Amateur scientist discovers snails ‘have a homing instinct’

August 4th, 2010 - 3:26 pm ICT by ANI  

London, August 4 (ANI): A 69-year-old amateur scientist has discovered that her garden snails can apparently find their way back home.

Dr Dave Hodgson from Exeter University conducted the experiment.

The idea formulated when Ruth Brooks, exasperated with snails that were wreaking havoc with her garden, took them away to a nearby piece of wasteland.

But she found that they kept coming back.

Brook and Hodgson’s experiments revealed that her snails were able to return to her garden unless they were placed more than 10 metres away.

“The conventional thinking is that snails are far too simple to be able to find their way home. So if Ruth’s findings are true we’ll have to rethink our theories,” the BBC quoted Hodgson as saying.

Now, Hodgson has invited members of the public to take part in a National “Snail Swap” Experiment.

He is asking people to collect their garden snails in a bucket and label them with coloured nail varnish - a process he says does not harm them.

The next step is to persuade a neighbour and nearby friend to do the same - but they have to label their snails a different colour.

The final step is to swap buckets and wait to see if any of your snails come back.

“Even if none of your swapped snails return we’d like you to enter your results online, as the data will help ecologists understand the behaviour of these ancient creatures,” said Michelle Martin, who is managing the project.

If the results back Ruth Brooks’ claims - gardeners will have to do more than just throw their snails over the garden fence to be rid of their pests. (ANI)

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