The Mating Habits of Snails

[ 3 Feb 03] This reader suggestion may seem a tad obvious, given the ol' domain name, but hold on to your shells—the mating habits of snails are far more disturbing than you think.

Since I can't claim to be any sort of expert on our molluscous friends, I had to turn to the secret weapon of the highly trained yet inherently lazy researcher to find out more about this lurid subject. Sure enough, it turns out that 1,840 people find snail sex so fascinating that they've mentioned it on one of their web pages. Measured against the global population, this translates into a rate of 1 in 2000,* making it highly likely that your town or suburb harbours one or more perverted gastropoidophiles. You can help stamp out this twisted practice by watching for silver trails around the lips and chins of neighbours, and reporting keen 'gardeners' to your nearest screaming mob.

So what of the slithering capsules of lust themselves? The first page on Google's list plays down their kinkiness, making them sound almost modest:

Snails court for hours before mating, often twisting themselves around each other, and covering each other with a slimy material. Once the mating process has finished, each individual snail goes in search of a place to lay its eggs. Snails lay an average of 75 eggs, a few inches into top soil. Within 2-4 weeks, the eggs hatch. Snails are rapid reproducers, breeding as often as once a month.

Twisting around... slimy material... breeding once a month... so far, so middle-class suburban. But the next link reveals their sordid secrets for all the world to see and, in 0.05% of cases, be unhealthily aroused by:

Hermaphrodites can take male or female roles in mating and reproduction, as circumstances dictate. The garden snail fulfills both sexual roles simultaneously.

Cross-dressing intergender sexual-role-playing gastropods! Quick, fetch a garden hose and douse these brazen hussies before they harm the children.

These snails punctuate their mating ritual by puncturing their partners with a calcified "love dart." ... Garden snails court from 15 minutes to six hours by circling each other, touching with tentacles, and biting on the lip and genitals. Just before mating, hydraulic pressure builds up in the blood sinus surrounding the organ housing the dart, and when the second animal touches the darter's genitals, it fires that dart. After snail number two responds by firing its own dart, the snails simultaneously mate.

Ohmygodthatsthefunkyshit. Genital piercing snails! S&M snails! Hard-core biting and stabbing snails! All under our very noses and/or lettuces!

I'll never be able to look at Speedy the same way again.

Still, it gives me some great ideas for my forthcoming line of site merchandise. As well as a Hotwheels Speedy with friction-propelled action and shell that ejects on impact, we can do a self-sliming Inflatable Speedy with pop-up dart. 1,840 of those at fifty bucks a pop should do nicely.

*Or, if you are more skilled with a calculator, 1 in 3,260,000. See comments.


To Sirloin With Love

[14 Jan 03] The first reader suggestion for the year inspired this bit of doggerel. For a change, the suggestion itself forms the last line of the poem, rather than the title.

O noble slice of sirloin steak
I do not know quite what to make
Of you; should I heat up a pan
And bash you flat, like steak diane?
Or does my dining future lie
In using you in a stir fry?
Beef Wellington? Or stroganoff?
Would jerky be a little off?
Medium, or just well done?
Served up with onions in a bun?
That's it—I know just what to do
I'll make mincemeat out of you.


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