Snails are among my favourite animals, they really are, and among the things I count as achievements is getting a bunch of people excited for them. My circle is pretty enthusiastic about them and even outside of it. Turns out people can find some love for the lil fellas. But here I wanted to talk and hopefully enthuse some more people, I personally like being convinced and I hope so do you.
A little Story
Before we get to snails let me tell you a story, it doesn’t matter if you can truly relate just try to feel it…
It’s a snowy, dark winter day. Christmas is around the corner and yellow lights from stores and houses break out into the cool whites and blues of the streets. It’s a busy day, everyone is shopping for Christmas, and you have to hurry along not to block the way. Until… you come upon a large store window, you look inside and find a miniature town. You look through one of the houses windows and see a family having their Christmas dinner, a little train is making the rounds and the engineer is smiling and waving as he drives by. A moment of peace.
There’s something very appealing to me in small things, miniatures most of all. It’s in part the details that are wonderful but there’s something more, just the fact that things are small can delight us I believe. I think that’s what I always, as a kid, wanted to ride around in toy cars, play with my figures at their size rather than just play at my own level. Certainly fantasy plays a role in that but I often wanted to explore these familiar spaces at a different size rather than say, go on an international adventure with my action figures. And in my adult years this fascination still carries over, most of all when I look at plants, gardens, waters. I love all these things at all sizes but there’s something special to look under a leaf or underground and see a density of life. A beating heart. And I don’t think I’m the only one! Movies like Arthur and the Invisibles, Toy Story or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids prove to me this feeling exists and I hope I’m not the only to carry it partially into adulthood.
And it’s in this microcosm that I think the snail is among kings. What is cool about the Microcosm is that it can be both alien and familiar, for me the snail is decidedly on the familiar side. Again let us imagine, this time we are tiny explorers on a moist evening moving through a garden’s underbrush. It is here we find our snail, slowly trudging along and munching on leaves. Slowly. To me this is a pastoral scene with hulking snails instead of grazing cows. Large, cumbersome (cucumber-eating) vegetarians with a calming aura. I really would say that, now and then, observing an eating snail can really make the soul vibrate, as Kandinsky would say. It is truly therapeutic. And that’s not even to say anything about the points one gets for the “Friend of the Forest” perk that everyone certainly has in real life (+2 Nature, +1 Silliness).
As a small aside, I must say playing Hollow Knight really made me appreciate bugs more, I would see a bug in the wild and scream to myself “Yo! It’s the guy! From the game!”
Cool Snails 🙂
Okay, cool, whatever, liking snails is like… really deep or whatever. Lemme just show you some cool snails!!!
#5 – GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAILS (Achatina fulica)
Now, going off what I was previously talking about, if snails are the kings of garden pastoralism then GALS are the Kings of Kings, the Bosses of Bosses. Why? Just look at it, dummy. They’re big as hell, they can grow up to 40cm long (~16 inches). Everything your regular garden snail does is supersized here. Truly nature’s greatest munchers.
#4 – This lil’ lady 🙂
So there’s a reason why I don’t give a name to this one, and that is because enthusiasts struggle to actually identify it because it resembles a few species though it’s most likely a Leptopoma perlucida, the South-East Asian Translucent Thin-cap. It’s really a pretty one with it’s green* conical shell and just a slight blush. Quite unique too because it actually has gills and resembles aquatic snails more than it’s terrestrial relatives. It’s only so far up in this list cause I really wanted to show you.
*It’s not technically green but a translucent white with a green mantle that shines through.
#3 – Fire Snail (Platymma tweediei)
This goth icon is an Indonesian fella that just loves listening to Bauhaus and Siouxsie. Personally? I stan. Now, there’s nothing hidden about it, it wears it’s flair on it’s shell so to say. By which I mean, it’s not poisonous and can’t fly, but it is very pretty and rather large which is very cool. I also suspect that it’s extra fast because of the red colour… Sadly it’s threatened by poachers and habitat loss. It would be very sad to lose such a beauty in my opinion.
#2 – Scaly-Foot Snail (Chrysomallon squamiferum)
Keeping with the theme of goth icons, here we have a true knight, the iron volcano snail. I’m starting to get why games like Pokemon and Elden Ring like the fire + snail combo… These fellas are pretty small but are cool because they live in underwater volcanic vents and have a shell out of iron that protect them against foes! Fitting for knights they also have huge hearts (4% of their body!) in order to save the day despite their size, it’s where they store their bravery 🙂
#1 – Purple Storm Snail (Janthina janthina)
At our number one spot we stay underwater for one of the wackiest creatures in the world, the bubble-raft snail, which not only looks very pretty with it’s royal color, but also seems to be min-maxing for silliness because it moves by actually capturing bubbles near the sea-surface in order to stay afloat. Truly a master of the goofy lifestyle, I take my hat off.
A Giant African Land Snail as a baby 🙂
A Few Serious Remarks
Thank you for sticking with me for this long, I’m rather fond of these little creatures and I hope you can see something cool in them too, now. Initially I was gonna give some facts at the end about snails, actually I will give you one: Their mucus has been used for skin care since antiquity.
But on a more serious note, my message is simple, all animals deserve love. Whether they are furry or scaly or slimy. That’s not to say all of them are easy to love, but when we find empathy for them we find some for ourselves as well. It genuinely cultivates virtue. And so it is heartbreaking to hear news about the acidification and warming of the ocean which threatens all Molluscs acutely. You may still not care much but they are the second-largest Phylum on earth and make up a huge part of the world’s biodiversity. They play a crucial ecological role as such because they simply are everywhere in great numbers. With them gone, I want you to imagine oceans and forests like empty parking lots. Not just emptied of snails, but with only a few nomadic fish passing through as well. There are scientific reasons to oppose this of course, but really, it deadens the soul and that is everyone understands at some level. And with that I want to ask you, dear reader, please organize yourself. Because when others don’t move to create the change we need, it will be your soul on the chopping block.
Thank you for your time.