A writing friend recently introduced me to the cutest fiction picture book about a snail, Escargot by Daska Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson.
You can see for yourself. Sophia reads the entire book in this video:
Although I usually feature nonfiction, fiction children's books like this one may also inspire us to investigate scientific questions.
Do snails eat carrots?
Yes, they do. When we raised them years ago, our brown garden snails ate carrots. It was easy to find videos of other kinds of snails eating carrots, too.
What is a snail's mouth like?
A snail scrapes off food with a radula, which has teeth like a saw blade.
Do snails really have eyes?
Yes, but not where they are shown in the book.
The snail eyes are the black spots at the ends of the upper feelers or tentacles.
What are those other things sticking out of a snail's head?
The lower feelers or tentacles help the snail taste or smell its food.
Where do snails come from?
Adult snails lay eggs.
Tiny baby snails hatch out of the eggs, complete with tiny shells. Their shells get bigger as they grow.
Would a snail really like vinaigrette on its salad?
No, the vinegar in the vinaigrette could harm a snail.
Did reading the book Escargot give you any questions about snails? If so, we'd love to hear them.
In answer to a question that came in this week about raising snails, I have put together a few resources for you.
We raised brown garden snails, which are a commonly considered to be a pest species. We kept them in gallon-sized jars (sun tea jars work well) with a fabric (light cotton) cover. The cover was simply held on with a rubber band. We tried moist soil in one container and wet paper towels in the other. The paper towels were easier to clean and the snails sometimes used the towels for food. We were vigilant to keep the towels moist.
The soil was more of an issue, because we soon had an overgrowth of springtails and sowbugs that we had accidentally added with our garden soil. The soil was also harder to keep free of rotting vegetable matter. (Hence the extra critters). Snails need to be cleaned frequently.
You will need to add sources of calcium, like egg shells. We gave the snails egg shells that we washed out. We also gave them a number of different leafy vegetables.
The snails laid their eggs in the paper towels or under the soil. In no time we had a lot of snails (you probably should have an "exit plan" such as friends that are willing to take some off your hands). Taking care of snails and watching their life cycle was a great way to learn about a creature so different from our fuzzy pet friends.
The book Snailology by Michael Elsohn Ross, Darren Erickson (Illustrator), and Brian Grogan (Illustrator, Photographer) is also a wonderful resource.
To learn more try:
Anatomy of Snails has labeled photographs of snails parts
Kiddyhouse has worksheets for the younger set, including a diagram to label and a garden scene with snails to color.
Science Buddies has Can Copper Foil Snails?