Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?

31 Mar

by Roger White


So I’m sitting on my front porch on a gorgeously sunlit Sunday morning, while Ralph the dog slinks ever so farther into the fringes of the yard and out of my line of vision. He does this so he can stealthily nose through, roll around in, and snack on various dead bugs, worms, and other dogs’ indiscretions in our yard. And to think we let him sleep in our bed with us. Max the fat cat reasonable maxsimilelazes next to me, casually observing a snail making glacial progress across the sidewalk. I begin watching the snail, as well. The little guy is near the edge of the walk, mere inches from the luscious black earth of our garden. It must have taken this tiny gallant gastropod all of this morning and most of last night to ooze his way this far from the driveway, judging from his slimy trajectory, and I marvel at his determination. I figure there’s some greater life lesson here, presumably about fortitude and believing in oneself and putting your best foot forward and all that. Although technically, snails don’t have feet.

Well, to be scientifically correct, the word “gastropod” is derived from the ancient Greek term that literally means “stomach foot,” which would indicate that a snail does indeed have a foot formed from its stomach. However, this is an anthropomorphic misnomer, based on the fact that to humans it appears as if snails and slugs crawl on their bellies. In reality, as we all know, snails and slugs have their stomachs, the rest of their digestive systems, and all the rest of their molluscal viscera in a hump on the el gastropodoopposite, or dorsal, side of their bodies. In most gastropods, this visceral hump is covered by, and contained within, the shell. This will be on the test, and, no, Leonard, you can’t be excused, just hold it in.

So, technically, I’m still not sure if snails have feet.

Anyway, um. Oh, yes, well, just as Eddie Escargot is about to reach the promised land, Max the cat jumps up and bats the unfortunate mollusk back across the sidewalk. The little guy sits there, stunned, back at square one. I swear I hear a tiny, little expletive. Another life lesson, I’m thinking. You know, if at first you don’t succeed, Rome wasn’t built in a day, cats are evil bastards. Stuff like that.

I shake my head at Max’s playful cruelty, wondering if he realizes what he’s done. “Was that necessary?” I lecture. “That is one pissed-off snail.”

Then it hits me. Is it? Is that snail mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? See, these are the things that I ponder. This, among many other reasons we won’t go into in this forum, is why I don’t own or manage a productive business, am not a best-selling author, and never made it to the professional tennis circuit. I am engrossed, wifey would say distracted, by matters such as this: Do snails get angry?

one pissed snailMy curiosity piqued, I dash to the computer and google the question, “Do snails get angry?” I’m not really expecting an answer, but you never know.

Sure enough, the query comes up word for word on the WikiAnswers site. Some bozo replied, “No, slugs and snails can’t get angry because they don’t have faces and therefore can’t frown, smile, or laugh.”

Wait a minute. Snails have faces. Don’t they? So I google “snail face,” only to find a host of sites about snail facials, a Japanese spa treatment in which they smother your head in live snails, which is apparently supposed to retard the aging process because of the incredible properties found in mollusk mucus. Tokyo spas are charging $250 to slather your mug in slugs–$300 if you want to eat them later.

But again, I digress. So I dash back outside to see for myself if our torpid little traveler has a face, only to find Ralph the dog rolling all over the poor thing in the driveway. Yes, Eddie Escargot is escargone. I pick the little guy up and place him gently in the garden, his final resting place. I swear I see a hint of a grin. Snail heaven. Gastropod Valhalla. Hey, there’s a name for our garage band.


Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit


14 Responses to “Question for the Ages: Do Snails Get Mad?”

  1. apoliticalinquiry March 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Reblogged this on apolitical.

  2. talker blogger March 31, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Ha ha .. And I thought I was the only one wondering about crazy stuff :))

    Good one 🙂

  3. MissFit March 31, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    always, always good for a laugh. keep it up. you are a writer. and that is why you ponder snail dispositions. or is it vice-versa… it doesnt much matter. carry on

    • oldspouse April 1, 2014 at 6:39 am #

      Thank you, MissFit, for the kind words.

      • MissFit April 4, 2014 at 8:33 am #

        Keep the laughs coming you have a unique vantage ; I am enjoying your blog immensely

  4. Wordsgood April 1, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Hehe. That’s just funny! Don’t believe I have ever even heard of someone wanting to know about snail personalities before… I guess there really is a first for everything. 🙂

    In my head, the whole story was playing a perfect little movie. Except it was my lab, who does do that and one of my cats. He (the cat) would do that all day just to piss the slug off.

    Anyway, thanks for the laughs, and have a good day! 🙂

    • oldspouse April 1, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      This is precisely why I’ll never get anywhere in life. These things occupy me. Ah, well. : )

  5. Wordsgood April 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Ah, but you’ll have such fun. And fat cat likes it, so you can bond. Lol. 🙂

  6. Desire April 3, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    What a fantastic read! You are a master wordsmith and make up for my questionably trashy blog’s existence.

    • oldspouse April 3, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks, Desire. Keep writing. It’s better than watching TV.

  7. Dave Gettier April 5, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    It reminds me of a joke my father tells (my father is a Philosopher emeritus at Umass). So this young guy sees a snail, picks it up, and tosses it into the woods. Years go by. The guy is now married with 2 kids. He see’s a snail again, picks up when the snail says “What the fuck was THAT all about?!?”.

    (Pardon the expletive… only works with it IMHO 8^).

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