How traumatic do you think looking after a little girl's pet snail while she is on holiday can be?
Well let me tell you.
Last week my boys got asked if they would look after Mrs Snail (giant African land snail) for Miss P while she goes on her holiday. They had only had her a week but hey how difficult can it be to spray a snail twice a day, her tank and soil to keep it moist and humid and put lettuce and cucumber in twice a day, even I can cope with that!
The responsibility I felt though when on day 3 she disappeared. I wondered if we had a Houdini on our hands as the tank was shut and she had been there when I went to bed and I was the first up, although I do admit to checking the dog's bed for snail shell fragments! How can a snail disappear?
By burrowing, that's how. We eventually found her by gently digging through the soil, so I left her thinking she was sleeping. When she hasn't materialized by that night or eaten I got really concerned she had buried herself to die so located her again and gave her shell a very gentle tug, there was still suction so I calculated she must still be alive. Two days later though I was at my wits end, how was I going to tell a 6 year old her pet was dead which she had only had a week?
Day 6 I got up to find Mrs Snail had eventually moved, still burrowed deep but moved nonetheless and was sitting on 100's of tiny white balls. Initial thoughts included the boys trying to feed her polystyrene balls from the bean bags, however a quick consult of the oracle that is Google confirmed said balls to be eggs usually in numbers of 200-300. Further research suggested these could all possibly hatch and I should humanly destroy them.
Who would have thought a snail could cause so much trauma. Not feeling like I could do this without consulting the owners the boys saw the eggs and quickly determined by themselves what they were, so tears were shed when I explained I would have to remove them. Speaking of which I really need to remove them from my freezer now as they only need 48 hours to no longer be viable.
I am also pleased to report no further eggs were laid while under our care and she returned home alive and active.