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To the fellow scientists (and wannabes) out there...


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TimRuns
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PostPosted: 08/16/03 - 22:32    Post subject: To the fellow scientists (and wannabes) out there...
I have a question that's been bugging me for a long time although it looks simple but I can't really seem to get a clear answer even though I'm a science guy myself.
OK, here goes... Why do slugs and snails die when you sprinkle salt on them?
My theory is that salt dehydrates them by drawing water out of the cells (osmosis) and since they rely heavily on their mucus secretions for survival (to keep them moist and protect them from predators), they die. I'm not satisfied with this explanation though b/c I think there may be some other mechanism as to how salt kills them. Any ideas??
robp
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PostPosted: 08/16/03 - 23:26    Post subject: Re: To the fellow scientists (and wannabes) out there...
TimRuns wrote:
I have a question that's been bugging me for a long time although it looks simple but I can't really seem to get a clear answer even though I'm a science guy myself.
OK, here goes... Why do slugs and snails die when you sprinkle salt on them?
My theory is that salt dehydrates them by drawing water out of the cells (osmosis) and since they rely heavily on their mucus secretions for survival (to keep them moist and protect them from predators), they die. I'm not satisfied with this explanation though b/c I think there may be some other mechanism as to how salt kills them. Any ideas??


I don't have any theories on this myself but why would the salt dehydrate a slug or a snail but doesn't dehydrate a human or other mammals or reptiles? I realize slugs/snails aren't mammals but is their cell structure different from other critters such that the dehydration would occur? Your theory makes sense if the composition of their cells is conducive to the osmosis idea.
genie
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PostPosted: 08/17/03 - 09:38    Post subject:
Nope, you're right.....the osmotic theory is correct. Because there is water on the snail's skin, the salt you sprinkle on it dissolves and that causes a reaction due to the concentration gradient--the water inside the snail has a lesser salt concentration, so as you said, water flows out of the cells by osmosis in an attempt to maintian osmotic balance. Since the water is flowing out, it ends up dissolving more salt, which sorta creates a vicious circle and eventually the snail dehydrates. Think of the last time you did a really long run and ended up with that white crusty salt dried on your body from sweating. The salt flows out onto your skin via the sweat, and then continues to pull more water out of your system as you sweat more.

As best I can tell, the answer to rob's question is, it's a matter of degrees. The snail's body surface is obviously way smaller than man or larger animals, so the amount of salt sprinkled on it is of a far greater concentration that it would be on other animals. And excessively salty foods do make us thirstier in an attempt to restore the water balance in our systems.

Also, if you think about it, the last thing you want to do when you're shipwrecked or involved in a plane crash over the ocean is drink the sea water, for exactly that same reason. You'd think because it's water that it would hydrate you but the high concentration of salt will have the same effect.

I love physiology, it is undoubtedly the most interesting of all the sciences, no? Smile
kattzoo
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PostPosted: 08/17/03 - 10:36    Post subject:
Gee, you guys beat me to my brilliant, well thought out answer. (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it)

My question though is....who the heck goes around sprinkling salt on snails and slugs????
TimRuns
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PostPosted: 08/17/03 - 17:25    Post subject:
kattzoo wrote:
Gee, you guys beat me to my brilliant, well thought out answer. (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it)

My question though is....who the heck goes around sprinkling salt on snails and slugs????

My mom does that to slugs unlucky enough to venture into her flower beds. She really hates them.
cherylpf
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PostPosted: 08/17/03 - 17:49    Post subject:
TimRuns wrote:
kattzoo wrote:
Gee, you guys beat me to my brilliant, well thought out answer. (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it)

My question though is....who the heck goes around sprinkling salt on snails and slugs????

My mom does that to slugs unlucky enough to venture into her flower beds. She really hates them.


My mom too.
genie
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PostPosted: 08/18/03 - 10:10    Post subject:
cherylpf wrote:
TimRuns wrote:
kattzoo wrote:
Gee, you guys beat me to my brilliant, well thought out answer. (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it)

My question though is....who the heck goes around sprinkling salt on snails and slugs????

My mom does that to slugs unlucky enough to venture into her flower beds. She really hates them.


My mom too.


ME TOO! burning mad Little b*stards are having a field day with my zinnias! Problem is, you gotta be out after dark when they come out. I did find some stuff at the garden center called Bug Geta that's supposed to kill them, we shall see.

Otherwise, I'm pitchin' me a tent in the front yard and goin' on a slug safari! Twisted Evil
TimRuns
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PostPosted: 08/18/03 - 14:44    Post subject:
genie wrote:
cherylpf wrote:
TimRuns wrote:
kattzoo wrote:
Gee, you guys beat me to my brilliant, well thought out answer. (that's my story, and I'm sticking with it)

My question though is....who the heck goes around sprinkling salt on snails and slugs????

My mom does that to slugs unlucky enough to venture into her flower beds. She really hates them.


My mom too.


ME TOO! burning mad Little b*stards are having a field day with my zinnias! Problem is, you gotta be out after dark when they come out. I did find some stuff at the garden center called Bug Geta that's supposed to kill them, we shall see.

Otherwise, I'm pitchin' me a tent in the front yard and goin' on a slug safari! Twisted Evil

It's funny b/c that sortof the way my mom does it: she asks my 2 youngest siblings (ages 7 and 10), each equipped with a small bag of salt to go out into the backyard for some "slug-hunting". They often come back with trophy-sized specimens.
Sahara
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PostPosted: 08/18/03 - 14:50    Post subject:
I told my kids that it's cruel to kill slugs with salt when a neighborhood boy came to our yard armed with a salt shaker. Same thing as pulling the legs off a spider as far as I'm concerned. They're not bothering me, so we leave them alone.
Sandy Cheeks
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PostPosted: 08/18/03 - 15:35    Post subject:
Sahara wrote:
I told my kids that it's cruel to kill slugs with salt when a neighborhood boy came to our yard armed with a salt shaker. Same thing as pulling the legs off a spider as far as I'm concerned. They're not bothering me, so we leave them alone.


My dad taught us to take them and put them on leaves and then put the slug-boats in the gutter. We watched them float away to the beach.
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