they aren’t such a common occurrence that I am immune to them. The best looking snail by far was the one in someone’s yard, perfect for playing on. No yucky slime, no antennae.

Then there were the cute ones. Real, live snails carrying their little houses around on their backs. I admit to being a little put off by the mostly transparent body, but when compared with the others, these are
Disney material: cute and lovable. But then there are the others…

One day we went for a walk, to loosen up Leif’s legs after the long race. Because of the heavy rains the day before, there were lots of puddles and wet areas on the roads. I noticed something brown on the road and stopped to see what it was. What it was is something that here translates into “killer snail.” I don’t know, “killer snail” just doesn’t strike fear into my heart the way “killer bees” does. No one runs in terror from “killer snails” like they would from a killer shark. There will not be a thrilling movie, “Killer Snails: Terror at 2 Millimeters Per Hour.“ The best this snail can hope for is a documentary, maybe with Discovery Channel, but probably with public television. This name doesn’t mean that it is carnivorous (like killer tomatoes, one of the great stupid movies of all time) or that it has some kind of great hate for humans, but that it isn’t native to this country and so has no natural predators and eats everything in it’s slimy path. It is about 3 inches long, fat and ugly.

There were so many of them I had to watch where I was walking. They obviously don‘t use the survival instincts that the good Lord gave them. When it rains they try to get across the road, blissfully unaware that the rain will stop and the added boost the rain gives their slime will be gone, leaving them stranded mid-road with little hope of reaching the other side alive. I freely admit to kicking a number of them back into the middle of the road in the hopes that some car would “accidentally” hit them. I didn’t do any actual killing and so my conscience is clear.

We ran into a different kind of snail on our car excursion trip. This is one of the normal snails for the region. These also aren’t cute cartoon snails, but big, black, slimy ones that look like bloated leeches with antennae. Sorry there is no picture, but it was pouring rain. On second thought, I’m not sorry. You don’t want to see it. If you can believe it, they are even bigger and nastier than the other snails, but native to the region and so not reviled as deeply as the “killer snail.“ They don’t carry a little shell around with them and no one knows where they go when the rain stops but they always show up when it is wet out. I am going with the night crawler theory: the rain forces them out of their little holes and they are just trying to find a way back underground. Sounds so much better than that the rain re-hydrates them and they go on a feeding frenzy. Eeewww.

Oh, and maybe the best part…all these snails are also cannibals. Just think how deadly they’d be if they had any speed whatsoever.

Killer Snail


  1. "I didn’t do any actual killing and so my conscience is clear." Gee, my conscience is clear when I squish those big black ants and red & black bugs (NOT ladybugs - I encourage ladybugs). In fact, the bigger the big black ants the MORE my conscience is clear!

    Great snail article. But why are the killer snails called killer?

  2. Linda, because they eat virtually everything in their slimy path. Gardens disappear. It ain't pretty.