Monsoon creatures

9:30 AM

With the rain having made a brilliant come back and bringing us some much needed relief, we headed to the park to soak in the atmosphere and wetness.
Last year we went looking for bugs and other tiny creatures that usually come out during the monsoon. This year we plan on doing the same again, but the caterpillars and millipedes haven't made their come back just yet. Much to the disappointment of Ishita might I add. But, we saw one thing we didn't spot last year :
This is a giant African snail. Last year we only saw tiny ones on leaves never such a big one. Ishita got to see one like the one above at school because a teacher brought one inside during last monsoon for the kids to have a look.
I myself only saw pictures of that event. However, I saw empty shells for years during the Summer lying in the bushes. Ishita always called them sea shells even though they aren't. And, I always wondered how big these snails exactly were (because I knew it had to be snails). The picture above might not really give you much of an idea, so here is another one that will do the trick:
I used my hand to give you an idea, it is indeed nearly as long as my hand. The ones I knew growing up were about half that size and had a round shell instead of a pointy one (but they were your common garden snail, not African giant). But, just the same, I think they are pretty cool little critters. Ishita wasn't impressed, she finds them gross and scary.
I have no idea where she came up with the idea that snails are to be afraid of in the first place. Clearly not an animal that will outrun and kill a human, or even have a stinger with deadly venom. But yup the girl that found caterpillars and millipedes cool last year is freaked out by a giant snail! Go figure

We also spotted a chameleon yesterday. He shook the bushes as we passed by and it was enough to make Ishita cling to me. Last year she was all for going as close as she could to one. It looks like I have my work cut out this season. A diet of pretty princesses cartoons has turned her into a damsel in distress in the making who begged to go home just because...her dress was wet from the rain! Sigh!

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  1. Beatrix7:58 PM

    I hate those giant land snails!!!
    They eat the flowers & vegetables in my garden.
    They are an invasive, non native species from Africa with no predators.
    They harbor a type of meningitis transmissible to humans.
    They are evil!!!!
    KILL THEM!!!

  2. Ok so now that is scary! Seems the sun and heat does kill them though judging by the empty shells I see the rest of the year, how did they end in the subcontinent?

  3. Beatrix11:19 PM

    "The Giant African Snail Achatina fulica is an exotic pest introduced from East Africa to India in 1847 itself. This is the biggest land snail having a protective shell, measuring about 19 cm in length.

    It is very active during monsoon, nocturnal in behaviour and damages crops like papaya, brinjal, beans, okra, cole crops, areca nut, rubber buds, coffee seedlings, orchids, etc."

    The snail eats the leaves, stems, fruits and flowers of host plants causing severe damage to the young saplings especially in nurseries. It also contaminates leafy vegetables with its excrement (The excrement & slime host parasites & meningitis-
    Parasites of Achatina fulica include:

    Aelurostrongylus abstrusus

    Angiostrongylus cantonensis - causes eosinophilic meningoencephalitis

    Angiostrongylus costaricensis - causes abdominal angiostrongyliasis

    Schistosoma mansoni - causes schistosomiasis, detected in faeces

    Trichuris spp. - detected in faeces[11]

    Hymenolepis spp. - detected in faeces[11]

    Strongyloides spp. - detected in faeces and in mucous secretion[11]

    It frequently climbs on papaya and banana plants and clings on the leaf surface thus interfering with cultural operations and affecting the aesthetic value of kitchen gardens and roof gardens too.

    This snail is a hermaphrodite and lays 50-200 yellowish eggs on soil surface. Hatching takes place in about a week’s period and the young ones grow up to a year and reach sexual maturity.

    The life span of this snail is 3-5 years. And those hatching towards the end of rainy season take a long time to mature as they undergo hibernation and aestivation."

    -from an article in The Hindu

    They Must Die!!!
    I stomp them with my crocs & the gardener throws them against the wall.
    (snails have no clotting factor in their blood so any tiny tear in their skin & they bleed to death).


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