Broken Snail

I was on my way to work one day, walk­ing down a hill, when I noticed that there was a rather large snail on the ground. He was about an inch and a half long, his shell a delight­ful con­trast of pink and pas­tel hues to dark brown band­ing. I want­ed to take a pic­ture, but I did­n’t have some­thing to car­ry him to work (where I have an infin­i­ty board and white box), so I decid­ed I’d just grab my cam­era on break and bring him there.

Of course, my break was in a cou­ple hours, and I was pray­ing that he’d still be there when I went out­side. I grabbed the cam­era and tri­pod and ran up the hill, look­ing for a small shell cast­ing a shad­ow on the con­crete.

Thumbnail: A crushed, broken snail and his shell

I found him crushed, splayed out in strands of mucus, most like­ly stepped on by some care­less per­son. Snails can’t live with­out their shells, as the cal­ci­um car­bon­ate struc­tures hold their inter­nal organs. I took a few pic­tures of the trag­ic scene any­way.

When I got home that night, I hap­pened to look at the snaps in quick suc­ces­sion and noticed that parts of him were still mov­ing.

He was still alive.

I took a few frames and over­layed them to make this Flash ani­ma­tion, where you can see his foot wrig­gling, as well as some indis­tin­guish­able entrails that remind me of liv­er. It’s so sad to think that he was left out to die a slow death with his innards exposed.

I would have named him Shelly.


  1. …The ani­ma­tion creeps me the hell out. Cool, but creepy. *Shudders*

  2. Aww, the poor snail. We get a ton of snails here, so it’s not uncom­mon for kids to ride their bikes over the poor things. But because they like to munch on our foliage, I’m not a huge fan any­more :p

    I wish I was play­ing paint­ball today.

  3. @Vi — Yeah, it is rather creepy. But some­times the most beau­ti­ful things are also the most mor­bid.

    @Sophia — Yeah, I was read­ing on Wikipedia how snails can be con­sid­ered pests because of how much veg­e­ta­tion they eat. They’re rare around here though, espe­cial­ly ones that big, so it was some­thing spe­cial.

    It’s fun­ny, Jen only went to play paint­ball because Amy agreed to play. Lin chick­ened out, and they were won­der­ing what oth­er friends would come. So they agreed that you’d have no prob­lem but Steph would be scream­ing the whole time.

  4. awww heart­break­ing. Literally

  5. I did­n’t think I would ever feel bad for a snail…but I do…

  6. I used to tor­ture snails. I would find them after a rain, turn them over and throw salt onto the parts of their bod­ies that looked like gown hems…

    I was five.

    And I still hate worms. I will tor­ture those any day. Dead snails now make me very sad.

  7. I nev­er imag­ined that I’d feel sor­ry for a snail either. I think the fact that the snail is so large and promi­nent from the use of a macro lens, and the way we see his frac­tured shell, is what makes it so trag­ic. That he has a rec­og­niz­able parts to him — a foot, an organ — it almost per­son­i­fies him, allow­ing us to iden­ti­fy.

  8. Hahaha, I can total­ly pic­ture Steph scream­ing. The last (and only( time I played I was the first to shoot Alex (nev­er­mind the fact that it was my only kill all day) but I was so pleased with myself. However, the large bruis­es on my legs weren’t so fun :p We played down in Hollister once but it was sooo hot, like 35C or more. I want­ed to play all sum­mer but we nev­er got around to it… haven’t been able to find a good local out­door place, most of the places here is speed­ball but I kind of like hid­ing in the brush and ambush­ing peo­ple. I bet you guys had a blast! We should go next time I’m up :D

  9. Aw that’s so sad!

    When I was lit­tle I col­lect­ed snails in a lit­tle tup­per­ware con­tain­er. I had moss and dirt in there, and every once in a while I would add water. Then I would put fish food in there to grow nas­ti­ness for them to eat. They lived for years, until my mom decid­ed to release them. But they were hap­py snails when they lived with me!

  10. I remem­ber catch­ing (find­ing) a small snail once when I was young. I kept it in one of those clear film roll con­tain­ers, and gave it some water. I showed my grand­moth­er, and the next thing I knew the lid was up and it was gone. As a child, I thought it escaped and lost it in the house some­where, but think­ing about it now, I sus­pect my grand­moth­er threw it out because it grossed her out.

    I hope it did escape though. I had no idea that wild snails could be domes­ti­cat­ed like that and live for that long.

  11. aww poor snail i have two giant affi­can land snails but they are only babys and one has a bad shell but is now recov­er­ing :)
    i hope that you will save more and more snails aww

    abbey x

  12. Re: Maeko’s Comment-What kind of sicko would tor­ture a snail? There are some scary peo­ple out there…

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