Snails: Faster & Deadlier Than Once Thought

On August 27, 2013 by Tim Newman


LED Snail Experiment

Snails. Not the most fascinating topic on the menu you might think. Well, think again. These virtually blind and deaf hermaphrodites have been on the planet for a million years and are set to be around longer than us. They’ve also recently been the subject of a science experiment on the deadly dog parasite – Angiostrongylus Vasorum – a type of lung worm.

Dogs, being as daft as they are, occasionaly eat snails by mistake and catch this nasty parasite that lives within them. The experiment in the video below set out to see how far snails traveled to spread this baddy each night. The experimenters attached LED lights to 450 snail shells and watched them go. It turns out that snails actually have quite a turn of speed and are capable of going up to 1 metre an hour which is faster than previously thought.

Angiostrongylus Vasorum is a metastrongyloid nematode and primarily effects the heart and pulmonary circulation of it’s host. The disease has been spreading from the south coast of the UK ever further northward at a disturbing rate. The recent dirge of wet summers has been posited as a partial reason, with the Royal Horticultural Society reporting a 50% boost in snail numbers. This worm effects dogs and foxes and other creatures e.g red pandas (just FYI red panda’s are neither red, nor a panda, just so you know.)

LED Snail Experiment lung worm GIF

This parasitic worm mates in the lung’s arteries and the larvae are transported to the pulmonary capillary bed. From there they get inside the alveoli (air sacks in the lungs), travel up to the throat where they are swallowed by the dog. The dog then poops them out, the snails lick the turd and BANG the cycle begins again.

Not very pleasant but the LED light experiment looks cool:


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