Monday, December 27, 2010

Hunting in the dark

Warning - this blog may gross out squeamish readers...

As part of establishing a sustainable garden we are trying to avoid chemicals, poisons and pollutants.  There are various natural methods for controlling snails and slugs, but I prefer to go outside on rainy nights to hunt for them. 

I don't mind hunting for snails, they have a nice hard, dry shell that is perfect for human hands to pick up.  But slugs really gross me out.  I've tried several methods of picking them up without having to touch them, but nothing really seems to work - they curl up and fall off sticks and other implements.  I'm wondering if maybe a small pair of tongs would work, so I will look for some next time I am in a kitchenware shop.  If anyone out there has any good ideas or any tried and tested methods, please let me know because I hate picking slugs up and then having to spend ages washing my hands to get the slime off!

We used to kill the snails and slugs, which made me feel terrible because there were often so many, but since we bought the chooks they take care of that job for us.  We keep the slugs and snails in a little bucket until morning and then give them to Butter and Phili who peck them up and eventually turn them into eggs. 

When Tansy came to live with us, she would follow me into the rain on my snail hunting expeditions and once she understood what I was looking for, she started to help.  We nurtured her willingness to please, and her enjoyment of snuffling for snails and crunching them in her mouth (then spitting them out!), by encouraging her to hunt for snails.  She will often hunt for them even when we aren't, and some wet evenings we will find several large snails and slugs deposited on the mat by the backdoor!  She has proven to be an excellent snail hunter, and sees it as wonderful family bonding time when we are all there.  So last night when a light shower of rain passed overhead we went outside with her to see what we could find. 

It turned out to be an excellent night and we reaped a bumper harvest - our little slug bucket was full in hardly any time at all. 

Last night's haul.

I did say this wasn't for the squeamish!


  1. oh you're good, hunting them. I've done a little bit - just a handful at a time. A good friend of mine who is my chicken expert to go to said that the only thing to be concerned about with feeding the girls so many snails is that the need to worm the girls is even more important. I haven't done it yet but I plan to soon - the thought of worms causing havoc with my hens is a pretty off putting thought!

  2. We usually only feed Butter and Phili a few at a time (which I think is OK), and a nights hunting will last a few days. Sadly there were so many this time and now the weather is so warm, the remaining slugs and snails may end up in the bin. I'm trying not to think too much about how awful it must be in the little slug bucket even in the shade. Instead I'm trying to focus on the seeds I just planted and how maybe they will have a better chance of survival with less slimey critters around wanting to eat them...