My girls burst through the door after piano lessons today, exclaiming, "Mom, there's hundreds of snails outside!!!" One said, "Really! Millions!"
And then, the question I knew was coming, "May we PLEASE get some for pets?" I momentarily struggled. Snails are just slimey. Oozey. Was it a snail I once poured salt on, or a slug? And, as I was preparing dinner at that very moment, I also thought, but didn't explain, how escargot is made. And then I thought of my mom letting me bring home a kitten one day to live with us. I always said I wanted to be cool about things like she was. "Ok. But you'll need to read up on the internet how to care for them."
And so they each brought home a massive sampling. They already had names. Rascal. Yagmur. ("Rain" in Turkish.) The little snails are having to share a very small space (an ice cream container) with each other.
I went online and I found out the following:
1. They devour strawberries with relish.
2. They can get sick from tap water. (I have to buy them bottled?!)
3. They like cooler temperatures (should be happy in my house).
4. Do not overcrowd snails. They will get sick and die. (Note: make girls put some back tomorrow.)
And finally...5. Slugs and snails are hermaphrodites, meaning that each slug has both male and female parts. Because of this, any pair can breed. Some slugs and snails will act as a male one time and then a female the next time they mate. Other times, both will play both rolls at once and fertilize each other simultaneously (which makes for a lot of babies). Many species can even reproduce when alone, and even if you keep only one slug or snail, you may be surprised by eggs!
So, the middlers came into Firstborn's room and we began snipping a plastic wrap lid with airholes. I casually explained point number 5. One of my daughters, I won't detail which one, had a HORRIFIED look on her face. The other burst into laughter and said, "We thought they were kissing!" I don't guess I'd looked at them closely enough at this point to realize that perhaps mating among the little colony may have already begun.
Firstborn immediately decided to cull based on the information I shared. She chose two to be returned to the wet sidewalks of Ankara. Now, as I type this, CC informed me that while I was on the phone earlier, the middlers came downstairs, promptly donned their rain boots (with pajamas) and returned ALL their snails to the wet outdoors. I guess the thought of mating snails with a not-so-secure lid creeped them out. (Creeped Out was their exact word.) They said they'd never be able to sleep, thinking of them escaping and slugging around all over them while they slept.
I know Firstborn, though. (I sometimes call her Templeton.) She'll keep them, study how to raise them, and give it her best shot. And perhaps if they continue in their hermaphroditic ways, I'll give escargot my best shot.