Joop has been different since the weekend. There was a point during the BBQ when I passed his tank, spotted that he was on his food, and talked to him through the glass. I must have been too loud in my drunkenness, because he zipped right back into his shell! Snails are deaf by virtue of not having any ears, but they feel vibrations which is why I talk to him.
I’m not sure why he flinched so much, but he probably had a lot of vibrations coming his way that night. As far as I know, this individual incident of flinching is not connected to anything else.
When I was handling him on Monday night, I noticed he had a tear in his mantle. The mantle is sort of a spongy rim on the underside of the shell that connects to the snail’s body. Sometimes the mantle collapses from inside the shell entirely, which is usually fatal. Having a mantle tear can also be fatal, but it’s less likely than with an outright collapse.
I haven’t managed to get a picture of the injury itself yet because of the angle I have to be holding him at in order to expose it from under the hood of his shell. It’s basically a slit in the spongy area that exposes a white layer underneath. I should not be able to see that white layer.
Here is a picture of a snail with a similar wound in a different place:
The most likely reason he would have a sudden mantle tear is if somebody wrenched him off the glass or something else he was suckered onto.
Of course you might be thinking, that’s impossible, he lives in a locked tank. Well, drunk Letti apparently at some point thought it was a good idea to leave the keys next to the tank for the rest of the night. So, it’s possible that somebody could have opened it and bothered him.
Aside from having a wound, he’s just been really flinchy and weird since the weekend. He used to love being hand-fed fish flakes and pond sticks, but now doesn’t seem to want anybody near him.
Tonight, for the first time in almost 1 year of having him, he bubbled at me.
Bubbling is something you’ve probably seen wild snails do, when they’re frightened. Pet snails can do it when they aren’t used to people, but he’s never done it to me. Until tonight, when I was giving him some fish flakes and pond sticks and, suddenly, he freaked out.
He still crawled about on me even though he was bubbling, and I honestly didn’t know what to do. I gave him a rinse in the sink and then put him back in the tank. And since then I’ve just been sat here, too nervous to sleep.
I also slept a lot in the day anyway, it’s hot and I’m recovering from my latest injections.
I’m really worried about him. I want to believe that nobody would have done anything to him, and hopefully it’s all just a weird coincidence that he’s being like this and it will pass. I might feel better if I hide a door sensor in his tank and put it on the alarm setting. Although that just might vibrate the absolute shit out of Joop.
I suppose he might be behaving strangely because of pain. Mantle tears have been described as agony for snails. Apparently snails are at least as intelligent as mice, so he is probably having a fairly rough time right now. I’m just so worried and it’s not an overstatement to say I’ve cried.
Giant Land Snails can live 10 years, and honestly when I’m 38 I want to be telling you he’s still here. I love him so much.