Observe and Learn – from a song thrush

I observed a good reason for never using snail and slug pellets.

For those following the blog, you’ll be familiar with my winter observance of non-interference in the garden.  The patio outside the living room window is now an natural habitat for many visiting birds, a squirrel and a nosey fox which paid a brief visit a couple of early mornings ago.

Yesterday, I planted out the first of my heirloom seedlings within the midst of this increasingly biodiverse ecosystem.  I wondered if they’d survive the slugs and snails.  The mulch around them is quite rough and ready, so perhaps.

The snails seem to be moving in as expected, but so did a thrush.  She watched me as I watched her picking off the choicest specimens and undeterred by my presence, she proceeded to hammer their shells against stone flags.   Once freed, the meat inside was quickly gobbled and the thrush keenly looked around for more.


Now, perhaps you’re concerned about the trauma that the snail is going through, but compare it to how snails (and slugs) actually die if they ingest a pellet.

There are two active ingredients used in pellets, one makes the snail swell and the other induces the overproduction of mucous.    This means the pest will die of dehydration.  Additionally, these chemicals are also toxic to mammals, such as your pet (although most brands have a repellant to deter accidental pet death).  However, if not ingested, they will leach into the soil and into water run off.  Even for higher order animals like us humans, a range of problems from skin irritation to liver damage is a possibility.

But the more likely and probable scenario is that if the thrush that visited today, picking off this new diet of snails, had chosen a slug pellet ingesting individual, it might now be feeling very poorly.

I’m only a winter into exploring permaculture principles more actively and with so little effort, I’m completely sold on its value.  If I manage to get some food out of this year too, I’ll be more than convinced that mutual harmonious cohabitation is possible.


The day after writing this post, two thrushes are actively collecting nesting material and seem to be setting up base close enough to observe their comings and goings from our living room window.  Another lazy witch success!


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