E is for Escargot in my A-Z blog challenge because I didn’t want to wait for S. My photo, “Dangling Snail” seen later in this blog was chosen for the Editor’s Picks for the Best of Bugs category hosted by the Weather Channel. You can see it here image #12: http://www.weather.com/news/news/best-of-bugs
So on the heals of that announcement, I thought I would revive my blog on snails this week.
I knew that the success of this blog post was going to be decided by whether or not a snail was going to cooperate with me. My daughter brought me two snails this week. Considering that the snail is thought of as the slowest animal, you would think that photographing one would be easy. I found out that snails are either shy, or moving in strange circular movements that require lots of shifting and strange shooting postures from me. They are silly little things.
Not to be confused with a slug which does not have a shell, this species of snail has two pair of retractable tentacles in front with the eyes found at the ends of the longest pair of tentacles. The shell holds all the internal organs and a foot moves the snail forward and provides the suction requires to hold onto surfaces.
Snails have to maintain moisture. On hot days they will pull their body all the way into the shell. Snails are nocturnal which is why this guy probably wasn’t too thrilled about a morning session.
Snails are known for the trail of slime they leave behind. This slime is what is allowing him to maneuver these acrobatic feats you see. The slime acts like a glue and is very strong. How strong you ask? Well, I guided him to this flowering hosta stem for some photos…
I thought I had finally found a place to photograph him where he couldn’t get away. WRONG. He produced a long string of slime to lower himself just above the ground and then dropped. I couldn’t believe it.
Here are a few facts and myths about snails: 1) Snails move at a rate of approx. 55 yards per hour.
Fact 2) Snails live anywhere from 5-15 years
Fact 3) Snails are hermaphrodites (they have the reproductive organs of both males and females.)
Fact 4) Snails are very strong and can lift up to 10 times their own body weight in a vertical position.
Fact 5) Their slime or mucus protects and lubricates the surface they are on so well that they could move across a razor blade without getting cut.
Fact 6) It is a common myth that the slime of a snail is full of bacteria. You should always wash your hands after handling an animal, but they don’t excrete anything harmful.
Although they can be tricky, I find snails to be great macro subjects… First of all, they can’t fly away. That is a big plus, especially if you are new to the macro scene. Patience is key when photographing any insect, but it is nice when your hours don’t involve picking up your tripod every few seconds. That is not to say that snails are slow and easy. They move really fast when you are trying to nail focus on a small depth of field. None-the-less, they are easier to coax in the direction you want, and don’t offer too many surprises.
Another reason snails are nice to photograph is that they aren’t shy. It usually takes five minutes tops for a snail to “come out of his shell.” They always seem less threatened each time I touch them and have a faster recovery time of reappearing. I often spend two plus hours photographing a subject for a full length CFF so that is a gift to me.
Snails can be really beautiful if you give them a chance. They all have different nuances in their shell design, they have lovely curves, and if you expose them to a flattering light, they have a rare translucent quality that is unique to the snail. Okay, I know many of you look and snails and say, “ewww, slimy.” That is true, but it is irridencent slime.
Snails convey personality. They seem curious. Whenever a creature can come across as having a personality they become a favorite for me.
This one seems confused.
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