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Get a snail from your garden. Put it in a jar, with some green leaves and a stick. Make a lid for the jar with a nylon stocking and rubber band. Generally, snails like young tender leaves; not old gnarly ones that have fallen off an oak tree.

After Mr. Icky gets over being shy, he will start moving around looking for a meal. Watch him move! He doesn't have legs like we do, or wheels like a car has. How do you suppose he can cruise around without legs or wheels?

How do you think he can find food? How do you think he can choose which leaves he might like and which not? Does he have a nose? Does he have eyes? I think snails have eyes on stems - those things that look like horns. Maybe not. You will have to read about snails and find out for yourselves. I think that snails have an olfactory ("OLE-fack-te-ry") organ in that platform on which they move. The platform is actually called a "foot."

Where is the snail's mouth? Do you think snails get lonely? Why not put another snail in there, and see if they become friends.

Watch Mr. Icky climb on his stick. You could time him to see how long it takes him to ooze all the way to the top. You could make a note regarding his speed. Like how many inches per hour. What is the shiny stuff that is left on the stick as Mr. Icky climbs? How does Mr. Icky stick himself to the side of the jar? Why do you suppose he does that?

You could get a few more jars with stocking lids and put other creatures in there to compare their feeding and moving habits. Maybe a couple grasshoppers, caterpillars, or worms.

While you have animals for your projects, remember that they are living beings. It is important to be kind to them. Give them the stuff they need for food, some water, and something for them to do. It is a good idea to return them to nature once you have made your observations.

Okay. The brilliant encyclopedia tells us about snails. They are mollusks, of the class Gastropoda. Mr. Ikcy has a coiled or spiraled one-piece shell. His head has sensory tentacles (I guess those would be his eyes on stems) and a mouth with a rasp-like tongue called a "radula" (RAD-you-la). It says here, "The ventral surface of the animal is modified into a large, flattened foot, which, along with other soft body parts, can be withdrawn into the shell..." "Most gastropods are marine, but there are forms that live in fresh water and on land."* The abalone, also, is a gastropod.

(* Concise Columbia Encyclopedia.)


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