One of the crueler tortures to bestow on a snail is the salt shower, as the behaviorally challenged kid who grew up down the street from you could attest. Itís a horrible death: The salt draws water out of the creature until it perishes from dehydration. Even if you live in Florida, which is overrun with giant foot-long snails that are devouring houses, please do not dispatch them with salt. Snails have enough problems as it is.
Mother Nature, you see, has cooked up an even more sadistic punishment for the humble snail. Itís called Leucochloridium, and itís a parasitic worm that invades a snail's eyestalks, where it pulsates to imitate a caterpillar (in biology circles this is known as aggressive mimicryóan organism pretending to be another to lure prey or get itself eaten). The worm then mind-controls its host out into the open for hungry birds to pluck out its eyes. The worm breeds in the birdís guts, releasing its eggs in the birdís feces, which are happily eaten up by another snail to complete the whole bizarre life cycle.
Itís an existence thatís as brilliant as it is strange. But while science has known about Leucochloridium for more than a century, it was only in 2013 that biologist Tomasz Wesołowski of Polandís Wrocław University confirmed the worm is indeed capable of manipulating its snail.../