Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Slugs and Snails and Puppydog Tails

WHILE weeding the flower bed yesterday, we noticed quite a collection of creatures who had taken up residence beneath the leaf litter. Emma decided to start collections of her own - live worms, slugs and snails onto one rock for the purposes of observation; empty snail shells on another rock for - well does there have to be a reason? Here are some of her observations, followed by my notes after research:

  • The slugs have two pairs of 'antenna'. Actually they are called tentacles; the longer upper pair is for vision, the lower pair for smell. Couldn't see how many the snails had - they are tiny little things; the shells are only about 5mm in diameter.
  • The 'antenna' hide when the slug is frightened. Yes, they retract just as the snail goes into its shell. What's more, the tentacles can be regrown if lost.
  • The slugs and snails seemed to be able to navigate out of the soil much better than the worms. They headed right off the rock back down into the moist earth, while the worms just writhed rather helplessly until we rescued them. Oh whoops, I thought I had seen worms move around on driveways and such after a rain, but actually they were stranded here as they cannot move out of soft ground. Sorry, worms!
  • Slugs and snails climb right over one another when one is in the way. Nothing to add to that!
  • The slugs have a hole on the right side of their body. We wondered if this was for breathing, or perhaps hearing. It is actually for breathing.

And as for the puppydog tails? I pointed out to Emma the tulip shoots that are coming up. She wiggled one and said it was wagging its tail. The wonders of a three-year-old imagination! We found lots of daffodil shoots too, but the crocuses are not yet in sight.

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