|Common Nicknames||Escargot, Tiny Vagabonds, Sea-Bunnies, Crop-Ravagers|
|Habitat||Various, warmer climates and waters|
Snails have existed on Aloria since the dawn of recorded time and are speculated to be one of the oldest forms of life still in existence with a very wide range of habitats and different adaptations to suit various types of climate. Snails can be found all over the world, virtually anywhere except for the colder regions. One can find Snails in one’s backyard, in the tropical rainforests, lakes, rivers, bonds, and even in the ocean. Some cultures have even attempted to domesticate certain types of snails for food.
The first known records of Snails in history begin with their use in Ithanian cuisine, escargot. The practice of cooking Snails and making flavorful dishes out of them originally arrived with the Ailor slaves who later made up the Ithanian Culture. Foragers would often bring back handfuls of Snail, abalone, and other Mollusca and cook them. A common misconception is that Snails are cooked with their shells on which is false. To make escargot, one must first remove the Snails from their shells and place them in either a pot or a pan where they are cooked with garlic, butter, and chicken stock or wine, as well as any other desired herbs or seasoning - such as garlic, thyme, parsley,or pine nuts - for flavor.. When finished, the Snails are put back into their shells and are ready to be served. Other molluscs are prepared similarly, always cooked with butter as the primary ingredient as it brings out the most flavor.
While being arguably more integral to Ithanian culture and history, Snails have also been a feature in the history of many of the different races of Aloria, and many cultures have perceived them in various ways and found many different uses for them. To some, the Snail is a pest - an invasive species that destroys their crops, gardens, and livelihood - while others view some Snails as food and treat them like a delicacy. Some have even tried to domesticate Snails for food, or even for fashion. Some Cultures make use of Snail shells as jewelry or grind them up to use in traditional medicine, or in some cases as a component for dye. Meanwhile, some cultures, particularly some Asha, view Snails as a symbol of patience and endurance. Some regions of the world have put out a ban on the trade of live Snails or slugs due to their aforementioned destructive nature, which has sparked a business opportunity in the underworld for respective owners seeking exotic pets-- or meals. All it takes is for a few escaped Snails, even of the aquatic variety, to wreak havoc. Some regions of Corontium are plagued by invasive Snails brought over from the supercontinent of Daen, for example.
The best description of a Snail would be a shelled gastropod, a slug with a shell, and most if not all Snails are capable of retracting their entire goop-like bodies into these shells for protection, much like a turtle. The Snail has many key identifying features. One of them is its shell, which always takes on a coiled appearance, with a wide array of different patterns. Some species have very bland and mundane appearances while others have a bright array of colorful patterns-- indicating that some of them might even be poisonous to some degree. Another feature, and sometimes a misconception about Snails, is the long antennae-like structures that sprout from their odd heads. These are their eyestalks and their eyes are situated at the ends of them. Another curiosity is that all Snails are hermaphroditic; both male and female. But that’s where the common traits of Snails end, as they are one of Aloria’s most diverse species, matched only by creatures such as butterflies. New Snails, with new patterns, are a common discovery, with new species discovered almost every other year.
As mentioned above, Snails have immense variety and come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes depending on their habitat. Some land Snails are known to have gills, while some aquatic Snails have lungs, and there is so much mismatching and diversity that some scholars struggle to fully record it all, simply categorizing some species of Snail together as their differences weren’t significant enough to denote unique categorization. While there are some listed species, it’s speculated that many other species exist or have yet to be recorded.
- Daendroc Snails: Snails originating from the Daendroc region tend to have more marbled green shells with creamy colored skin. They are usually fairly small, but some larger specimens have been recorded among the older Snails of their type.
- Hyarroc Snails: Similar in almost every way to the Daendroc Snails, Hyarroc Snails are, however, significantly larger, a much deeper green, have black, tiger-like streaks on their shell. Most Hyarroc Snails are the size of one's palm. Hyarroc Snails are also commonly smuggled about on the black market as they’re one of the most destructive, and the most in-demand by exotic pet owners.
- Hadarian Snails: Also known as ‘sea bunnies’ are a unique variety of Snail that look almost like vibrant coral with jagged designs on their shells. They come in a variety of colors ranging from predominantly red, green, blue, and more rarely yellow. Their shells are patterned with their predominant color taking precedence with stripes of white and black intersecting in lines across the shell toward the center. Snails from Hadar are also one of the largest recorded species of Snail, the easiest size comparison being with rabbits, hence their nickname. Some Allar and even Altalar have been known to domesticate the Hadarian Snails as pets and, sometimes, food. They’re a favorite dish among the Cro-Allar and Mai-Allar populations.
- Ithanian Snails: Ithanian Snails are the most common variety of Snail found throughout the world. While they may originate in the region of Ithania, they can be found as far as Farah’deen and Corontium where they have overrun some native populations or simply became their own native species. Ithanian Snails are in fact so common that they’re often nicknamed “Garden Snail” because one is liable to find them in one’s garden no matter where one lives. Appearance-wise, they resemble your average Snail; brown, creamy, small, and not very remarkable. However, they are also the most widely domesticated. Some people keep them and grow their populations for food, while some children pluck them out of their gardens and keep them as pets in jars. More avid pet collectors build entire tanks to keep their Snails.
- Essalonian Snails: Aside from the Hadarian Snails, Essalonian Snails are arguably one of the more interesting and dangerous varieties of Snail. These Snails are completely pitch black in appearance with jagged, almost lightning-like streaks of yellow running along the grooves of their shells and in spots on their skin, and are known to be very toxic to predators or consumers. The secretions given off through pores of their ‘skin’ are an incredibly potent neurotoxin that can cause swift death to anyone attempting to ingest or cook the Snail. This neurotoxin however has an atrocious shelf life and cannot be successfully harvested. These Snails are best appreciated from afar in their natural habitat, though some collectors try to get their hands on them. They are the most illegal variety of Snail in regards to smuggling as they are also an incredibly dangerous invasive species. The dangers of the Essalonian Snail variety aside, they are also quite large and range up to the size of a person’s hand, and can be comfortably grasped. Not that it would be a good idea, though.
- Abyssal Snails: The most curious and rare variety of Snails lie in the deepest reaches of Alorian oceans and exist as bottom feeders, cleaning up the carcasses of behemoths and wrecked ships that fall to the darkness of the ocean. The Abyssal Snails are the most alien in appearance, their shells and skin almost solid black with bio-luminescent dots lining their shells that vary in color between different Snails, while the eyes at the end of their stalks have a dim-glowing, almost ghostly quality. They can grow up to the size of a small dog and, unlike their cousins, are mostly scavengers who prefer to consume the remains of other animals. Some scholars keep them in captivity, but they are impossible to domesticate as the conditions for keeping them in containment require very specific conditions and temperatures. They are far more specialized than other varieties of Snail.
- Drovvda SSnailen’a: Native solely to Drowda, the SSnailen’a is unlike other varieties of Snail. Scholars theorize that the Snails native to Drowda were once standard Ithanian Snails that were corrupted by magical essence and warped into what they are today. The SSnailen’a are also the most alien next to their abyssal cousins and boast dark purple shells with black as midnight ‘skin’. The most prominent feature is that their shells boast small jagged and erratic spikes. But aside from their alien appearance, they are the same size as Ithanian Snails with similar temperament except in the fact they’re omnivorous and will both scavenge and eat any available greenery. The Drovvda SSnailen’a are also used as food by the Sihndar and sometimes by other Snail connoisseurs, and boast a more vibrant flavor in comparison to the Ithanian Snail and some Sihndar are known to domesticate them as food for the holds.
Life Span and Development
Snails, unlike other species of animal, possess both genders, and any Snail can reproduce with one another. The life cycle of a Snail, regardless of subspecies, begins as an egg laid in proper conditions which are usually more hot or humid areas, or just generally warmer areas. After about two weeks the newborn Snails will emerge from their eggs with soft shells. Over a month these shells will harden. Some smaller Snails reach adulthood within three months, while other larger varieties can take up to five years to fully mature. Smaller varieties of Snail can live up to two to five years, while larger species can live between ten and fifteen years before expiring.
Most species of Snail have very very little in the way of mental capacity and are capable of feeling content with most environments barring colder conditions. Provided ample enough room and food, most Snails can thrive anywhere. Regardless of subspecies, no Snail is ever aggressive and all varieties tend to be incredibly passive and lax in demeanor which often attributes to their cultural symbols of patience and endurance. But the truth is that most Snails aren’t incredibly smart or developed enough to have very intricate patterns barring some aquatic varieties that are more specialized and face more threats to their continued existence.
Territory and Groupings
Most Snails don’t pay much attention or care in regards to their territory or grouping, and the majority of their subspecies are content to thrive in smaller groups, larger groups, or completely by themselves, though only the Essalonian Snail prefers to exist in a completely solitary lifestyle, only mating once a year. The majority of Snails are content with most conditions provided that they have food. Some Snails exist within specific climates but most can thrive anywhere and everywhere, which contributes to their aforementioned reputation as a devastating invasive species. Snails are not necessarily bound to their original regions, either: a Snail from Daendroc is capable of thriving in Hyarroc, anda Snail in Hyarroc is capable of thriving in places like Corontium or even Farah’deen and so forth. Rather, these regions exist to classify a subspecies of Snail rather than imply they are found solely there. Only certain Snails require specific conditions and are rare outside of their native habitats, such as the Abyssal Snail, Drovvda SSnailen’a, and occasionally the Essalonian Snail due to the danger it poses.
- There are rumors that some people native to Essalonia have developed immunities to their respective Essalonian Snails after years of consumption but this has never been quite proven by a scholarly authority, as no cases have ever been observed. Some say that the poisonous secretions of the Essalonian Snail have potential prolific alchemical applications.
- Search and rescue missions for ships lost at sea often never return with the bodies of crewmates as the Abyssal Snail is known to devour and consume all those who drowned. The only way that some rescue missions can determine who was aboard is through crew or shipping manifests, or through identifying articles of clothing. Some smugglers have also been known to use the Abyssal Snails as a means of getting rid of bodies, dumping them in specific spots tied to rocks so that they float to the bottom as a buffet to the slow-moving gastropods.
- Snails are actually quite delicious despite public perception. The aforementioned in history are some actual notes for escargot recipes when preparing them from home. There is a reason why the Ithanians have made them into a popular cuisine; it’s both odd and delicious.
- A common misconception is that Snails are cooked with their shells on which is false. To make escargot, one first has to remove the Snails from their shell.