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Travels with my snail

September 2, 2011

I spent Sunday evening at the Miniature Music Festival at Gwdihŵ in Cardiff. When I came home to Bristol, and parked my car in a garage, I noticed a Cepaea hortensis was attached to the rear bumper. Evidently it had crawled up there in Cardiff and survived the motorway home. The next day, the snail was still there. I drove to Durham that day, and the snail remained attached for the entirety of the journey, almost 290 miles.

Cepaea hortensis on my car

Cepaea hortensis on my car

I parked my car in the visitor car park of Van Mildert College, close to some bushes. In the morning, the snail had gone – there was a little trail and some excrement left behind, but the trail ended abruptly where evidently the snail had dropped off.

I was impressed at how firmly the snail was stuck to my car. It isn’t hard to see how Hygromia cinctella, a species introduced to Britain in the 1950s,  has become so widespread in such a short time in the era of mass (human) transport. If my snail had been carrying fertilised eggs there would soon be a new population. As it is, if it survives to mate next year, it will be adding something new to the genetic diversity of Cepaea hortensis in the North East.

I’m wondering why it stayed attached the first night. Was the snail aware that it wasn’t in a very good environment in my garage, or is the length of its dormancy related to something else?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lee permalink
    November 9, 2011 6:09 pm

    Sounds like a PhD project. I’ve often wondered why snails cling on so long in one place.

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