All Creatures Great and Small

Mostly small. And mostly slimy (cue Monty Python).

More tidying up in the Back 40 in preparation for winter. My backyard is a Brutalist expanse of poured concrete, so I use numerous pots for planters. All were salvaged from the street. There’s also a found-on-the-sidewalk wooden box, festively decorated with painted balloons. While moving this the other day, I found these creatures beneath it. Generally shunned by the dainty among us, these creatures of the shady damp — slug, snail, pillbug — are key to decomposition and recycling nutrients, and thus making the world go ’round and ’round. An earthworm, three more of the disk snails pictured in a previous post, a centipede, some smaller pillbugs, and several way-too-small-to-figure-out things were under there as well.
A closer look at the Common pillbug, Armadillidium vulgare, also known as common woodlouse or roly-poly. When disturbed or otherwise bummed out, these roll up into a tight armored ball. Love the overlapping plates here. These are not insects, btw; they’re crustaceans.
I find this land snail strangely beautiful: the contrast of amber shell and blue grey gastropod itself. The shell is about 1/4th-inch across, so bigger than the disks, and much smoother. The umbilicus, which is on the other side of the shell, is very deep (like Jimmy Joyce’s Omphalos). I think it’s a member of the family of glass snails, Oxychilidae. It looks like it might be Oxychilus draparnaldi, but they are supposed to be rather larger, so I’m not sure.

“We must not feel a childish disgust at the investigations of the meaner animals. For there is something marvelous in all natural things.” — Aristotle

5 Responses to “All Creatures Great and Small”

  1. 1 Esther Montgomery December 2, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    You might quite like the slug eggs I found under a pot in my garden.

    There’s a photo in this post

    (Greenfly and Garlic)


    • 2 mthew December 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

      Very cool!

      (Living as I do in one of the epicenters of neo-baroque foodie-ism, I wouldn’t be surprised to see slug eggs turning up on a menu, perhaps under the name of “gastropod caviar.”)

  2. 3 Rayme Larson March 25, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    These snails are also carnivorus. I used to keep them as pets.

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