Have you ever had the pleasure of eating snails? You know those wonderful French delicacies that you pop in your mouth, chew up and then swallow?
I have actually tried one many years ago in my youth in an effort to be ‘open-minded’ but I have to confess that it never got any further than my mouth! It was so chewy that I could not swallow it and before I knew it, I had to spit it out as I issued apologies to the French person who had prepared these delicacies as a treat.
“Sorry ’bout that” hardly cut the mustard at the time, but the thought of eating snails was simply more than I could bear and I opted out. I know they were special snails that had been purged, but even the beautiful garlic parsley dressing on them, did not entice me to swallow.
“Yep, sorry ’bout that! No can do snails.” This reminds me of President Clinton when asked if he smoked marijuana said “Well yes … but I never inhaled.” If someone asked me have I eaten snails, I could say in a similar vein: “Well yes, but I never swallowed.”
Of course, the French do not call them by the common English name: SNAILS. They have a far fancier name than that. It could almost make you forget what you are eating if you called them ESCARGOT eh? Regardless of the name, as long as you see a shell and a slug-like creature sitting inside of it, you KNOW what you are eating. You cannot fancy it up folks so don’t even try.
Now, why am I writing a blog about SNAILS? Okay … ESCARGOT? It is because a new respect for these creatures has been birthed within me thanks to a nature television program about … The Pantanal, an amazing wetland in Brazil which is so health-giving that all the creatures who live there are considered giants of their species.
But why is this so? What makes this wetland so amazing in nutrients that every living creature that lives there thrives? The answer is … SNAILS. Yes you heard me correctly, I did say SNAILS! And this is where my newly gained respect came in. Forget about eating land snails and look at these fresh water ones called APPLE SNAILS and you will never think the same way about snails ever again.
“Now, you might expect my hero of the Pantanal to be one of the large creatures that we’ve already seen, but brace yourselves… My hero… Is this: the apple snail.
And I can tell you that, without this humble animal, the Pantanal wouldn’t – couldn’t – be such a rich environment. But how on Earth can a snail be so important?
The Apple snail spends much of its life on the river bed, safe from most of its predators. It has a fish-like Gill that can remove oxygen from the water, so it can breathe beneath the surface. Here, there’s plenty of food…” living-planet/apple-snail.html
But what the apple snail does is such a fascinating tale that I could not cover it adequately in this blog. Let me just say that these creatures that have inhabited the Pantanal for millions of years, are solely responsible for keeping the waters of the wetland full of nutrients which then feeds animals such as caimans (type of crocodile); giant otters and various types of fish and other species such as giant lilies.
You see, at the end of the wet season after the rains have gone, the wetlands are in danger of becoming a rotting mess and the apple snails are in danger of suffocating because of it, but do you know what happens? Wait for it for it truly amazing:
From its place on the bottom of the water, the apple snail puts forth a giant periscope-like tuber to the surface of the water to help it breathe.
In this way it breathes in enough oxygen to keep it going while it does its job of eating the stinking mess thus filtering the deadly matter inthe waters of the Pantanal. Hey presto … within a reasonably short time, the waters become fresh and full of nutrients. All thanks to millions of Apple Snails! Then the ripple-on effect feeds the creatures of the Pantanal because of its nutrients.
At this point, I feel I must make a public apology to the general snail community for detesting it so much. Surely even the garden variety snails have a use … if only we knew what it was, I thought? Well, after some searching it appears they ARE useful and I found out why. The answer lies in the use of copper; and more especially by using copper tools on the soil. Here is how it works:
As copper is conductive, it leaves no magnetic residue, but rather it connects up any breaks in the magnetic field. So there is less to attract the slugs and snails. They wander over the area, but don’t stop for long, and so don’t need to eat anything. If my thinking is correct, then the slugs and snails play a valuable part in the ecology of the garden.” www.templatenetwork.org/topaz
Yep, even these snails do their part but I am afraid we have learned to see them as pests, but if we were to use copper tools, they are then able to do their part in keeping our gardens healthy. Amazing!
So here is my apology . To all members of the snail community, I say this:
I salute all of you MOLLUSCS! Especially you Pantanal Apple Snails
My apologies for being so judgmental of you all!
And I promise never to try to eat any of you snails, escargots or molluscs ever again … not that that is going to be a hard promise to keep …