You humans think of me as boring and quite often a waste of money even though I am one of the most inexpensive items of livestock you can have, a fact my friends and I find quite insulting!
Many of my relations you seem to cherish, such as the giant clams. Others pack enough toxins to kill any of you in a matter of hours! (Funny Trivia: Humans—who are so clever—have never seen my friend the Giant Squid alive! Not so clever now, are you?) We even have a TV personality in our mist the one and only Brian the Snail of Magic Roundabout fame.
Who am I? If you have not already guessed, I am a Turbo Snail. You can call me Thomas.
I am quite amazing really, and if you would take the time I would like to introduce myself.
Please amuse me and get a partner, each of you stand on one foot, then try to push each other over whilst moving forward, without putting your other foot on the floor. That is what we snails have to do, how we can walk with only one foot, not only do we have to walk but also hold on to rocks for dear life against the effects of water movement. If we get dislodged and fall off I am afraid we will be going to the great aquarium in the sky as we cannot right ourselves and are consumed by nasty predators. We have developed a rather special mucus, you know the stuff my land friends leave behind, and in molecular terms it is quite unique. We produce this mucus composed of 4% proteins 96% water, we secrete it all over our foot, and here it starts to act in a weird way.
How we move forward is to send a muscular wave down our foot, many at one time as a single wave presses down on the mucus, pressure is applied, as it moves off that point, pressure is released. The mucus behaves in different ways with this pressure, apply pressure and it acts as a lubricant allowing movement, release pressure and it acts and a glue keeping myself firmly attached to the rock. So with one foot we can move and stick at the same time.
Now to our feeding habits, most of you know that we like a bit of the green stuff, we are not to keen on long strands of algae as it is not the best, what we really go for is the short nutrious new growth. (It’s like frying steak vs. the best filet steak.)
You think sharks have lots of teeth? Well, they are like toothless wonders compared to our armoury. What we proudly display is what’s known as a radula, this is like an endless roll of sand paper with thousands of teeth attached, I personally have 68 teeth across the front width of mine with thousands lined up behind, the total length of my radula is twice the length of my body and as long as I breath it is being produced. We eat by pressing the edge of our radula on the rock surface and then dragging it back towards our mouths. The algae is scrapped off and trapped in between our teeth like paint on course sandpaper, and bon appetite. Lovely.
There are more wondrous things about myself: my shell production (which requires lots of calcium, so add it to your aquarium), how we reproduce, and try looking at my many different friends in the snail world, all are worth checking out, but hunger is forcing me to leave you at this point.
For the aquarium we are good workers. Sand-living snails will clean your substrate as well, so please don’t turn your nose up at us—we are far more interesting than you think!
Out with my tooth file for a quick sharpen, and a rasping we will go.
Thank you for your time and I hope to see you soon.