For years now, I have been baffled by the lack of snails in our garden. Back in 2002, I even wrote a short essay about it, for inclusion in an anthology about Darwin. We bought this place ten years ago this week. It wasn't until we had been living here for 5½ years that I finally found my first snail in the garden—and that was a very sorry affair. A year and a half later, I finally found a decent-sized snail in our driveway.
Then, today, as I was digging up the rockery and making friends with the local robin, I found my third ever snail in our garden, and the largest one so far:
In my 2002 essay, I noted:
for all the thousands of slugs I have found, I have never come across a single snail in my garden. Why is that? Is it too cold (I live in the Pennines)? Do the slugs eat them […], or out-compete them? Am I just not looking hard enough? Or is there simply not enough calcium in the area to allow snails to make shells (possibly because the soil is too acidic)?
Since we regained some element of control of our garden in recent years, we have been infested with noticeably fewer slugs—although there are still thousands of the blighters. So perhaps we might have opened up more opportunities for snails. One thing the albeit rare snail sightings have shown, however, is that some snails at least are capable of surviving in our acid soil.
Unless, perhaps, the soil in our rockery had lime added by th previous owners. I really must check it some time.