Posted by: Hannah | 05/30/2012

a snail riding a turtle yells “wheeeee!!!”

Harry’s class has spent the last month studying snails.


Each child got a small terrarium. And a snail. It’s been non-stop, with the stories about the snail and trying to decide what to feed the snail and fretting about the snail not wanting his watermelon rinds.

Harry named his “Luke Snailwalker” and wrote a comic strip wherein a snail flew around in an X-wing and blew up the Death Star III.

He came home upset one day because a classmate knocked Luke Snailwalker’s terrarium on the ground and everything got all jumbled up. He came home even more upset the next day because he’d dropped Luke by mistake, smashing a large piece off his shell.

It’s been all snails, all the time up in here.


On Monday he came home with a permission slip – could Luke Snailwalker come home? The snail unit has come to an end, you see, and the snails need ‘forever’ homes.

Sure. It’s a snail. Harry will get tired of it eventually, and then we can set the little fellow free in our yard. The end. So I signed the permission slip, agreeing to ‘adopt’ the snail.

Luke came home yesterday. He was plopped on my hand so I could meet him. His shell is a gimpy mess, although he seemed pretty frisky, for a snail. Various appendages were waving around on the front end and he left a slime puddle in my palm, anyway, so I guess he was happy to make my acquaintance.

His terrarium was given the Place of Honour next to Harry & Ron’s CD player. They spent the evening closeted in their room, playing music for him – The Beatles, mostly – and trying to figure out why he’s not eating his chalk. (Did you know pet snails need to eat chalk? The calcium helps them build more shell. Something this little guy sorely needs, since following his various mishaps he’s practically a slug.) They decorated his terrarium… with snail shells they collected from the beach last year. Michael pointed out how insensitive and threatening that is, as a gesture. Like if I decorated the dayhome with human skeletons.

Today Harry came home with more snail info; specific details for care and feeding. And… hey… there is more to this than I thought.

Keep the soil moist by making sure a bottlecap full of water is placed in the terrarium. The snails like lettuce and carrots, but nothing else. Don’t let the food get mouldy. Don’t forget about the chalk. Keep the habitat in full darkness at night because snails will only eat if it’s dark.

And my personal favourite: “these snails are not native to Nova Scotia, so if you decide your snail needs a new loving home, please do not put them in outside gardens or natural spaces. Thank you!”


Did I mention snails are asexual reproducers? Males or females can lay eggs. So far Luke hasn’t shown much interest in anything beyond hanging upside down on his habitat ceiling, but if that damn shell heals up WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

What am I supposed to do if this damn thing lays eggs? How long do snails live?


Would it have killed Harry’s teacher to use local snails for this project? I have snails all over my property. Any time it rains, I can quite literally walk out my front door and find half a dozen of the things. I only agreed to let Luke Snailwalker come home because I was counting on setting it free in a few weeks. This does not seem to be in the cards.

Tell me again why we bought these children a dog when a chia pet would have done the trick?



  1. You are a better Mother than I am; I would have NEVER signed that permission slip, let alone let it crawl on my hand!

  2. Suddenly I’m not so bothered by the fact that my toddler came home from art class with a flower in a flowerpot. (Despite the dirt in the car. And the fact that I now have to keep both the toddler and the plant alive).

  3. Maybe this is the morning grump in me, but it seems a little irresponsible of the teacher to set it up so that parents have to decide whether or not to let their kid bring a living animal home. Yeah, it’s just a snail, but it’s more work then a bean plant or pet rock. At very least, it should have been something that could be “set free” eventually.

    • It is NOT the morning grump, this is exactly what I thought about the whole thing. I *only* agreed to bring it home because I assumed we could eventually have a nice talk about the unfairness of keeping wild creatures penned up and then have a little ‘goodbye Luke Snailwalker’ ceremony. Could be worse though – a Facebook friend from Quebec tells me her class hatched out LIVE CHICKS for Easter (!!) and the kids were then offered the chance to take them home.

  4. I just thought of something. When the kids have left home and you are an empty-nester, maybe you will still have Luke Snailwalker and his descendants to care for. So really, this is a total blessing. You can love and nurture these snails until you are in the nursing home. Then you can pass the snails on to your next-of-kin. Maybe you need to revise your will, to organize a care structure for them? JUST PLANNING AHEAD, HANNAH.

    • I need a living will! For the snails! Because who will look after them once I’m gone? *laughing, but also crying, because really, HOW LONG DO SNAILS LIVE?? (And how do you know when they’re dead?)

  5. Not that I’m suggesting it, but you can be pretty sure they’re dead if you’ve stepped on them. I know this because my mum makes it her hobby to do just that, and I used to spend hours as a child defending them from her.

    • Ewww. I’d have thought cracking a huge chunk off their shell would do it, but apparently not, because he really is almost naked and yet he’s still functioning.

  6. You know they are dead when the garlic butter gets that little crust on top in the oven. At that point the whole tasty morsel just slips out of the shell.
    WHAT… why are you all looking at me like that! In Malta I used to collect snails off the garden wall for the neighbor lady to devour. They were yummy. Just saying…. 🙂

  7. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if I remember correctly, snails can live up to 15 or more years. I believe a letter to the teacher/school and an “escaped” snail story are in order.

  8. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher said she was looking into getting a “cheap incubator” & hatching eggs in class.

    I firmly set her straight. Eggs need turned, or you get deformed chicks. They need constant temperature monitoring, or they die in their shells. They turn into BIRDS. More so, the teacher lives in town, so I suspect she was telling me so I’d say “I’ll take the chickens when they stop being cute & turn into stinky birds!”

    Now, all of those are valuable lessons, but no. Just no. Most of the problems could be fixed by getting a quality incubator that does the work for, I dunno, the 128 hours a week that school isn’t in session, but you’re looking at $200+.

    I kind of laugh-cringe when I hear about teachers getting those tomato Hornworm caterpillars for their students & then releasing the moths.

    If watching them decimate entire plants in minutes doesn’t teach you that you don’t want that moth in your yard, I don’t know why you’re educating other people’s children. It’s like growing thistles instead of bean sprouts & then telling the kids to sprinkle the seeds in their yard.

  9. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not understanding why she’s sending home a non native species that will likely inevitably be set outside (or “accidentally” stepped on)-why not local snails, or something that doesn’t run the risk of being invasive? Weird.

    But here I was grumpy about sunflowers which didn’t survive the walk home. I could have it a LOT worse…then again, I’m moving to farm country so…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: