A Man and Mollusc Production
This is a Man and Mollusc Children's Story
Man and Mollusc (NR 0954775)is owned and operated by
Date: Unknow as yet (March 19,2002) but it should be this year
& Science content
Author of Sammy's
Art and Illustrations
(Only avaiable in book form)
My name is Sammy. I'm a forest snail, from the Gastropod family.
Just now I was telling my friend,
Sadie, the amazing adventure I had this week. In fact, I still can't quite believe
it all happened. I'm a little out of breath, as I spent the last three days
making my way back here. Home again, at last.
I've lived next to Silver Creek with my brothers, sisters and friends for my whole life. We spend our days eating decaying leaves that fall to the forest floor from the big birch and oak trees that line our creek. We also like to eat the algae and moss that grow on the rocks along the edge of Silver Creek.
I love my cool, damp forest home.
Sometimes Sadie, my best friend, and I like to climb our favourite tree. That
one over there near the creek. We explore it in search of the yummy lichens
that grow on the trunk and branches.
That lichen is the best thing in
the world to eat.
Until a week ago, I'd never been farther from Silver Creek than the big maple tree that you can see over there in the distance. Some days I felt very restless and even tree climbing was boring.
As you might know, it's not easy
for me to go anywhere fast. You see, while you have two feet, I only have one
foot to glide along the ground with. Actually, there are a lot of jokes out
there about me. I have a reputation for moving very slowly.
And . sigh it's true.
That's why I didn't think I'd ever get to go anywhere exciting or do anything new and different.
But that all changed last Saturday.
Last week, I was a little way upstream from here, near that smooth, grey rock over there, when I heard a loud crunching sound.
CRUNCH, SCRITCH, CRUNCH, SCRITCH
I looked up and saw a boy walking toward me along the creek bank. I was SO scared! I'd never seen a human before, but Sadie had told me how some people like to eat us. Some pull us out of our homes and take our shells away for their collections! That kills us! Some humans even like to take us home with them and keep us as pets!
Needless to say, I was shaking in fear. I pulled back into my shell to hide.
What if the boy didn't see me, and one of his big feet accidentally crushed me?
What would happen if he did see me?
Suddenly I felt myself being lifted
high into the air, way, way above the ground. Then just as unexpectedly, I was
plunked into a warm, dark place.
I felt myself being jiggled up and down. It took me quite a while to calm down and figure out what was going on
The boy had kidnapped me!
I couldn't believe it!
What could I do? What was going to
happen to me? I tried not to panic. I tried to remind myself that I had always
wanted to travel, to do something new and exciting. And this was definitely
different. Different and scary!
After a while, it got bright again. I felt myself being placed on some cool, damp soil. But it didn't smell like the ground by Silver Creek!
When I felt brave enough, I stuck my head out of my shell. I wiggled my tentacles around, looking and smelling to get a sense of my new surroundings.
The boy had put me in some sort of a glass cage!
In my new home there was a little pool of water in a lid and some green leaves nearby. After exploring a bit, I realized I was all alone. I munched on some of the leaves, slid through my tiny pond and felt lonely.
Lonely and bored again.
There was no burbling brook here. No yummy algae to eat. I missed my friends and family.
I retreated into my shell and slept.
When I emerged from my shell, I was
surprised to find that I now had company! There was another snail in my new
home. His name was Sandy and we quickly became friends. We shared our stories
about how we each came to be in this strange glass cage.
After a few days, Sandy, and I began to do the courtship dance together. I'd never done this before, but instinctively I knew what to do. Soon we'd each laid a pile of pearly white eggs. We put them in the small holes we'd each dug in the soft soil.
Now this was definitely something new and exciting!
Sandy explained to me that in a week or two the eggs we laid would hatch into baby snails. Tiny little snails that would look just like us!
Just then Sandy noticed that the boy had forgotten to put the screen lid back on our glass home!
We could escape!
It was sad leaving our eggs behind;
but we knew they didn't need us. They would hatch just fine on their own. The
boy faithfully left us lots of water to drink and fresh green leaves to eat
each day. The little ones would be well cared for.
So Sandy and I climbed up the side of our home, leaving a shiny slime trail behind us. We soon reached the rim of our glass cage. And then we were free-well, sort of.
We found ourselves on a windowsill. Looking down over the ledge of the open window, we saw it wasn't too far to the ground outside. To freedom!
Sliding carefully down, we landed in the middle of a wonderful smelling, large garden. I'd never been in a garden before! Sandy had, though, and told me how good the fresh leaves of the bean and cabbage plants were.
I tried some myself. After all, I was having the adventure of a lifetime, and it was making me hungry!
I ate a lot. Sandy was right, this food was delicious. I was so absorbed in enjoying myself, that I didn't even notice that a big woman had entered the garden.
Suddenly the strange woman was running towards me! She was waving her arms and yelling something about the holes I'd made in the leaves of her cabbage plants.
I looked around, but Sandy was nowhere in sight. So, I did the only thing I could think of, I pulled inside my shell and hid. The lady's voice grew louder as she got closer and I started to shake in fear.
Suddenly another sound pierced the air.
It was the sound of flapping wings! I felt myself being lifted. I was flying through the air!
A bird had picked me up in his beak. I'd been rescued from the scary, screaming woman by a crow.
But then it dawned on me-I hadn't really been saved at all! I'd been caught! Caught by a bird with an appetite for snails.
Oh, no. This wasn't good.
Before I could figure out what to do, the crow dropped me! I fell through the air and landed with a painful PLUNK to the ground.
THIS IS IT, I thought. I AM GOING TO BE EATEN!
The bird was going to peck me out of my shell and have me for lunch! I'd be bird food and nothing more. I'd never see Sandy or Sadie or my family again.
But I didn't get eaten, did I? After all, here I am, telling you my story. No, a skulking, orange cat saved me. She had seen the bird land in the yard and came to chase after it.
The bird forgot all about me when he saw the cat! He wasn't going to hang around and risk being pounced on!
I crawled under a leaf, pulled back into my shell and waited for things to quiet down around me. Finally, the cat and bird moved away. I tried to calm down. When I dared come fully out of my shell again it was getting dark.
I'd been away from home five long days by then, and I really wanted to go home. I wished I could have said goodbye to Sandy, but we had been separated back in the garden. I didn't think we'd ever see each other again.
Sad, and still shaking, I started in the direction that I instinctively knew lead towards home.
Home to Silver Creek.
I had to travel a long, long way. It took three days to get here again. It was almost one kilometre from the garden to my forest home. Eventually, exhausted and hungry, I saw the big, old maple tree! Then I saw the creek and the smooth rock I'd been sitting on when I'd first been kidnapped. And beyond that was Sadie!
We were so happy to see each other again. I told her about my adventure, and about Sandy and I having to leave our eggs behind. Sadie told me not to be sad. She and my brother, Silas, had also laid eggs. Soon there would be many, many baby snails to play with!
I am SO happy to be home. Still, I will never forget the eggs I laid in my glass home far away, or my friend Sandy. Nor will I ever forget the cat that saved me from the crow, or the taste of those delicious garden greens Yawn
Tomorrow, after I get some rest,
I think I'll go investigate my favourite tree. I'll look for some new, yummy
mosses to eat
Goodnight now. I think I'll pull into my shell for a long sleep. Maybe I'll even dream about my next adventure.
The Science Behind Sammy Adventure
Sammy Snail is not a specific gastropod. He is a fictitious snail, a composite of a few species of terrestrial snails. Gastropods are the largest class of animals within the phylum Mollusca. Molluscs are the animals that produce the sea shell that so many of us collect. Molluscs are invertebrates; they have no backbone or skeleton. They have a hydrostatic skeleton. These soft-bodied animals rely on pressurized fluid held within the body to act as a skeleton.
Sammy, like many forest snails, is an herbivore. He eats only plant materials such as algae, fungi, molds, lichens and other plant materials. Some snails are beneficial to crops as they eat harmful fungi and molds that grow Sammy moves slowly about on a large, single, muscular foot. Slime (a mucous-like material) is produced by a gland found within his body. This slippery material allows him to slide effortlessly along the ground or up trees. Slime is also used in defense, (it tastes bad to predators), and it helps to keep his body moist. When this slime dries it looks like a silver path, and shows where he has If you plan to keep a snail as a pet or just want to observe it close-at-hand for a while, be sure to read up on its personal requirements or study your snail in its natural habitat first. Notice what your snail requires to keep him healthy. Food, water and a calcium source are required to keep your shelled snail happy and healthy.
If your new snail has been purchased from a store, it is never a good idea to release it into nature when you tire of it. Many varieties of land and water snails can be found in pet shops and if released into a new territory can cause massive damage to the habitat. Find out from local authorities (such as agriculture or forestry personnel) or the store you purchased it from if your pet is a local inhabitant and if it is indeed safe to release it. If it is a known pest or if authorities are not sure, it is best not to set him free. See if the pet shop or authority will properly take care of your pet for you.
Sammy, like most terrestrial gastropods, is a hermaphrodite. This means that Sammy is both male and female. However as in most cases, to reproduce, two snails must copulate and thus exchange sperm. Both snails then lay small eggs from which either a larval stage snail or an actual miniature replica of the parent hatches. Time for this event varies between species.
Land dwelling snails like Sammy have many enemies. Birds, rats, raccoons, snakes, frogs, toads and many other predators, including humans, eat them. (How many of us have not tried escargot? This is the land snail, helix aspersa.) Birds often pull the soft body out of the shell before eating it or they may drop it from great heights to try to break open the hard shell to get at the soft meat.
We hope you and your child have enjoyed "Sammy's Adventure". Avril, Robynn, and Anna have had a great time creating this book for you.
Please visit my Man and Mollusc website
frequently as the site is also an excellent resource, providing extensive data
and images on Molluscs, projects for children, and many links to related sites.
A Man and Mollusc Children's Book
for this page only