Aliens abound in this corner of the universe

Perhaps not so much aliens as alien, as in alien things.

We the occupants of North Texas were blessed recently with a bit of dry air that helped reduce the overnight temperatures dramatically, so mornings around these parts have been cool and comfortable.  It is in stark contrast to the hot and humid mornings we just left behind and will again meet in just a few days.  That means we enjoy it while we can.

Knowing it was more than pleasant outside, I stepped out to the patio early in the morning for a bit of fresh air.  I already fed the various outside cats and visited with those who graced me with their presence.  That meant I was on my own to enjoy the unseasonably cozy weather sans interruption or obligation.

With a cup of coffee in tow, I stood quietly and listened to nature as it likewise started its morning.  This is one of the great pleasures of living right here on the lake: I need only step through the door to be surrounded by wildlife and natural beauty (or, at the cost of only a minute or two, I can walk down to the lake to be completely separated from the urban landscape).

Birds were singing their good mornings and beginning to fill the sky with activity.  Aside from that, very little was happening, and that didn’t bother me a bit.

As I stood absorbing my surroundings, my eye chanced upon a very large shell of some kind resting on the bottom of the fence.  It was approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) long and 1.25 inches (3 centimeters) wide.  (Note that width in this case refers to the diameter of the shell, so it also indicates its height.)  The color was a dead-leaf brown in the shadows of morning.

I approached the shell to investigate as it was rather large, and it was then I noticed a large snail pulling it along as he made his way toward the patio floor.  It amazed me to see such a large snail—he was at least 5 inches (12.5 centimeters) long and half an inch (just over a centimeter) wide.  His movement was unhurried to say the least, at least in that way for which snails are known.

Insomuch as just the day before I spread Sevin dust around the inside perimeter of the patio fence to halt the ant onslaught, watching this enormous creature work his way slowly toward that thin line of death caused me to pick him up and move him so that he would not come into contact with the barrier.  While I was at it I decided I might as well get some pictures, so I set him upon the fence and snapped a few, followed by capturing some video of the beast.

During this brief session, I noticed another one of the same species, albeit about half the size of the first one.  The second snail was making its way up the fence in the corner.  Deciding both were in danger on the patio due to the insect toxin, I fetched the newcomer and set them both down by the tree outside of the fence.

Only later did I identify the slimy visitors as rosy wolfsnails (Euglandina rosea).  They are nicknamed cannibal snails because they are carnivorous; they eat other snails.  They are also the largest native species of land snail in North America and the second largest in the world.  They rank in the top 100 list of invasive species and are responsible for the extinction of innumerable snail species around the globe.

Had I known all of that before letting them go, instead I would have preferred to put them together and let them duke it out (wouldn’t that have made for some interesting photos and videos…).  Sadly, I didn’t know any of this until it was too late.  You see, one of my nightly visitors (most likely a raccoon or opossum) ate both snails overnight and left their damaged shells right there for me to see.  Oh well.

In any case, here’s one of the photos I took.  There are more below the fold.  I will also post one or two videos of this behemoth as soon as I get them edited and ready for consumption.

What you’ll notice is the six tentacle-like protrusions on its head.  Two of those are actually its mouth (the two at the bottom).  You’ll better appreciate those once I get the videos posted as they’re fascinating to watch.

Close-up of a rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) (148_4895)
Rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) (149_4914)
Rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) (149_4909)
Rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) (148_4899)

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