Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unsolicited Pets

Unsolicited pets

In this family, we love animals. We have a few pets: two cats, a dog and a horse. We had a rabbit for ten years, and he died back in the spring of 2011. Mike and I have had a few fish in our time too.

Once in a while, the boys try to bring home new pets. Jamie has been known to catch salamanders on occasion, and sometimes snakes too. He is also prone to bringing bugs in the house to show me, and then declare his intention to keep them as pets. Fortunately, I have veto power when it comes to the critters entering this house. Last year, we had a vole for a while, but that was accidental. It was never invited, and it was swiftly uninvited after I saw it run across my bedroom floor.

Uninvited pets are the worst. Usually they are the creepy-crawly variety, or the scurrying type. I’m not one who fears rodents, but I certainly don’t welcome them to run freely in my house. (Incidentally, I’d take a mouse over a large spider any day, and we do currently have a spider infestation.)

Earlier today, I saw a tall glass of water sitting on one of the end tables in the living room. I thought it was strange, because Mike is the only one in the house who drinks out of that type of glass. (Yes, I know that’s weird, but we are all rather particular about our beverage vessels, except for Mike. I drink everything out of a freezie cup, and the boys use Tupperware, and Lauren is still using sippy cups. But this post is not about O.C.D., so I digress.)

I picked up the glass because my first thought was, “Somebody’s going to dump this.” But when I picked it up, I noticed there was a whitish, slimy film on the water surface. I said something brilliant, like “Ew, gross! What did you guys do to this water?” because it had particles at the bottom that led me to believe they had filled it with sand. (Hey, it has been done before. Many times, as a matter of fact.) Jamie, who sounded somewhat offended, informed me that those were his snails.

My eyes probably bugged out a bit at that, but I accepted that as a pretty normal answer. I did a double take, and sure enough, there were snails in the glass. Small, but easily identifiable. I moved the glass to the half-wall by the staircase, not wanting Lauren to get her hands on it. My initial fear of the glass getting dumped was immediately trumped by a fear that she might drink out of it. Blech!

Fast-forward several hours. Just now, Jamie was examining the glass and made a comment about Slimy. (Great name, right?) Slimy, as it turned out, was a Houdini wannabe. He was almost at the top of the glass, and seemed to be moving along, albeit at a snail’s pace. I commented that he was trying to escape and Jamie said the other snails were dead. I frowned and examined the glass more carefully. There were several very tiny dark specks at the bottom of the glass, but they were not snails. I told him there were no other snails in there, and it looked more like snail poop or something. (Hm. Remind me to throw out that glass later…)
Then Jamie had an epiphany of sorts. It was something like, “Hey, where are all the other snails?” Then I had an epiphany. It was sort of like, “Hey! Where are all the other snails???” I asked him how many there were. He said six. Now there was one. It turned out Slimy was actually in the bottom of his class, or glass, and was way below average on the Houdini rating. Jamie went into the living room and checked the floor near where the glass had been on the half wall. He found one and declared it dead, because it had lost its slime. Being a non-expert on all things slug, I told him to put it back in the water and see what happens. Then we went over to the end table. Sure enough, two more snails were recovered, also clinically dead.

Wait, that’s Slimy, plus the first dead one…plus two more dead ones…Uh oh. That only makes four. Didn’t he say there were six snails? So now, there are two rogue snails somewhere in my house. Maybe dead. Maybe alive. Possibly still slimy. Definitely unwelcome.

So I just went and checked on them, and one was almost on the rim of the glass, and another one was out of the water, catching up. At first glance, the other two were dead. But as I watched them, they began to stretch out their necks (do slugs have necks? Or are they 100% neck?) and crane their heads around, no doubt feeling a little inferior to their buddies. I took some pictures. 

This first one is one of the ones that Jamie found on the carpet. Judging by where he was, he was out of the water for a much shorter period than his unfortunate buddies. You can see here he has made it to the top of the water. 

Here's the show-off, that was actually left behind in the first place. 

The second snail is catching up. I think I'll name him Turbo.

He's closing in. They are neck in neck. Wait, that's complicated when all they have are necks. 

Here are the unfortunate other two. I wish I could have posted video, but they are definitely alive down there. I just don't know how much longer that will be the case. Poor things.

I have to admit, it was kind of cool watching their tiny antennae moving back and forth in slow motion, checking things out around them. I brought the boys in to observe them. This is how a non-homeschooling mom home schools her kids. (Because we all homeschool our kids, even those who send them to school.) But oh, it turns out, snails stink. That's what I learned today.

UPDATE: This just in. All four snails have scaled the glass. I have placed a loose fitting lid over the top so we will have no more escapees, but all of them are either on the "ceiling" or near it. Also, I have just been informed that their names are as follows: Slimy, Sticky, Slimy-Bottom, and Wormy. Nice.