Did you ever notice the similarities between the snail and the slug? Well, we did. As far as we could tell, the only real difference was that the snail had a house on its back. Other than that, they both were ugly, slimy, and left trails of mucous on the sidewalk (slugs and snails will never get lost as they always leave a trail behind them; like bread crumbs), and were extremely slow (we didn’t need Vicki to help us catch either of these creatures).
Once located, either one of them could be observed, untouched, for an extended period of time as they slowly moved down the sidewalk. For some reason, as we observed (observation is usually the first step taken in a scientific investigation) this mollusk moving along the sidewalk, the thought entered our minds; is there any salt around here? Now, what put that thought in our minds, I cannot say. Some would say Satan, but my guess is it was one of the older kids in the neighborhood. Into the house we went.
Timmy asked Mom, “Mommy, do we have any sahwt?”
Suspicious, Mom answered, “Of course we do. What do you want it for?”
Before Timmy could spill the beans, er, tell the truth, I interjected, “We are doing a scientific experiment, and salt is needed in order to complete it.”
Mom was impressed and said, “That sounds very nice. I love it when you kids learn things. How much do you want?”
Outside we went with the salt shaker in hand. The slug had gone another couple of inches down the sidewalk (this particular slug was in pretty good shape and moved rather quickly as slugs go). We all got down on our hands and knees, surrounding the slug, and I poured the salt from the shaker onto the slug. It recoiled in agony and began to shrivel up. As I moved closer to the slug, to observe the effects of the salt, I could have sworn I heard this coming from the slug (having recently seen The Wizard of Oz, what I heard sounded very familiar):
“Aaaahhhh! You cursed brats! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting, melting. Ohhh, what a world, what a world. Who would have thought that some little kids like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Ooohhhh! Nooo! I’m going… Ohhhh…ohhhh…”
So much for the slug. If it worked on the slug, why not a snail? But where could we find a snail? I asked my brother, “Timmy, have you seen any snails?”
Timmy, always intrigued with my ideas, said, “I saw one in the cohnuh house’s ivy the otheh day. Maybe it’s stiw theh.”
With salt shaker in hand I said, “Let’s go.”
After digging through the ivy for a half hour, we finally spotted a snail; crawling, sliming through the dirt right off the edge of the sidewalk. We refrained from touching the snail, not because it was dangerous, but because we were afraid it might be. A stick we held in hand continually blocked its path, eventually steering it onto the sidewalk where we could conduct our experiments in the open.
Snails, as well as slugs, have a couple of antenna like tentacles’ extending from their heads and on the end of each tentacle is the eye. Part of the experiments we conducted included the tentacles and eyes of the snail. As we put anything close to the tentacles, and at the time we didn’t have any idea that the eyes were located on the ends of them, the tentacle would begin to retract, to the point of retracting all the way into the body. Really neat! Each tentacle operated independently of the other, which was also pretty neat. We waited awhile and the tentacles would again extend out to an inch or so away from the body and the snail would proceed down the sidewalk. Now, back to the original experiment.
If the salt worked on the slug, it should also work on the snail. Unfortunately for us and our experiment, the snail proved to be a much craftier mollusk than the hapless slug. Maybe it was the additional house on its back, but whatever the reason, when we tried applying the salt to the snail, it just retreated into its shell; out of harm’s way. Similar to a turtle, once it went back in its shell it became a waiting game. How much patience did we have? Not much. A couple of times playing out this scenario and we got bored with the snail and moved on. I’m sure that if the slugs would work hard and save enough, they too could afford a mobile home, just like the snails. After all, there’s no place like home.