Still Among the Safest

Still Among the Safest

From the C.C. Police Blotter

Last Again!
Yet again this year snails in the uplands of El Yunque come out as one of the least attacked animals in the forest. Once again, we have no major villain, no public enemy No. 1. Predators (animals that hunt to kill and eat) are uncommon in the snail world. 

"Why?" you might ask. Well, your ever-vigilant police force has come up with some reasons for this impressive safety record. First, we are not well noticed. Our living quarters are hard to spot. Our size is small. Our colors blend into the surroundings. These aspects make us little noticed by both humans and predators. Certainly our shells also help. We can retreat into them when danger approaches and not come out until the danger has passed. It is said that humans enjoy snail meat in some parts of the world. This doesn’t seem to be the case in our forest. From time to time curious human hikers, particularly the little ones, pick us up and put us in their pockets, only to forget about us until we are dead. That, however, is very rare.

Though predators are uncommon, some do exist. We must be careful with birds. Several bird species can swoop down with great speed and make lunch out of us before we know what happened.

So, Do We Live Forever?
Well, no. Upland snails in El Yunque don’t live forever. We do live longer than our lowland brethren. Of the C. caracolla that live in the lowlands, in moist areas near the coast, very few young snails survive into adulthood, especially during dry periods. Remember, water loss is our prime cause of death. Young snails dry out more rapidly than adults. In the uplands, on the other hand, most young snails survive into adulthood. Adults can become quite large. One-quarter of the upland snail population is four years of age or older. A number of C. caracolla snails live to the ripe old age of ten, or even longer!

It’s OK to Be Ugly
Let’s congratulate ourselves for being such dull, undistinguished creatures (but don’t let Syndy Snail read this).