19 comments on “Word Power, Heliculture

  1. I have snails too. I found the first, Conchito, on the middle of the street and then i found another and named it Ponchito. Now i have 9 adults and 58 (originailly 75) babies (all but one, offspring of the first pair, Conchito and Ponchito). I also have a rumina decollata, Rumino, but i keep all the helix aspersa away from Rumino, because rumina decollata is a cannibal and carnivorous snail and predates helix aspersa.

    • Awww! They sound cute. It’s a pleasure to hear from another snail enthusiast. I love the names you chose. we named ours Simon and Garfunkle, because the snails are so quiet, they remind us of the song, The Sounds of Silence. We didn’t name the babies either, but we haven’t had the heart to eat them yet.

      • I also love the names you choose and the story behind them. In the case of Conchito, in spanish shell is “concha”, so little shell is “conchita”. Then, Conchito is like the male version of Conchita and Ponchito is for rhyming. The other seven are: Monchito, Gruñón and Dormilón (spanish for Grumpy and Sleepy), Salami, Tigrito (little tiger), Houdini and Estrellita (little star). Only one of the babies has a name, Chiqui Chiqui (short for “chiquito”), it’s the smallest and has barely grown since the hatching, four months ago. I don’t know if i could eat them, because of the affection i feel… i even buy them a beer once in a while! 😀

      • Your snails sound sweet, especially Chiqui Chiqui. We find that they grow at different rates. Some of our babies grew fast, while others grew slow. We keep talking about eating ours, but I don’t think we could do it either. They are so cute. Be careful with the beer. They like it, but don’t know when to say when.

  2. Well, apparently Chiqui Chiqui’s dwarfism is my fault, because i was not careful enough when i fed the babies. About half of them was growing very fast so i separated them from the rest. In that way the others had a better chance to feed themselves with no competition for the food, but Chiqui Chiqui was an exception. Right now Chiqui Chiqui es isolated and has aaaaaall the food for it/him/her (i am not a native english speaker and i am not sure how i should refer to snails). I’d like to share with you this picture. They are Chiqui Chiqui on top of the second biggest of the babies and their mom, Conchito: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uzCsd7d416s/VbFzqXskNYI/AAAAAAAACog/F3LadsTcMjU/s1600/Conmama01.jpg Conchito now is smaller than most of its offspring.

    • Aww, they’re so sweet. Chiqui Chiqui is tiny! Since snails are hermaphroditic, he, she and it all work equally well. Very convenient for naming them since every name is at least partially gender appropriate

  3. I just noticed you wrote this almost three years ago. Are Simon and Garfunkle still alive? I have read wild snails live about 2-3 years and domestic snails can reach 7 years. And the babies must be full grown snails by now, aren’t they? Do you still have all of them?

    • Simon died last year, and Garfunkle died earlier this year. The babies are pretty big, but haven’t gotten as big as either of their parents. I’m afraid we lost quite a few of the babies as well. We have about 10 left. We are careful to remove new egg clusters when we see them so we don’t get more. We like the ones that we have, but we don’t really want to keep breeding them.

  4. Simon and Garfunkle had a long life, i think. Their offspring died naturally? I mean, did they get old and died? Ten snails are fine, i don’t know what i am gonna do with my 57, 58 if a new baby survive (Chiqui Chiqui died today), snails. They are 5 months old and soon they will be able to reproduce, at least the biggest.

    The nine adults had delivered, in total, more than 500 eggs, which i put in the freezer. Tigrito, alone, delivered 112. Conchito had delivered eggs twice and the rest had delivered eggs at least once. Gruñón, Dormilón and Chiqui Chiqui had died, Gruñón because i stepped on it accidentally, Dormilón just refused to eat and got more and more weak. Monday morning i found it dead. And mi dearest, Chiqui Chiqui, was so small i didn’t see it when i closed the lid of their box and i smashed it. I feel very sad, i’ve been crying the entire day. It was an unforgivable neglect. It was my “golden rule” to see where Chiqui Chiqui was before closing the lid.

    And more and more often i feel i am not capable of take care of them. And i’m thinking about releasing the adults, but it’s so hard. I feel my heart broken everytime i think about it. At least half of them were in a critical situation when i found them and no place seems good enough for me to release them. In the places i found them i see very often empty shells and dead snails. I have no garden and i dream about having one and let them live there, but it will not be possible soon.

    Besides, many people think i am weird because of taking care of them and keeping the babies when they were born. But i don’t care what they think,
    because they were born in the days my father got sick and died and taking care of them has been a motivation for me to going on and a source of joy, but it’s something i don’t expect they understand.

    What i know right know is that i love them very much and everytime one of them dies i feel very very sad. Most of the time is my fault, accidents like those Gruñón and Chiqui Chiqui were involved in.

    Sorry for the long text, i felt that if someone can understand me is someone who has have snails. Despite the fact they probably are not aware of my existence they are very important to me.

    • Thank you for the sweet letter. I understand how you feel about them. Snails are very charismatic. We don’t know why a lot of our young snails died, but I suspect that we may not have cleaned their aquarium often enough. That’s usually when we find the dead ones. After we clean the aquarium, they seem happier, somehow, and they usually lay eggs after the cleaning. we’ve been removing the eggs, and we’ve even eaten a few of them, but we are trying to avoid breeding more snails. We love the ones that remain, and they are delightful companions, but when you have too many it’s hard to have personal feelings for each of them. I’m sure that you do your best for your snail friends, and that they appreciate your efforts on their behalf. It’s dangerous world for snails and sometimes accidents happen.
      I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your father. That must be very hard for you. I think that your snail friends are aware of you, and they know how much you need their support. These snails are native to Europe, so they are all a long way from home, and they’ve gotten to travel the world by hanging out with humans in their gardens. So, the snails don’t think it’s so weird to be around people, I don’t think it strange at all that people like being around snails too. By the way, have you ever seen the video for Peter Gabriel’s song Digging in the Dirt, It has a lot of snails in it, and he lets them climb all over him. Do you? We do.

  5. In october will be a year since i found Conchito and since then i’ve read many things about snails that are contradictory. About the cleaning, some say snails need a little dirt in order to mantain their inmune system strong, other say you have to clean often because snails like to be clean.

    And there is this disease, “90 days disease”, in whick snails simply refuse to eat and let themselves die, which is what i think Dormilón had.

    And it’s true, when you have too many snails it’s hard to have personal feelings for each of them, but some are particular. Like Chiqui Chiqui, the smallest; or Silvestre, the one i found on the opposite sidewalk of the bus stop (i still can’t explain myself how it finished there… there aren’t houses or a garden nearby and it had to cross the street. I think is awesome it avoided to be stepped in or crushed by a car).

    It had its shell very damaged and i didn’t think it will survive, but it did. And now its shell is mostly restored and it’s bigger than before. Here is the before and after picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KwmwIE5q1BY/VdQUneOhItI/AAAAAAAACp4/4USy8XjSoTQ/s1600/silvestre.jpg
    Silvestre (silvestre=wild) is the one that make feel that what i am doing is worth.

    Sorry, i can’t help talking about my babies 😛

    You know, my father used to take care of animals, like hurt doves o baby doves that had lost their mother, street dogs (cats didn’t like him very much, but before he passed away he took care of a cat and its babies) and even a raven he found in the garbage.

    He used to dig in the ground with this enormous bird on his shoulder (it was a raven like this https://kpbs.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2014/04/08/NOVAAnimalMinds_LloydBuck_t700.jpg?f40c0e74b997dbb01ce524758e0d04a31382c8af) and gave it worms directly in its beak. Sometimes he brought me white mouses that were thrown away in the garbage (he worked in maintenance in a soccer field near a University, from where the animals came, apparently they were pets) and he had a beakless dove and used to fed it putting corn grains (maíz) directly in its breast (buche, we say in spanish).

    I always had his example of love and respect for animals, even if they are worthless for others, like snails. So, i feel i honor his memory and legacy taking care of my snails as best as i can. This are some of my babies: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5cdiLal2x4A/VdQUjcsQqzI/AAAAAAAACpw/r2CfSbsYEA0/s1600/babysnails.jpg

    Is like, somehow, my father gave me this final gift of life.

    And now that i know where they come from, i admire them a little more. They are virtually blind, deaf and its unique defense is hiding in their shell and excrete mucus (baba, we say in spanish). However, they have managed to survive and to live in this very dangerous world for them.

    Do you know Polymita snail (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-
    iZO2tPfHiMw/VdQWmXQMZsI/AAAAAAAACqA/ro8P9KORcKQ/s1600/polymita.jpg )? It is endemic to Cuba and is considered the most beautiful snail in the world. And because of this beauty, Polymita are endangered. Sometimes i think how people look down on snails, but it they were all as beautiful as Polymita, i think things would be different. However, sometimes beauty isn’t enough or Polymita wouldn’t be endangered.

    And there are Liguus, also very abundant on Cuba and also endangered: http://www.ashbreure.nl/snailblog/files/adedab8a61dc964a3ab6158105995f2d-269.html). They look like rumina decollata, here is my Rumino: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sCgQzsyKu8s/VdQYoSI_ABI/AAAAAAAACqI/TiKoPvqFntQ/s1600/Rumino.jpg

    I wonder if Liguus are cannibal snails, too…

    Thanks for the video, i love the snails! They are slugs too. Call me hypocrite but i don’t like slugs, jeje.

    I also let my snails climb on me. They say snails can recognize their keepers by their smell. I don’t know if it is true but even if not i like to get along with them. Sometimes they let me to caress them or rise their heads with curiosity.

    I have a blog too, but it’s in spanish. I don’t write very often and i am planning to write about my snails. As soon as the post is ready i will let you know, in case you are interested in reading it.

    Thanks for your patience and your kind words, i appreciate them very much 🙂

    • So nice to hear from you Miri. I really enjoy your sweet letters. Thanks for all of the information about snails. We were only able to find one book about snails, and it was written for people who raise them for food. We hadn’t heard about “90 days disease” but the symptoms sound familiar. It’s also good to know that snails can survive when their shell cracks.

      Thanks for the pictures of Sylvestre the Adventure Snail. He sounds like a brave and daring soul. I’m glad you are looking out for him. I’m sure the time you spend with your snails is worthwhile for all of you.

      Your father sounds like a great guy. You must miss him a lot. To have so much love for animals, he must have loved you enormously too. I’m so sorry you lost him. I’ll bet all of the animals miss him too.

      I’ve heard of Polymita snails, but I’ve never seen one. I’ll bet they are very beautiful, but I can see how having a pretty shell can be dangerous. I remember seeing a terrible store in Florida called “The Shell Factory” The enormous store was so full of pretty shells I could hardly believe they left any of the poor animals they took them from, alive in the ocean. I think all snails are beautiful, and I like slugs too. We have some very special slugs here, where I live, in Northern California They are called Banana Slugs because they look like ripe bananas.

      They get pretty big, sometimes 6-8 inches long. We don’t keep them as pets, but we have a lot of banana slug friends around our home. We pick them up when we see them on the road so they won’t get run over by a car or a truck. Sometimes when we pick them up, they seem very frightened and hide their eye-stalks back under their mantle, but others seem more curious than frightened. We also have some red snails that are native to our area. We call them madrone snails, because they match the red wood of madrone trees which grow around here:

      Do you live in Cuba? Cuba sounds like such a beautiful place. Your
      English is very good. I’m very impressed by people who learn more than one language. I don’t know any Spanish I’m afraid, but I know where to go online to get something translated. I’d love to see your blog, and especially the post about your snails. Please stay in touch.
      Sincerely, Your snail-loving friend, John

  6. Recentlyt i found this site http://www.petsnails.co.uk/ and it’s full of very interesting information, even when it’s more oriented to giant african snails.

    There is a section with known snail diseases, one of them is called “deep retraction”, which sounds a lot like “90 days disease”. I learned about the last from blogs written by snail farmers and i think it may be something like depression… even if they say snails lack enough neurons for at least feeling pain.

    Indeed, i think they do feel pain.

    The site includes a section in which they teach how to repair a very damage shell. You can help the snail but sometimes it’s better to let it to recover naturally, while keeping it wet with boiled water.

    Silvestre was isolated the firsts days. I was afraid to pick it up and hurting it and one of my babies got close to it and rasped its shell on the broken part, so i tought Silvestre would be better alone.

    But then i had vacations and had to put all of them together and apparently it was very helpful. I think the mucus from the other babies when they climbed on Silvestre contributed to restore its shell more quickly. Two or three weeks later, it was a brand new snail. Not only was its shell partially restored, its skin was less dark and it gained weight.

    I take all my snails with on vacations. I hide them under my crochet labors and keep an eye on them while on the bus.

    I like to crochet, by the way 😀

    Thanks for your nice words about my father. He was very known for his love to animals and i’m sure he is missed for many people. He was not very affectionate to us, but i know he loved us very much.

    People sometimes are cruel to animals with no intention. An aunt brought me some “snails” from the beach, which were actually hermit crabs. They were four and the four died. I was very angry, but i know she just wanted to have a nice detail. I have read that hermit crab is endangered because people who pick up seashells at the beach are taking away their possible “homes”.

    I don’t want to think too much about the fate of the tenants of all the shells in that store… a friend of mine put the shells she brings from the beach in boiling water “to kill parasites and plague”.

    The slug in the picture is enormous… i think i could like slugs too. After all, I used to feel repulsion for snails, but now i don’t. Very effective way to show me slugs are nice too 🙂

    I think the ones that show curiosity have been lifted by a human before and are like “this is quite familiar”.

    Here we call slugs “babosas”, which is also a way to refer to people who are not very intelligent or say bad words. A few months ago i found a baby slug in a plant i bought and i was willing to keep it, but apparently and accidentally i threw it to the garbage while changing its food 😦

    It’s kind of funny… my father had snakes one or two times (harmless snakes, called alicantes: http://www.abc.es/Media/201410/19/Serpiente%20alicante–644×362.jpg) and i was not afraid to manipulate them and used to put the biggest around my wrist, like a bracelet, but i don’t like to touch slugs. I think it’s because they remind me of worms. Many people feel repulsion to snails and slugs because of the mucus, but that’s no longer my case, so yeah, i think i could like slugs.

    Madrone snails seem to be big, aren’t they? They seem to be this big http://0.media.collegehumor.cvcdn.com/55/76/82f7b3b56d2b1ba5421ec7faab6d053c-scientist-has-giant-snail-on-face.jpg

    They are cute and have a pretty color. I have never seen before a snail like that, not even in photos. Madrone snails is a nickname from yours or that’s how they are called? Anyway, i like how it sounds “madrone snails”.

    I am from México but i’ve been in Cuba twice. I liked there but it’s a hard place to live if you have no money. And it was many years ago, before i became aware of the existence of Polymita Picta or even imagine i would become a crazy snail lady.

    I’ve been learning english in school since i was 12, but the real knowledge, mostly, came from reading. Actually, my spoken english and my listening are not good. My reading and my writing are, i think, at the same level, but there are things i don’t fully understand when i read and there are things i don’t know how to express when i write, and i know i make mistakes in my writing. I have available an english-spanish dictionary everytime i write in english, but it’s more helpful to google an expresion to see if it’s correct.

    Sometimes i think about learning russian or japanese, because many beautiful crochet patterns are written in those languages, but so far it has been enough to learn the meaning of the symbols or abbreviations.

    I thought you were from Australia, because of the didgeridoo. Why? Because of a Simpson’s episode in which Lisa plays one in Australia… a silly stereotype 😛

    I found an e-mail at your Facebook page, do you mind if i send you there my blog’s URL?

    Sincerely, your crazy-snail-lady friend, Miri (Miri is only a nickname, by the way :D)

    • Hi Miri, So nice to hear from you. Give me a few days to write back. I don’t have internet at home, so I only get online when I’m at a cafe. I’ll write more soon.

    • Hi Miri, I just checked my email and found the one from you. for some reason Yahoo won’t let me look at my emails today, but I will write back as soon as I can.

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