Our school district has a "no fur or feathers" policy when it comes to classroom pets, or even visiting animals. While I understand the rationale behind this policy, it does limit the options we have for bringing live animals into the classroom.
Recently, our class took a field trip to a local forest. While on a nature walk, our guide noticed a leaf on the ground that had a shiny line across it. She stopped and pointed this out to the children, telling them that this meant a snail had left a trail on the leaf and that a snail must be nearby. She challenged them to look carefully for the snail near the trail. I admit, I was skeptical that we would find a snail. However, Mrs. DeNier, one of my assistants, found a snail!! The children were able to get a close look at the snail (although it was holed up in its shell the whole time). We decided to bring the snail back to school with us and make it our classroom pet.
A funny side-story is that I held the snail in my hand all the way back to school on the bus. I have now earned the nickname "The Snail Whisperer" because the snail bravely came out of its shell in my hand and was absolutely fascinating to watch on the ride back to school.
Once back at school, the snail was placed in a temporary home until more suitable housing could be found. Additionally, research was done as to how best to care for a snail pet. It turns out that a container with a bit of soil, a shallow dish of water, and some bark or pinecones for shelter is pretty much all that is needed. We also learned that garden snails can live 10 to 15 years in captivity. So, the joke now is that the snail will be with me for the next decade or so.
Of course a classroom pet needs a name. On the way back to school, our bus driver suggested "Speedy". Later, in a class discussion, the name "Turbo" was also suggested. So........we initially decided the snail would be called, "Speedy Joe Turbo". However, one of the littles kept saying, "Speedy JONES Turbo" which we liked better. So, Speedy Jones Turbo it is.
Below you can see the beautiful habitat we created for Speedy complete with a "foresty" backdrop (more about that in a future post) and a custom made name sign. In the photo the brown blog you can see on the cucumber slice is Speedy.
Miss Moritz, my other classroom assistant, has decided that I could moonlight as a snail photographer. Perhaps this is because I spent about 20 minutes (or more) on a recent Saturday trying to take an amazing photograph of Speedy. One of my best "shots" is shown below. I have gotten even better since that one was taken though. ;-)
If you are paying close attention, you will notice that the title of this post indicates that Speedy has "friends". I have decided to make that the topic of a future post which will show up later this week. Suffice it to say that we are a bit snail-crazy around here. SNAILS ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!