On Sunday afternoon, Pierre found a snail on the patio. He named it Gary - you can tell he's a SpongeBob SquarePants fan ! - and spent the whole afternoon playing with it, watching it slithering around, examining it up close in his bug collector and just generally being totally fascinated by it.
I sniggered and told him he could put his Scalextric racing track outside for his snail to race down then fell on the floor laughing when he did. I was laughing on the other side of my face when Gary happily slithered along from one end to the other and, when Pierre carefully pulled him off and pointed him in the other direction, slithered all the way back again. I don't know who was having the most fun ! When it came to bedtime, Pierre was begging us to let him keep it as a pet ! After telling him it was a wild animal and nobody keeps snails as pets, I went online to prove it to him ... and kicked myself when we discovered that actually they do ! I told him we'd keep it for one night then let it go in the morning then went looking for a suitable container with a lid. The jar for the sponge letters for the bath had drainage holes in the lid for letting out the water so that was ideal - it was also a pretty decent size for a snail.
We put in some lettuce and a twig with some leaves then it was time to brush teeth and get into pyjamas. I fell on the floor laughing when I went upstairs and Pierre was lying in bed watching cartoons with the snail jar propped up on the pillow next to him ! I said it probably wasn't a great idea to put him on the pillow and, when I came back from sorting out the washing, I discovered Pierre lying in the dog basket with the snail jar on his tummy !! They have been totally inseparable and it's actually ended up being a really enriching and educational experience. We've been looking up online what they like to eat and what they need.
We discovered that they actually tend to like living in groups, often snuggling up together to sleep, so we popped back outside the next day and got him a friend ... along with a tiny weeny baby snail that Pierre also excitedly popped in the jar ! The baby one is so small that we had to put a fine mesh over the top of the jar so that it can't escape through the air holes. It's been fascinating watching them slithering up the sides of the jar, Pierre loves watching them munching on the leaves and we've discovered that they do different coloured poo depending on what they've been eating ... carrots give them bright orange poo ! We've also had eggs on the side of the jar but I scraped them off because I didn't want a million more little pets to look after !
When you think about it, a snail is actually the perfect first pet. It's free, you can let it go when/if you get bored with it and if it dies, you could even replace it without anyone being any the wiser ! It's actually very cute seeing Pierre taking such good care of them, making sure they've got enough to eat and splashing water on the leaves so that they can drink, and he's totally fascinated by everything they do. It makes you wonder why we spend a fortune on expensive toys !!