Elliot being super sweet after dinner.
Kotoko being super sweet… I love her so much.
As I mentioned in a previous post, given that my number of snails has diminished, all of the adults and older juveniles of a decent size are now together in the giant tank. Several new Helix Pomatia have been born, though still a tiny amount of the clutch. I’m caring for those in a separate container for now.
Here are a few photos of Pom babies with Pom adults (maybe parents? who knows):
And just some more random cute photos:
My smaller snails are still being tested with the new soil. Other than that I have no more updates to share at this time!
Starting from about three days after she arrived into our lives, Tomoyo has had health problems.
The first week, she almost died of suspected feline panleukopenia and had a very high fever for too long. After getting better, she developed some behavioral issues, mainly being incredibly destructive in spite of lots of attention, toys, access to a huge porch, and three other cats to play with. She’s a happy cat, and is always playing, but she’s incredibly neurotic. Sometimes she attacks her food dish, or other random things, as though she is really scared of them. And she never seems to relax the way normal cats do.
To add to this, she is always hungry in a way I’ve never seen another cat be. All tests done to her come normal, though.
About a year ago, Tomoyo developed another issue: an occasional cough. It wouldn’t go away, and worried our vet, who’d give Tomoyo some injectable steroids to ease the problem. Then she wouldn’t cough for a while.
One time in particular, Tomoyo was given steroids in pill-form. Within 48 hours of taking these, she developed a possible UTI that may or may not have been related… it was either that, or crystals in her urine (we treated for both) but it was a very bad time for her, and consequently for me, since I had to see her suffer. It was also all-around a very bad time for our wallet, in the hundreds of dollars, but eventually, she got better.
That brings us to last weekend. Her cough had made a comeback over the holidays, and over two weeks, it went from “mild concern” to “this is bad”. Tomoyo’s fur would stand on end, she would panic, and her head, neck stretched, would point in a different direction with each cough –very different than a cat trying to get out a hairball. She’d never vomit anything, but her breathing, normally noiseless and clear, immediately would become wet and crackly sounding, only to go back to normal until the next episode.
These episodes would generally be triggered by any sort of playing, jumping or running around, but sometimes would wake her up of a dead sleep.
So yesterday we went to the vet, again:
Dr. Pisano determined that it is extremely likely that Tomoyo has asthma. She was given a long-acting steroids shot, which immediately stopped the coughing, while the VERY EXPENSIVE asthma medication we ordered arrives. We also had to buy a device to administer these meds, which are literally the same inhalers people with asthma use… for the same cost.
With some luck, I was about to get an eight month supply for $110, and the device was $60. This doesn’t count the vet visit, shot, and a rabies vaccine she was due for… almost $300. Or the previous shots or visits this year… or her special food when she had the infection ($100 for like, 25 days worth) or the two rounds of antibiotics (about a hundred again).
I must point out I got very lucky with her asthma medicine, which I will have to find a way to administer every day. Normally, a 120 day supply would cost anywhere between $150 to $400 (with the higher price being the average.) This is forever.
Tomoyo is an expensive cat, and it would be so much easier to bear if she was cuddly, or if she didn’t destroy our possessions, or drive the other cats nuts. But with all that said, I do love her dearly. She isn’t a very cuddly cat because she’s constantly on the alert. She suffers from literal anxiety, and cannot relax. We tried multiple sedatives, which had the opposite effect. Her anxiety increased.
We’ve often mentioned to each other that our lives would really be easier and more relaxed without her, and this is true. But Tomoyo really enjoys being alive. I see this every day. She may not be what a human would prefer in a cat, but she’s a very happy animal, loving and clingy in spite of not being able to cuddle, and what to others is obnoxious and destructive behavior, to her is playful and curious.
Sometimes I think, Tomoyo ended up with us, because many other people may have given her up or have her put down because of all of her issues, health and behavioral. Maybe with age she will mellow out. We keep hoping for that.
Even if she doesn’t, I do love her very much, and she can be cute, sometimes…
Anyway that is the situation with her right now. Cost of medicine aside (and it’s definitely a serious concern) I really don’t know how I’m going to administer this medicine to such a violently skittish cat (emphasis on the violent part.) Forever. For her entire life (she’s young) EVERY DAY.
Well…I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
Today I found that another of my big snails (the Helix Pomatia) had passed away. The new soil also finally came in, so I put a small sample of Otala Lactea with the new soil. I also reached out to a horticulturist for soil advice, but for now, I needed to at least test a change.
Meanwhile, all my other snails have been put in a single giant tank. Which is kinda cool to see, but also sad, since it goes to show how much my number of snails has diminished. I’ll update in a week with developments regarding the test of new soil.
Meanwhile, here are some cute snail photos and nonsense.
I heard a loud rasping noise from my desk, and it took me a while to find its source. Was he trying to make a break for it??
More slimy cuteness:
In spite of the sad times, I really love snails. But for this reason, I won’t ever seek to have Helix Pomatia again. I cannot provide the proper care for this species, I think, and it breaks my heart. They are the best snails ever. But any snails make me happy, so going forward I’ll concentrate on the snails I can best keep.
After some serious thought, I’m going to make a drastic change regarding my snails. It all boils down to this: the recommendations for proper snail care from pet snail owners and from heliculturists contradicts itself in serious ways.
Normally, this would make sense: if you’re raising cows, for example, what you do will be very different if they are pets versus cattle for meat. However, when it comes to snails, their needs are (mostly) the same. You want them to thrive, be healthy, parasite free, and fat (since stuff like laying eggs makes them lose lots of weight, and healthy, happy snails will lay eggs.)
But some of the contradictions have serious implications. Take, for example, everyone in pet snail forums suggesting coconut coir as bedding, a piece of advice I’ve followed religiously. This makes no sense if you look at the soil needs of snails according to the vast majority of heliculturists.
Coconut coir is inert, it has no nutrients, it’s not real soil. Real soil is made up of mineral particles, organic materials, air, water and and yes, living organisms, all things snails need (and this varies depending on where a snail is from, and what species it is.) Of course, the living organisms part is also the risk, but without real soil, snails die.
Moreover, snails need to eat soil, this is a hugely important part of their life. Both scientists who study snails and people who make a living out of heliculture place great importance on cleanliness. The soil must be clean. You cannot have poopy soil, the snails eat this, and at the end of the day while they may seek to do this naturally at times, soil high in feces is scientifically confirmed to contribute to higher snail mortality! Why no one points this out, I cannot understand.
So clearly coconut coir, while unlikely to have pests, is not a good snail substrate. But a soil that is just right for them is not easy to find. You can look for organic potting soil but still you must look carefully at the ingredients and composition, you may need to amend it with something else, and pests are a likely problem.
My snails are dying. Slowly, but they all are, it’s that simple, and they shouldn’t be. I feed all the right things. I use the so-called “proper” substrate and try to only replace part of the soil when I clean to avoid making it “too sterile”. I watch humidity levels like a hawk. It’s not working. And if I can’t figure out a way for my snails to thrive I will not get more snails after they die. It’s terribly unfair to them.
After a ton of soil research I decided on a particular organic potting soil that is very rich in natural nutrients. To this I plan to add some amount of lab-grade natural chalk. Perhaps, I’ll mix it with a bit of coconut coir too. I’m terrified about bringing in mites again, but I’m not sure I have an alternative when my snails are so obviously unhappy. If they still die, at least I need to feel like I tried.
Worst case, if I get mites now I know that the solution is to absolutely inundate the tanks with hypoaspis, and it’ll be fine… hopefully… anyway, they’re dying, so I have to try a drastic change. I’ll do it with just one of my tanks and see what happens.
Kotoko was looking out the window from the cat tree yesterday afternoon. It’s rare for her, given her arthritis, so I took a photo.
Here’s a cool little video of one of my young milk snails (otala lactea) eating some lettuce. You can see the food as it’s going through him!
Looks pretty freaky, kinda like he has a worm inside. ^_^;
My milk snail clutch has been pretty runty. Some of the medium-sized babies are enjoying some sweet potato in this photo I forgot to share.
Last night I cleaned up the tanks a little bit and added fresh food. My roman snails are enjoying their huge water soak dish so much. Sometimes two of them will sit there for hours. There’s one there right now even though it’s cold.
I hesitated to add this dish to the tank. It’s a calculated risk. A fall on top of it would surely cause shell injury. However, it is in the center of the large tank and nowhere near the edges. The mesh lid of my tank is covered in vines, and the snails don’t favor sleeping there, much preferring the glass walls or just burying themselves. Falls do happen, but they are always more like… slides, down the walls of the tank. So I think they are safe. And they enjoy this so, so very much.
But nonetheless I think I will try to find a plastic one that is similar. Or rather, softer plastic. This one is plastic but it’s too hard.
I really need to get to sharing photos of my little guys more often. I just love them so dearly.
Can’t wait for Christmas so I can nerd out with my new snail and slug book that everyone pitched in to get me. 🐌📚 I hope it helps me take better care of my snailios!
What do you want for Christmas most of all? Do you think you are going to get it?
I’m starting to regret my good intentions of not sharing my wishlist anywhere. ^_^; But, I would be a hypocrite if I shared it now, so I won’t.