Mother Earth's Creature Feature of the Week: "Yellow Land Snails & Painted Turtles"

So the other day as I was working in my garden, I had a visitation by two creatures.

A turtle and a snail.

When recanting it to friends or pondering it in my mind, I mused a couple of questions:

"Where did that snail get that shell? Did he find it? We don't have shells around here, we live in a swamp. Not really seashell haven...this is Squirrel Haven." 
(While I see slugs in the garden, I rarely see a snail with a shell, and definately not one so noticeably big like the beauty I saw the other day!)

and another question:

"I wonder what kind of turtle that was?"
(We see turtles crossing the road about a mile down the road from a pond to the other side to a bog once in awhile. Unfortunately, some don't make the crossing safely. We even tried to get a snapping turtle out of the road once. He was HUGE. Teased him to bite a stick and carryied/dragged him off the road to safety. )

and one more from a friend:

"Both those creatures have houses on their back, and both appeared to you on the same day. I wonder what it means?"
(that, too, was a great thought!)

So, whenever I have a question, I will do a bit of research. It's the years of Parochial school coming back to me, when you asked a nun a question, she would inevitably say, "Look it up."  And so I did.


When looking at hundreds of pics, I believe what I saw was a "Yellow Land Snail." The one I saw had beautiful rings with black and white spirals. While this picture example is pretty, the one I saw was even more beautiful!
Land Snails are Gastropods. Meaning "Stomach Foot". While we think they are slow (a "snail's pace) they can actually travel a meter in 5 minutes. (try finding one after you put one down!) In the course of an evening, this means they can travel the course of a football field and back!

It likes wet, damp weather and leaves a slime trail. If it isn't damp, it can just find a spot, seal itself up and wait for "better weather" as it were. Most snails have lungs, but some have gills! And yes, they have teeth! Lots of little teeth (thousands!) called a Radula. They eat fruits and vegetables.

And NO, he/she (they are hermaphrodites :) didn't FIND the shell. It was born with it and over the years, it grows with the snail. They have to eat calcium to make a good hard shell. The first thing they eat is the egg that they hatch out of. It has been documented that some have even eaten the shells of their sister/brothers.
Snails usually live 5-7 years! I was amazed by this. They actually HIBERNATE. The more calcium they eat, the harder their shells become. I also saw that they use Yellow Land Snail shells for Hermit Crabs to live in.
And speaking of it being a "he/she" , as I said most are hermaphroditic and carry organs of both sexes. They use a "Love Dart" actually injecting a stab of semen into the partner, who will lay eggs in the soil. Reproduction can last HOURS or even a day. (what's not to like about this little guy? :)
A snail is just a Slug with a house. Kinda like a drummer with a girlfriend :)

They don't really "See" like with images on their tentacles, but more like get "light images". Their upper tentacles have their "eyes" while their lower ones are their "feelers". They live on an average 2-3 years with some living up to 30 years! 

So, I was thrilled to find out some of this information!

No, I still don't want them in my garden to ravage at will....and NO, I don't want to eat them, step on them in my bare feet or keep them for a pet.....but you have to admit, they are fucking kewl! :)


The other creature feature in my garden the other day was a turtle. But what kind? I looked and looked at lots of images of the turtle I found (and removed) from my garden. I placed him over the stone cinder block and nestled him in the ferns where he wouldn't be trapped. I found out that I had a visit from an Eastern Painted Turtle. It is a water turtle with a dark, smooth shell. As I said, we live on a wetland/swamp here at Squirrel Haven. There is a swamp across the street, and one out back in the woods. He was traveling to and from, I guess? It's a pretty common turtle for our area.

Here's a very interesting fact!

The sex of turtles is decided by temperature! If the nest is very warm, all the turtles will be females, if not, all the turtles will be males.  The shape of the bottom shell will tell you which sex they are. Flat for females, concave for males.

They are Omnivorous. They eat plants and worms, insects, SNAILS, tadpoles, frogs, fish and carrion. Good little clean up guys!

What eats turtles? Herons, fox, raccoons, fish, snakes, crows, hawks and other turtles.

Painted turtles do not bite, but they can scratch you if you pick them up.
(Kinda reminds you of Wolverine's Adamantium claws, doesn't it? I wouldn't fuck with him....)

Always wash your hands (I had on garden gloves at the time) because their shells carry bacteria. I also learned that MANY of the turtles in NYS are threatened and protected.

If you find a turtle, leave it alone, except if it is in a dangerous location. Move it to safety if possible.

Be wary of snapping turtles, as they can take off FINGERS! They are aggressive and WILL ATTACK.

So go ahead, punk, make his day :)

And for the last question:

Both these creatures have homes that they carry with them. Both appeared to you on the same day.   ("What does it all mean, Basil?")

The turtle is thought to be the wisest of souls, taking it's wisdom day to day.

The snail is thought to mean: protection, perseverence and stability. Sure footing.

The fact that both these creatures have homes with them at all times, tells me to keep plugging away. "Sure and steady wins the race...even at a snail's pace."

And to always remember:

"Home is where the heart is."

Hope you liked today's story :)

The sex of the turtles is decided by temperature. If the temperature in the nest was very warm, all the baby turtles will be females. If it wasn't warm enough, then all the babies will be males.The sex of the turtles is decided by temperature. If the temperature in the nest was very warm, all the baby turtles will be females. If it wasn't warm enough, then all the babies will be males.

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