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Pahavit's Universe

Date: 9-8-2008 1:49 PM
Subject: Rest in peace, Hercules
Security: Public
Tags:hercules, milk snail, snail
Rest in peace, Hercules

I had to euthanize my pet snail Hercules on August 11th. He became sick with a swollen mouth, which protruded alarmingly from his head. He could not eat and would not be able to recover, so the humane thing to do was to euthanize.

It's a delicate question regarding snail euthanasia. There is one commonly accepted method for dispatching ill pet snails (as well as unwanted eggs) -- freezing. No one with pet snails really wants to do it, because no one is really sure how much the snail feels, and no one wants to cause unneeded or prolonged discomfort for their pet snail, especially during its final hours. But there is no other accepted method in the pet snail community, so like it or not, I knew what action to take.

When it became apparent that Hercules was so ill that I had no other recourse, I waffled a bit and put him in the refrigerator. He was retracted at the time, so I wrapped him in a big lettuce leaf for a shroud and tucked him into a little plastic tub. I hoped being chilled to 40º might make him go into hibernation, rendering him unaware when eventually placed into the freezer.

But when I checked him a couple of hours later, he was out of his shell and hanging upsidedown from the lid of the tub. So much for lulling him into unconsciousness -- chilling him in the fridge seemed to have rejuvenated him. It even looked like his mouth wasn't protruding, but I suspect that was only due to gravity pulling it back down inside his head.

Another check a couple of hours later, and he was still out of his shell and had moved a little. My plan for his gentle transition to senselessness was failing. He would not be able to recover from an extruded mouth; there was no point in prolonging his life. I had no further choice but to put him in the freezer immediately. I told him I was sorry for what happened; I told him he was a good little snail and thanked him for our time together; and I told him to go toward the light. And I placed him in the freezer and shut the door.

Rest in peace, Hercules.
You were a handsome and brave snail,
a gentle and affectionate creature,
a placid ambassador for your elegant species,
my generous teacher in all things invertebrate.
Rest in peace, Hercules.

His tub is still in the freezer. I've passed the point where it's strange to have him in there, and it's just easier to leave him be. I know he can't stay in there forever, but I don't want to take him out because I keep thinking that if he thaws out he'll come back to life, swollen mouth and all. It's not logical, but our bonds with other living things, as deep and fulfilling as they are, are rarely logical.

Rest in peace, Hercules.

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