Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator
Title: Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator
Author: Sarah C. Campbell
ANIMALS JNF CAM
A photo essay on a day in the life of a wolfsnail.
This true tale of horror begins in the leaf litter beside a quaint, tidy porch in Jackson, Mississippi. Rain trickles off the edge of a quaint, tidy porch and onto the shell of a sleeping creature. The water awakens the beast. Slowly, a slimy foot emerges from the shell, then a hideous head. The wolfsnail is on the prowl.
Big, strong, and fast (for a snail), the wolfsnail has a taste for meat. In some areas, it is called the cannibal snail. It has earned the name.
Above the wolfsnail, a smaller snail calmly eats the leaf of a garden plant. Surely, it is safe here, in the shade of the leaves, hidden from the view of snail-eating birds.
Maybe not. Below, the wolfsnail begins to climb. It knows this plant. It has fed here before. Soon, the predator finds the slime trail of the smaller snail. It turns and follows the gooey path toward its prey. When the chase ends and the dramatic feast is done, nothing remains of the smaller snail but an empty shell.
This photographic story of a day in the life of a wolfsnail offers kids a unique and dramatic introduction to the food chain. The wolfsnail s story also has important lessons for everyone. In the southern United States, the wolfsnail is a rightful member of the native wildlife. But it has been taken to other regions, where it has devastated the populations of unique species of snails.
For example, the wolfsnail was transplanted to Hawaii in the hope of controlling the giant African snail, a serious farm pest. The wolfsnail does indeed eat giant African snails, but it prefers the unique species that live only on the islands. It has wiped out many of Hawaii s native snails, which for thousands of years had composted leaf litter, kept some plants from overtaking the ground, and provided food for birds and other predators. The long-term effects of their disappearance on Hawaii s ecosystem are not yet known.
Sarah Campbell uses stunning photographs taken collaboratively by herself and her husband, Richard, to tell this engaging story. Young readers will be fascinated by this little-known predator and informed by seeing the impact it has had on habitats where it does not belong.