Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sleight of Shell

The girls are in an awesome Art Camp this summer, and a couple weeks back, in addition to the weekly armloads of pottery and puppets, they brought home snails (it was Slime Week). Big ones too, maybe two and a half inches when stretched out and in motion. They put the things in jars, from which they promptly escaped. We have three cats, I assumed they would dine on escargot that evening.

Last week youngest found a shell stuck to one of the table legs, almost a foot off the ground. I plucked it off, put it on the table, figuring it was dead. Minutes later, youngest squealed and pointed; the snail was out of the shell and extended, speeding across the table on a trail of slime.

I read up online how to care for snails, made it a cozy little tupperware home: peat moss, rocks, water, lettuce. They live up to ten years, I figured we should take it more seriously this time around. I named it Booger (because of the mucus trail it slides on), but the girls would have none of that and renamed it Princess. I told them snails were hermaphrodites, explained they had both boy and girl parts and could make babies all by themselves. They re-renamed it Prince-and-Princess.

We sprayed it and fed it for two days. Snails are fun to watch (particularly those weird little antennas), and more active than you would think. One morning it was gone again. The lid had been put on loosely and it slipped out (another factoid I learned on the net: snails are strong, and can lift 10 times their weight).

So. Prince-and-Princess is on the loose again in the wilds of our house. He/she's a survivor, for weeks now, so we're keeping out eyes peeled for that tell-tale shell. Or for a smug canary smile on the face of one of the cats.


slommler said...

Well I would never of thought to try and keep a snail. Ewwww!! All that slime! Though they are fascinating creatures...I will give you that!
Hope you find Prince and Princess soon!

Poet in Residence said...

'Slime Week' seems like a great fun idea. Your kids must be very bright to think of naming a snail Prince-and-Princess. You must be proud of them.
My garden crows are called Maxi, Frau Maxi, Maxi jnr 1, Maxi jnr 2. How's that for complete adult lack of imagination?

Fresca said...

Me too! Me too!
My parents (and the shopkeeper) used to let me bring a couple snails home from the Italian grocery, where they were sold, live, out of big baskets. For eating, of course.
Same dealio: they always ran away.
And were never heard from again.

I love your children's easy and creative comfort with gender bending.
Our brains can get so stiff and boring when we get older.

meno said...

A snail named Princess! I LOVE little girls!

Clowncar said...

There is quite a bit of slime involved, SA. But that's true of alotta things. If P&P is found, you will be among the first to know.

PiR, I am proud of them. This post was mostly just a sneaky way of bragging about them. Earlier this year they named worms "wormo" and "the mets." A worm named "the mets" still makes me chuckle.

Hey, low calorie beverage of the 70s. It was refreshing how effortlessly they dealt with the concept. No questions, even, which surprised me. Let's hope their minds remain so fluid.

Meno. Yep. I come up with Booger. They come up with Princess. Who is more fun to be with?

Fresca said...

Actually, Fresca is still available and now comes in snazzy new flavors too, like metalic-chemical peach. (That's not its official name, of course.)

Let's hope OUR brains remain fluid--
--slimy, even! : )

Hilary said...

Oh I love that you sweeties renamed it Prince and Princess. I hope they will soon find the snail formerly known as princess.

Clowncar said...

Fresca, it is tempting to believe in a generation beyond issues of race and gender and sexual orientation when you deal with little kid minds regularly. Naive, but tempting.

Hil, this just in. There is an odd fishy smell in the back staircase. It does not bode well for the SFKaP. Ha! I just now got that. Good one.