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No. 17 Set up a snail race

Children having a snail race on the pavement at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Children having a snail race at Mottisfont | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Snails move super slowly so it's best not to give them too far to race, but that's not all you need to think about. Read these ideas for the best snail race for you (and the snails!) - it's no. 17 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.

Find your snails

You can find snails in most gardens, parks or green spaces, hiding under leafy green plants or in trees. Snails like the cool and wet, so you won't often find them in the sunshine, so if you can remember that when you race them then they'll be happier.

Mark out the track

Snails move super slowly, so don't make your track too long or you'll have to watch for hours while they race.

You can either mark a circular track out in chalk, or you could use sticks in a circle. One about 60cm in diameter is probably about right. The easiest way to start your race is to draw a circle and put all your snails in the middle of the circle, then as they glide away the first one to reach the edge of the circle is the winner, but you could also set up a track like a race track with lanes - though the snails won't know that they're supposed to stay in their lanes, so it might end up less like a race and more like a mess!

If you're having trouble telling your racing snails apart then you could stick small stickers on their shells, but remember to take the stickers off after the race. A snail's shell is its home and helps protect it from harm.

Cepea banded snail on a log
Cepea banded snail on a log | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

Look after your snails

Just like top athletes have their favourite conditions for a race, snails do too! So, keep the track wet, and don't leave the snails racing in full sunlight. In fact, a snail race is best done in wet weather, but you might not enjoy that as much. Once the race has been run/crawled then please pop your snail racers back where you found them so they can go home and tell their family how they've done.

Wash your hands

This is just common sense once you've handled anything that lives outdoors, but you might especially want to do it after seeing snail trails everywhere!

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