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Flirting the Roman way

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Aongside the serious business of farming, I'm keeping a small pen of Roman snails. These six beauties spent the winter in my fridge and now the mating and laying season for Roman snails has started, things are seriously hotting up. You may not share my fascination with snails but you have to admit this is some interesting behaviour I've captured in this shot. I'm pretty sure there's some serious flirting going on here, not a boxing match. All I need now is some eggs please.

I will just reiterate for the benefit of those who don't know, that Roman snails: Helix pomatia, are protected in Britain under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and must not be disturbed. My lovely specimens were imported from a reputable source in Italy and not collected from the wild. If you see Helix pomatia offered for sale you need to satisfy yourself that they are from a reputable source. In many other European countries where they occur they are semi-protected so that, for example, you can't collect during the laying season and mustn't take snails of a certain size so that the population is sustained.

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Roman snails: escargots de Bourgogne

In my fridge I have some beautiful Roman snails, brought here all the way from Italy for me to sell Image

The Romans brought two kinds of edible snails here 2,000 years ago along with most of the vegetables and fruits that we eat today. So they had a profound effect on our diet. They brought the common garden snail Helix aspersa which is a relative of the kind of snails I farm today. They also brought the one we call the Roman snail: Helix pomatia. It is found in the wild in chalky locations like the Kent Downs, Chilterns and Cotswolds and is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It’s also often associated with sites of Roman occupation like the towns and villages along Watling Street here in Kent. Whenever local people tell me they’ve got Roman snails in their garden I feel very jealous. I think I’m going to find it difficult to sell them because I just want to keep them.

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