Can a snail survive for months on soil alone?

Frothing Snail

Zoe Sadokierski

In the backyard next to the clothesline is a potted bay tree. My parents gave it to us as a housewarming present. Spiders filigree the thin branches with webs and egg pouches, and we regularly pluck leaves for cooking; bolognese sauce without bay leaves is a crime.

During a balcony repair – endlessly prolonged by the pandemic – a peg bucket got chucked in the pot. When I finally got around to moving it, a snail was pressed into the soil underneath. I carefully removed the leaves and sticks from the base of the shell. How long had it been under there – 3 months? Can a snail survive for months on soil alone?

Bubbles appeared at the base of the shell-like seafoam – slowly at first: pop pop pop. As froth started oozing out more rapidly, I warily placed the snail on a rock. I imagined it was angry at me for carelessly burying it, and recalled Cujo, Stephen King’s novel about a rabid dog savaging people. Don’t touch, I warned my fascinated 4-year-old. Imagine being savaged by a rabid snail.

We left the snail to froth it out. Returning half an hour later, a silvery trail disappeared into the mulchy leaves under the Lilly Pilly trees. We searched for ages, but the snail had gone to ground again.

Author Bio: Zoe is a designer, educator and amateur naturalist.

Location: Leichardt, NSW, Australia