воскресенье, 25 августа 2013 г.

Gastropods are animals whose bellies are their legs. Snails are gastropods, they are known for their slow motion. With the use of tiny light emitting diodes (LED) of different colors attached to tiny electric battery cells and stuck to the shells of snails scientists made a video of how snails move in the night. It appeared that their speed may exceed 1 meter per hour. This is enough for exploring an average UK garden in a single night. In 24 hours a snail may travel up to 25 meters.

Earlier research conducted with the use of crowdsourcing has shown that snails can navigate, and if you drop some of them in a neighbor's garden, part of those will eventually return into your garden. Or they may go to your neighbor by their own will and then return to yours or decide to stay at the neighbor's, or move even farther. The same is applicable to slugs, close relatives of snails, also gastropods, but without the shell.

Snails and slugs may eat some leaves on the plants in your garden, otherwise they are harmless. For you. But they may be deadly for your dog, if you have one. Travelling around, they may transfer a parasite called Angiostrongylus vasorum by eating excrements of one dog and being accidentally eaten by another dog, which may come across a snail while walking in the garden. This is a small worm of the Nematoda phylum, which likes to live in lungs of dogs and foxes, feeding on those lungs, causing severe breathing problems and eventually death of the affected animal.

In the past decade the population of snails has increased by 50%. Angiostrongylus vasorum worms, which earlier were registered mainly in the south of the UK, are now endemic for the whole country. Reports from some other European countries indicate that this problem is on the rise there too.

In another set of observation it was shown that snails prefer to move along a trail left by other snails. Pet owners are suggested to check regularly nooks of their gardens for snails and destroy them to keep their population under control and to reduce the chance of their dogs to eat snails accidentally.

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