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What is the difference between slugs and snails?

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 1 June 2014

Not a reference to CEOs and FDs on the AIM Cesspit but to the killing field that my back garden has become. It is all the fault of the mother-in-law, a good Christian woman who visited last weekend but left me strict instructions as to my husbandly duties.

I shall not be offering up a full list but the mother-in-law was, rightly concerned that the back garden was somewhat blighted by an invasion of slugs and snails. They are, I am ordered, to be sent off to meet their maker without delay.

And so once a day I now go out on patrol. Early evening is best I find. But something is wrong. I have no problem in hitting a slug across its back with my trowel. It is an instantaneous death and I have no sympathy for an unattractive creature that wishes to feat on my herbs, flowers and the grape laden vine that dominates the garden. But snails?

For some reason I regard them differently. I know that they eat the same things as slugs and are generally bad news for the garden but while slugs look loathsome, snails are one of God’s more attractive creations. Moreover I feel differently about something I know I can eat. I have tried to persuade the Mrs that we should nurture some larger snails and that she should let me prepare them as l’escargots but she seems a tad unconvinced.

The bottom line is that I cannot kill the snails. But equally I cannot disobey the mother-in-law either. And so on each patrol I simply pop the snails into a box and then take them to the grassy lane behind the garage (aka my place of exile) and leave them there. It could be that a Song Thrush comes upon them and gets an early Christmas present of a mega feast. It could be that they slide off into someone else’s garden. Who know they might even make the long trek back to mine. But I simply cannot bring myself to kill them myself.

Why is it that I view them differently to slugs? I cannot figure it out.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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