The tale of Miss Peri Winkle
Miss Peri Winkle (Littorina littorea) is one of the slowest moving snails in the world. ‘Why hurry? Don’t worry, is her motto. So she travels at about 1 -2 metres per hour. But if she is pushed for time, as young lady’s often are, then she can up her speed to about 5 metres an hour.
When she gets too hot, Miss Peri Winkle will roll down the slope and plop into the water! But if she accidentally lands upside-down on the rocks or the sand, she could be in BIG trouble! So big, that Miss Peri Winkle won’t be able to eat and could possibly die. Unless of course, the sea comes in and turns her up the right way!
And if she did die (God forbid!) then poor Miss Peri Winkle’s leftover shell will soon be on the market as a home for a Hermit Crab. Shameful!
Her daily diet consists of seaweed and algae, which she finds disgusting but was taught by her mother to eat what’s put in front of her or go without.
'You will live for ten years if you look after yourself!' Her mother often reminds her.
So with starvation as her only option, Miss Peri Winkle reluctantly eats her food. Although at times, she has threatened to go and live at the home for waifs and strays.
These so called pebbles of the sea cope with dehydration quite well! In fact, they can survive for many weeks without being in the water. They withdraw into their shells and close the operculum (hornlike lid) that’s just above their foot. A mucus is then secreted that hardens in the air and the shell sticks to the rocks.
So if you see Miss Peri Winkle down on the beach, lying on her back, please turn her over or put her in a pool....she isn’t sunbathing, she’s dying!