Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Random Gastropod Pictures

These guys are an endless supply of amusing behaviors. For example, this Neohelix albolabris appears to be very excited about his lettuce. If you look closely, you can see a white protrusion from the side of his face. That's his penis. He's got the snail equivalent of a chubby!

And this guy is taking a nap in the water dish. Later, he decided to go for a dive.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Swimming Slugs!

It had not occurred to me until last night that slugs and snails, even small ones, might benefit from having a dish of water available. I had always assumed that they only got their moisture through their skin and from food. However, things I'd read led me to give it a try. I filled up the cap of a gallon jug with distilled water and almost immediately had a taker. A young L. valentiana eagerly slimed up for a drink. However, after drinking his fill, he decided that a little swim was in order.

Imagine my startlement when I saw that! I thought that he would surely drown, but that wasn't the case. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but he's fully submerged. He seemed to genuinely enjoy himself. When he was done, he got out, slimed away and munched on some corn. Will they ever cease to amaze?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Their First Experience With Corn

On the pet snails forum, people often report that sweet corn is a big hit with their slugs and snails. Since I happened to have some in the freezer, I decided to see if my little guys would enjoy some, as well. Turns out that they did. A lot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Slugs, Snails And Their Food

Like most animals, slugs and snails love their food. Sometimes, they'll even stand guard over it, even when they're not hungry. Never mind the fact that there's more than enough to go around:

They even make funny little faces and do weird things with their eye stalks when they encounter something they find extra tasty:

Much of the time, they can be found sleeping around or underneath the food dish. Yesterday, I even noticed that one slug or snail (can't tell the difference from eggs alone) was even thoughtful enough to lay his eggs on the underside of the dish, where they would have had immediate access to food upon hatching. However, I had to move them in order to clean and refill the dish. Silly slimers!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mollusks Can Be Jerks, Too

I'm not a real scientist. I don't even play one on TV. But unlike most real scientists, I have the benefit of not being blinded by rigidity, callousness and arrogant logic regarding other living things. What I'm saying is that I firmly believe that all animals, even slugs and snails, are capable of emotion, suffering and pleasure. After all, are fear, stress, curiosity and anger not emotions? It's quite clear that animals feel these things, so why couldn't they experience the complete package? To anyone who pays attention, it should be obvious that they do.

If they can feel, then they can certainly also act on those feelings. I've seen my slugs and snails behave toward one another, even ones outside their species, with a moving amount of tenderness and affection. I've also watched them decide to behave like little assholes out of the blue and for no apparent reason, just like people can. Case in point:

On a number of occasions now, I've witnessed altercations between individual slugs that were completely unprovoked. Much of the time, the unfortunate victim was sleeping peacefully, minding his own business, when another slug would be passing by. The passer-by would suddenly notice the slumberer, move toward him and begin prodding him with his lower pair of tentacles. It all looks very innocent until the slug doing the prodding rears back slightly and lunges mouth-first at the vulnerable body of the unsuspecting one who, at this point, has been very rudely awakened and is thrashing around rather violently.

It doesn't always stop there. The aggressor would sometimes give chase (with shocking speed, might I add) and continue biting the other. When this happens, I intervene to prevent anyone from being injured. However, I'm certain that these things go on all of the time when I'm not watching them. Since I don't find the container littered with the mauled remains of dead slugs and snails (nor am I noticeably missing any), these altercations must resolve themselves uneventfully most of the time and are simply a part of their natural social behavior.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


For as long as I can remember, I've kept pets. All sorts of pets, ranging from the typical to the bizarre. Unlike most parents, mine were exceptionally tolerant of my hobby, but they often got as much enjoyment out of the animals as I did. My father, who repeatedly claimed that he'd shoot any snake or tarantula I brought into the house, quickly warmed up even to these beasties.

Despite the enormous variety of critters that graced my menagerie, however, few have been as fascinating as the average terrestrial mollusk. Specifically, slugs and snails. Most people feel that there couldn't be a pet more boring, but I beg to differ. Anyone who spends even a little time quietly watching them would be in awe of the complexity of their slimy little lives. Rest assured, they do much, much more than just gobble your garden plants and leave slime trails everywhere.

It is my intention to document my personal observations of these amazing little animals so that people might understand them better, and perhaps even react to them without wanton cruelty. I hope that the information in this blog will also serve to further the snail and slug-keeping hobby as a whole. Though there are a surprising number of people out there who keep terrestrial mollusks as companion animals, there isn't much information on their care, behavior or treatment of health problems. I want to change that.

These creatures are wonderful pets. They're fairly clean, eat a variety of foods, cost nothing to feed or house and have some of the most amusing and intriguing behaviors of any animal I've seen. I keep them in standard plastic storage bins with holes in the top, filled with soil, leaves, wood and other things that slugs and snails enjoy. If my living space allowed for it, I'd have more tubs just like this stacked floor to ceiling.

Currently, my collection consists of a handful locally found species:

Lehmannia valentiana, the three-banded garden slug
Deroceras reticulatum, the gray field slug
Discus rotundatus, the rotund disc snail (02/08/13 EDIT: This snail turned out to be Patera appressa)

I also have an Ariolimax columbianus, or banana slug, who isn't doing well, the poor, sweet thing. Plus, there are few other slugs whose identification is not forthcoming. They're small, probably still juveniles, and are black-brown in color like dark chocolate. As far as individuals go, I estimate that there are upwards of 40 in varying states of development, plus eggs that I expect will hatch soon. I also take pictures regularly, which can be viewed here.

I hope everyone who reads this blog takes away something valuable from it.