It’s been good mollusc weather recently, so here is a picture of a grazing snail looking up with mild curiosity at an approaching camera:
I always find animals which carry their house around with them rather endearing, although it can be awkward at times – like for this one trying to examine a crack in my wall:
They’re also moderately intelligent and capable of a reasonable amount of self-preservation (if their hideaways are found and they get ejected from the garden then once they have found their way back to the garden they will identify an alternative hideaway) although they show a tendency to wander around on garden paths late at night, and so get trodden on. They have a spirited curiosity with a liking for exploration, with the irritating consequence that halfway up a wall they will discover a hanging basket full of snail-friendly plants that were put up there out of harm’s way. They have a tendency towards a sort of social interaction – sharing hideaways and food, and leaving trails for other snails to follow if they find something worth eating after wandering off by themselves. And they seem to like climbing trees and wooded shrubs, where they presumably find something of interest to eat – as the shrubs tend not to show signs of having their leaves nibbled by molluscs, presumably they scoff slight coatings of mould off the bark. The one in the upper picture appeared to be tidying up some unwanted moss.
One very human tendency possessed by snails is that if you pick one up and carry it off then it will come out of its shell to see what is going on, and peer around with interest, and wave its eye stalks at you. Once put down, it will examine its new habitat for food and then begin the long walk home.
A scientific study was done a few years ago into how molluscs determine when to search for food, how to identify if they’ve found it and how much energy they want to use in the process (and whether if food is to hand they will just idly munch at it now to save time later, which if I read it correctly has the interesting revelation that if you put a snail in a lettuce patch it will just keep eating until it encounters the snail equivalent of boredom, whether or not it is actually hungry). It can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895806/
There is the interesting consideration that humans do not necessarily act wholly differently, but the invention of convenience stores – rather like the invention of domestic gardens for snails – has had an impact on the amount of exploratory behaviour required.
Snails are of course much noted in popular culture: