Houston Mullinix, age 15, of Westmoreland
Just how fast does a snail crawl?
How long would it take you to walk from Westmoreland to Gallatin, Tennessee? A snail could crawl that distance in one year ‑ if he traveled non‑stop. Of course such a snail marathon is impossible. Mr. Pokey could snatch a passing meal from the leaves. Hut he would get no rest, day or night. What’s more, he is far too sensible to try such a trick. A snail rarely travels more than a few yards from where he was born.
One way to discover his normal speed is to clock him, Place him gently on a sheet of glass and watch from below. Have ready a crayon and a moldy leaf a few inches from his nose to tempt him from wandering. Allow him one minute of travel time after he is well underway, Mark his trail with the crayon and measure the distance.
If he is trying hard, he will cover about two inches in a minute, That is about his top speed. Traveling non‑stop he could cover a mile in 22 days or 17 miles in a year. That is a snail’s pace. Next time someone says you are slow as a snail, you can prove then wrong with those figures,
Watch the snail closely from under the glass and you can see how he does it. You will be amazed to see that he has only one foot. True, it is a big foot and reaches all the way along his underside. He is called a gastropod meaning a stomach‑footed creature. His tribe is Molluscs, which makes him kin to the oyster, the clam and the cuttlefish. Slugs are also members of the gastropod family of the mollusk tribe,
The strong muscular foot of the gastropod is something to watch in action. It is grooved to hold a grip. It contains small glands that give off slippery goo. This makes the slithering easier. The slime dries, leaving a white trail, and you can see where a snail has traveled,
Usually the trail weaves around in curves. The snail does not often travel in a straight line. He is searching for food and not going any place in particular. Notice how the trail leads over twigs and sharp stones,
The snail is not worried about cutting his tough foot. In fact, he can crawl over a knife edge gracefully and in complete safety.
His horns are eye stalks. He takes great care of them and pulls them indoors at the slightest threat of danger. Yet, should he lose them in an accidents he can regrow them, eyes, horns and all.
The snail has no need to travel far or fast, He is born where moldy leaves his favorite food, are plentiful. When the sun is too hot or the air too dry, he rests indoors. His house is always on his back, He can go indoors and secrete a papery layer over his doorway. He dozes inside storing his moisture and waiting for warm, moist air to waken him