I pondered long and strong before using the above title. I resisted using the word sex because I couldn’t be sure that the pair pictured near the end of this posting were actually pleasuring one another—I listened carefully and heard no sounds, and I watched intently and saw no movement on the part of either snail. I noted that the pair were head-to-head and appeared blissfully unaware of my presence. I speculated that I was witnessing snail foreplay and with that thought and not wanting to interrupt them, I blushed and averted my gaze.
I googled snail sex and found this fascinating video—yes, fascinating—utterly fascinating. The creatures in the video had shells, very different from the shells mine have, but I figure that shells are shells, so my morning visitors were not slugs—they were snails. As near as I could determine from my online research, a slug has no shell, and a snail has a shell—the creatures share almost every other attribute.
My curiosity aroused, I also googled slug sex and found this video, a fascinating picture of slugs procreating, or at least attempting to procreate. Theirs is a real gymnastic performance, gymnastic enough, I believe, to awaken that green-eyed monster—envy—in many, perhaps most, humans—I arrived at that conclusion through introspection, the contemplation of my own thoughts and desires—not that I would want to be a slug, of course, nor would I want to be a snail.
The two creatures pictured below were lying on the sidewalk near my front door early on a recent morning when I stepped outside to retrieve my morning paper, the San Antonio Express-News, the only daily paper in the seventh largest city in the United States—makes one wonder about the future of daily papers, huh?
As an aside, be forewarned and forearmed—do not send a letter to the editor of the San Antonio Express-News if it includes serious criticism of the paper—the odds are that it will not be printed nor acknowledged. I readily admit that my cautionary statement is based on personal experience—perhaps I criticized the wrong things, or perhaps my criticisms were too strongly worded.
The animals in this photo have shells and are definitely snails, as opposed to slugs. They may be having some sort of sex, albeit it rather sideways—if that be so, I suppose we could refer to that as getting a little on the side–or they may have just stopped to talk things over, to whisper in one another’s ear, so to speak. Or perhaps they are racing, a snail competition in a race akin to the hundred-yard dash in human competitions.
They were still there when I came back with the paper, but had disappeared an hour or so later, either into the grass or into some bird’s belly—Texas grackles are always hanging around, and are always hungry. I hope they were not prey for some bird—the slugs were a nice looking pair, at least as slugs go, and I wish them the best of everything, now and in the future.
If one should ever wonder, as I did, whether a creature is a snail or a slug, just remember this:
Snail rhymes with shell—slug does not.
June 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm
David Attenborough can be counted on for animals having sex, fighting each other or eating each other. The slugs in that clip are quite amazing.
I kept snails as pets when I was a child. They are hermaphrodites and connect side by side, and can stay like that for three days or more. Their offspring arrive in rather a large number. They are the rabbits of the snail world…
June 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Thanks for the visit and the comment. I was not aware that snails were hermaphrodites. I believe that somewhere in this posting I stated that I would not want to be either a slug or a snail, and I’ll stick to that, but if I had a choice I would choose to be a snail, if for no other reason than to stay connected for three days—wow! That’s some stamina!