Tuesday, 28 June 2016

30 Days Wild day 12- Snail safari

It was another day of rain, so when it stopped in the early evening, I went out into the garden for a snail safari. I loved snails when I was little- I was fascinated by their slow, deliberate movements and the way they use their eyes-on-stalks. They're still one of my favourite bits of unappreciated wildlife. 

My snail identification skills are pretty rudimentary at best, and normally restricted to "ooh, a snail. Don't step on it." But the sheer diversity I found when I started looking for them inspired me to get out the wildlife books and make an attempt at finding out what they actually were.

By my reckoning I found four species: garden snails (Helix aspersa or sometimes Cornu aspersum depending on which classification you favour), white-lipped snails (Capaea hortensis), a brown-lipped snail (Cepaea nemoralis) and what I think was a strawberry snail (Trichulus striolatus).

A white-lipped snail
White-lipped and brown-lipped snails are distinguished, as the name suggests, by the coloured bands on the lips of their shells. Like most things there can be exceptions, but this seems to be the best way of telling the two species apart. Garden snails are easily recognised, especially because, as far as I can tell, I'm too far north for it to be a roman snail instead.

A garden snail raiding the bird feeder
It wasn't just the diversity of snails which was striking, but their behaviour too. According to my parents, there's been a snail resident in one of our bird feeders for several weeks. When I got close to it, I was able to see why- it was eating the bird seed. Garden snails are omnivores, not merely vegetation specialists, so it's unsurprising this one has taken advantage of such easily available food. Perhaps the seed is higher in energy or easier to digest than leaves, but I'd expect it to be much harder to chew!

No comments:

Post a Comment