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Singapore, Singapore

Singapore's Blinking Snails

You may not be able to chew gum in Singapore, but you can sit on your veranda and watch the snails blink. 

Singapore! Land where chewing gum is illegal and the only landfill is a tourist attraction.

If you thought they’d have an unusual animal or two, you’d be correct. But rather than tuck them away in some difficult to reach forest or underwater cavern, Singapore displays its fantastic fauna right out in the open. One of the most intriguing?

Quantula striata, the blinking snail.

While Singapore isn’t the only place this terrestrial mollusc struts its stuff, it’s the perfect place to find one. This unassuming snail has a bland spiral shell, which in the daytime might not even catch your eye. But at night the snails blink, and the faster they move the faster they flicker on and off. They slow the blink a bit while eating, and when they’re asleep, it’s lights out.

The flashes, which aren’t quite as bright as those of a firefly, are produced by the exotic-sounding “organ of Haneda” which is found in the “head” of the critter. Even its eggs glow.

The snails are common after it rains, and prefer to hang out near human activity, especially lawns, fresh excavations, and garbage dumps. They’ll enjoy your garden if you give them the chance to dine on your lettuce and carrots. They also have a taste for rat food, should you wish to keep one as a pet.

Know Before You Go

The snails prefer disturbed areas and lawns.