A few days ago, I experienced an annoying thing, which has already happened many many times to many many of us before, and that is to accidentally step on a snail. If you step on a snail, you hear that unmistakably sad sound when the unfortunate little fella's shell cracks. In the majority of the cases, the shell (and the snail) suffers a serious damage, so all you can really do, no matter how bad it sounds, is to crush the snail and to put it out of its foreseeable misery. No matter how hard you try, without the shell, the snail dies.
I was tiding up the garden when I found about six snails behind the bin, so I tried my best to migrate them to a safe spot. But, unfortunately, I did not see the seventh which ended up under my foot. Then I heard the crack sound and I instantly started feeling sad...
...though very quickly I thought that there could be a solution. Luckily, if the snail's body is intact and the crack is not involving the entire structure, there may be hope! I went online and I found a webpage with a very positive (click here to see the post) solution to the problem and I thought I would try and help the snail recover its shell in a natural way. I also thought that I could write up my experience, so in this blog post, I will share daily updates with photos so you can follow Clarence's (this is the name of my little patient), our Garden snail (Cornu aspersum) recovery and daily life.
>>> Posts come in timely order; scroll down for the latest updates <<<
>>> 26 July 2018 <<<
Day 1, the accident happened, the recovery process officially started by moving Clarence in a suitable plastic tub. I do not think, it needed water, but since keeping the snail wet and in a relatively humid environment, I thought a small amount of water could make the tub's atmosphere a little bit more suitable. I also put some fresh lettuce in the tub which is both food and shelter to the snail. Snails eat mostly vegetables and fruit, so I also added some blueberries to the 'hospital room'. I also made sure that I regularly checked Clarence and sprayed water on him, especially in the cracked open area which looked quite large once I removed the broken pieces.
>>> 27 July 2018 <<<
Day 2, I had a closer look at the affected area. Well, it did not look good, but it also did not look hopeless. I carried on spraying water on it. By the end of the day, a thin, slimy layer started developing which looked good.
>>> 28 July 2018 <<<
Day 3, Clarence is much livelier than the other days. I am not entirely sure if he eats yet, but it is good to see him being more active. I have also cleared out his tub and gave him fresh lettuce leaves, celery and pepper slices. He likes sliding on the tub's lid, so we have had a closer look at his shell and we also tried to catch some of his facial expressions.
>>> 29 July 2018 <<<
Day 4, it is a Sunday and it even feels like a Sunday. Clarence is also sleeping most of the time. I gave him a nice slice of fresh apple today and I have also got a small piece of cuttlefish bone sorted for him that is a good source of calcium and it should help him rebuild his shell faster.
>>> 30 July 2018 <<<
Day 5, Clarence still sleeps a lot which I assume is both its natural daily cycle and an energy-saving method during the shell-recovery period. Although, when awake, he seems to be very curious about the environment that hosts him and then he looks really lovely.
>>> 02 August 2018 <<<
Day 8, Clarence sleeps most of the time and he has not been very active in the last few days, so today I decided to wake him up and make sure he goes for a little 'slide'. I also washed his shell to make sure that he gets enough water and will not dry out. He seemed very happy about it and had a little exercise on my hand.
>>> 07 August 2018 <<<
Day 13, it looks like that our snail's shell is healing much slower than anticipated; however, Clarence itself looks fine and he is happy to wander and explore when awake. He has been sleeping a lot recently, so I felt the need to make him a more exciting environment where he has more stuff to climb on and it is just generally a bigger space. I have used a cake box for the purpose which is great in many ways: lightweight, spacious, secure and it is portable. I think he likes it so far!
>>> 09 August 2018 <<<
Day 15, the great thing is that after moving only two days of relocating Clarence into the cake box, he has completely livened up and likes wandering and exploring his new home. In fact, I can hardly see him sleeping now, he is always up for a little discovery. Another good thing is that there is evidence that he is eating which is a fantastic thing and it is very welcome.
>>> 13 August 2018 <<<
Day 19, when you have a pet snail or you, like me, look after a snail while that is in a recovery process, try to create an environment that looks almost like the snail's native wilderness. It is definitely a thing to install hiding places - for this purpose I use a clay plant pot which is very loved and used by Clarence.
>>> 19 August 2018 <<<
Day 25, Clarence has been with us for almost a month now and it is good to acknowledge how much his shell has recovered during this month. One thing is sure, recovering a large portion of snail shell that is damaged takes a lot of time and I suspect Clarence will be with us for a very long time. His shell looks awesome though, good to see that he can actually cover the damaged part so successfully.
>>> 29 August 2018 <<<
Day 35, recently we have experienced the 'white bug' (Riccardoella limacum ~ Slug mite) infestation. I read up on the topic and found that a type of predatory mite (Hypoaspis miles, pictured below) might be a solution, so I bought a good army of these little fellas. Read more about mite-related problems.
>>> 02 September 2018 <<<
Day 39, the predatory mites did a great service, but unfortunately, they could not stop the infestation. This might be because my predatory mite army was outnumbered by the white mites. Eventually, I decided that I would fully sterilise Clarences's place. I bought a brand new bag of soil which I put into the oven for about half an hour at about 100°C. I also washed and sterilised every other item that Clarence had in the box. As the last thing, I also thoroughly washed Clarence, so made sure to do as much as possible to eradicate the white mites.
Come back for regular updates!