great pond snails
The printer is denuded of paper so that welcoming posters could be made, eg POND CREATERS HERE. His dad had strict instructions, if a parcel came, to open it and put the contents in the clear storage box part filled with water two days earlier (so the chlorine would evapourate. Pond snails are fussy, they don't like to be clean. Rather like 8 year old boys.) When we got home from school, they were there, four great pond snails and four ramshorns. I'd got them off Ebay, from Dr something or other, which sounded like they would be healthy. As we inspected the new pets his dad (who had been keeping an eye on them while we were at school) said meaningfully there would be lots of baby snails soon. We watched as two great ponds - slowly - met up and went for the 'special cuddle', falling off the big round lump of marble in the middle of the water, to roll about on the bottom of the box for at least a minute before - slowly- crawling away side by side. The next few hours we saw nearly every one pairing off. I counted and counted, but there seemed to be one missing. Then I saw it poking out from under a slice of cucumber in the corner. Worried it was trapped I reached into the water, turned the cucumber over and went away. When I looked again, it was back under, just the feelers, quivering slightly, poking out. I turned the cucumber over again, and watched, as the snail wrestled it first upright, and then over the top of its shell, as it had been when I found it. Thinking it must be wanting to hide, after it's traumatic time in a tiny plastic food container in the post, I left it alone. Next time I looked, another snail was heading for the cucumber corner. Now someone with similar interests had shown up the cucumber eater came out and did what all the others had been hard at all afternoon; I noticed this was the biggest geat pond snail, the partner only half its size. I had to go to do the washing up. The next time I looked was because my son called me, "He's moving the cucumber about!" The smaller snail had gone off, while the cucumber snail seemed to be trying to move the cucumber slices into a kind of pyramid. My son went to play Transformers and I went back to washing up, but the cutlery later I was stepping over Transformers. I called my son and his dad. The cucumber snail was pushing the smallest slice of cucumber up the side of the tank. As it neared the top the snail detached from the side of the tank, still holding the cucumber in its mouth. It heaved its shell from side to side, making the slice of cucumber wave about in the water, and with every wave, the cucumber got higher, till it was floating on the surface, the snail underneath. We watched as the big snail crawled along the bottom of the cucumber to the edge. As it went up, over the edge, the cucumber went vertical again, but the snail heaved its shell in the opposite direction till the cucumber went flat, like a raft. The snail went into the middle, and just stayed there, floating.
An update from my son before going to bed : "The big snail is eating the cucumber into a boat shape!"
I expect by tomorrow that there will be an outboard motor made from pond weed.
And by next year, snails could be ruling the world (they lay hundreds of eggs at a time)