TITLE: Welcome to My World!!
By Edwina Cowgill
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Welcome to My World
ďHello! My name is Sammy. Sammy Snail. Welcome to my world!
I am a snail Ė a mollusk Ė that means I donít have a spine, but I do have a shell that is spiral shaped. When I was born, almost 10 months ago, my shell had started forming but was very weak. I had to have calcium right away to help the shell begin to get strong, so I ate the egg I was hatched from. Then I crawled out of the nest my Mommy and Daddy had buried my egg in to protect me until I was ready to hatch. When I crawled out, I was colorless and almost transparent.
My color began to appear when I was a few weeks old. I was a light blue. My shell continued to grow with me and by the time I was 3 months old, I looked like a smaller version of my Mommy. Now my body is gray and my shell has beige and brown stripes that go around and around it.
I have one foot Ė here, let me see if I can flip over and show you Ė there! See that muscle at the back of my shell? Thatís my foot. This muscle moves up and down helping me to glide along. I also have this stuff called mucus (your Mommy probably calls it slime) that makes a slippery trail wherever whatever I crawl. The mucus makes it easier for me to move. It even helps me hang upside down on plants and trees, which is way cool, dude! There are other animals that crawl like me Ė snakes, caterpillars and centipedes. They can crawl faster than me but I eventually get where I want to go! Now, let me flip back over. Oops Ė landed on my side. Dude, can you help me out here? Thanks!!
My shell protects me. My Mommy showed me how to wiggle back into my shell if I sense danger. I canít hear but I can sense danger by smell. I donít really have great eyesight, but what I do have helps me see danger up ahead. There are two sets of tentacles on my head. The longer tentacles are called eye stalks and my eyes are on top of the stalks. The tentacles below my eye stalks are shorter and thatís where my sense of smell is located. So when I smell or see danger, I can push my body back into my shell so no one or no animal sees me.
My Mommy and Daddy warned me that because I canít crawl fast, I can get in trouble. I move very slowly, only about 1 millimeter per second. There is a lot of danger in this garden for me and I have to watch out for it. (Itís kinda like when your Mommy tells you not to talk to strangers and run away as fast as you can!) Many animals would like to eat me for lunch. Snakes, frogs, turtles, chickens, ducks and geese would find me a tasty treat for lunch or dinner.
Even humans like to have me for dinner! In many countries, including America, snails are considered a deli-ca-see (boy, thatís a big word for a 10 month old!). When snails are served as a delicacy, our name is changed from snails to es-car-go (another big word!). The chef leaves the snail in its shell and after cooking it, puts garlic and parsley butter on the snail Ė uh, escargot. Iíve heard we snails are quite delicious served that way. Fresh escargot has an earthy taste and is a little chewy. Usually when your Mommy and Daddy have escargot, it is served with a dinner roll. The roll has a nice crust on it, kinda like the escargotís shell. It is buttered, just like the escargot. Once the escargot is eaten, your Mommy and Daddy can take the roll and dip it in the remaining sauce. I suppose itís good, but I canít imagine why anyone would want to eat something as sweet as me - but there you have it!
Before you met me, you may not have thought I was very smart. But did you know that I have a brain? Itís a lot simpler than your brain but I am capable of associative learning. Thatís just a fancy term that means I can relate two things, usually words, together. Like snake and danger. Or plants and lunch. Get it??
Just because Iím a little fella that crawls on the ground doesnít mean I donít have rights. I have rights just like you. I was put on the earth for a purpose. My job is to eat dead plants which helps break them down. If I lived in a pond or lake, my job would be to eat algae to keep it from spreading.
I have the right to eat. In this garden where I still live with my Mommy and Daddy, there are a lot of yummy green plants we eat. Now that Iím older, I can eat bark off of some of the trees. My tongue is kinda like yours except it has rows of tiny teeth that help me scrape bark off trees and leaves off limbs. For dessert, we eat fruit.
I also have the right to have a place to live. We snails thrive in moist and humid areas. Thatís why my Daddy built us a nest house under this tree next to the creek. Itís always moist here because of the water from the creek.
Itís been lotsa fun talking to you, but here come my two bestest friends, Slime and Slowpoke! Hope you enjoyed your visit to my world!Ē
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