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In the middle of winter snails and slugs are everywhere. Gardeners hate them and many people think that they are slimy and disgusting creatures, but they do serve a useful function in our ecosystem. Snails are quick to clean up decaying animal and plant matter, and presumably what comes out is more useful than when it was eaten.
Gardeners in Adelaide hate the little critters with a passion. Snails can make short work of leaf vegetables like lettuce, kale and silverbeet, decimating a crop in days. That's why we encourage blue tongue and sleepy lizards to make a home in the garden, as they love to feast on snails.
The Holden Street Theatres have found a great way to put snails to work during the Adelaide Fringe Festival. They are holding The Great Australian Snail Race, a competition to find the fastest snail in South Australia. Despite being deaf and blind these scary beasts have over 14,000 teeth and can move at a lightening pace - their top speed is around 0.048km per hour.
Aussies are always up for a bit of fun and a challenge, and Holden Street Theatres have just the event for you. Wander your garden and find your biggest and best beast, then bring it along to challenge a range of local and imported shelled gastropods to see which is the fastest in Adelaide. Unfortunately being the height of summer, even locating snails at this time of year can be a challenge.
If you have hunted under your meter box cover and in the damp spots of your garden without finding snails, you may need to buy or hire your champion for the day. Fortunately Bugs n Slugs have come to the rescue with a carefully curated range of gastropods on offer before each race. Pick one of their snails and you will do a community service, as Bugs n Slugs source their snails from Careship in Coonalpyn - a care farm for people with dementia.
Bringing your own snail from the garden will cost you the princely sum of $2 to register it for the race. I wish I had brought back some of the colourful critters from my amazing trip to Cuba. If you can't find one, then the registration fee includes the hire cost of your snail for the race from Bugs n Slugs. But if you would like to keep one of their artfully decorated snails and take it home, $10 will give you a lifetime of joy with the little critter. Just make sure there are no lizards nearby.
Beautifully Decorated Snails From Bugs n Slugs (Image Supplied)
Spectators at the The Great Australian Snail Race can watch the thrilling spectacle for free. If you have a penchant for cuisine nouvelle, you may even be able to pick up a few fresh ones after the race to enjoy in the privacy of your own home. I would suggest removing any paint before popping them in the pot though.
For all you need to know about this fast-paced race, head over to the Facebook event page or the Holden Street Theatres web page.
The Bugs n Slugs Facebook page is worth a browse if you're into creepy crawlies, and their people will provide you with a snail care sheet if you take home one of these bundles of joy. Good luck, and may the best-decorated snail win.
Will Your Snail Be First to the Finish Line (Image Supplied)