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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.

For example:

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.

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Did reading the book Escargot give you any questions about snails? If so, we'd love to hear them.

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Did you flip a rock today? Below are photographs of what I discovered. As soon as I get linked up with Wanderin' Weeta, I will post a list of the participants so you can see what everyone found.

The rocks:

A pile of what we call "river rocks" used to stabilize a drainage area. This particular area is mowed grass, so it is irrigated often.

You would expect to find an isopod (also called rolypoly or pillbug), after all there's one on the International Rock Flipping Day badge.

But what is that with the isopod?

What is that brownish coiled object in the lower right of the photograph?

It is a tiny snail! There's another with its head out.

It's blurry, but definitely a snail. Finding snails is amazing in this hot, dry climate.

The snail wasn't the only one carrying it's house.

What is the gray object that looks like a small tube of mud? It is moving!

There is some sort of insect larva inside.

I think it is a beetle larva carrying a case. It is most likely a member of the leaf beetle family (Cryptocephalinae). It probably got washed to the drainage area during a recent storm.

Another tiny beetle scurries away.

Mites were common. Here's a brightly colored one.

Spiders were also abundant. This tiny jumping spider seems to have its eyes on something.

Maybe it was trying to catch one of these Indian house cricket nymphs.I don't envy any predator that hunts these.

I know I had trouble capturing them with my camera. The springtails that were everywhere were even worse. I never did get a photograph of them.

Finally, I did find some ants. I posted those results at Wild About Ants.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of creatures I found. And in addition to finding different kinds, I also learned a little bit more about my neighbors that live under rocks.

Did you flip any rocks this weekend? What did you find?

For more information about the creatures featured here try:

Isopods

Indian house crickets

Jumping spiders

Mites

Snails and raising snails