Sixth Form students have been carrying out delicate experiments on giant African land snails to study how they become familiar with external stimuli. The students carefully touched the snails between their eye stalks with a dampened cotton bud. The snails retracted their eye stalks and the students timed their reaction to see how long they would take to re-emerge.
The study showed that the more the snails were touched then the more used they got to it until eventually they became habituated, which means they showed no reaction at all. Students carried out the experiments on different snails and noted down the variations in individual reaction times and the number of times the stimulus got a response.
Teacher Mr Hawksley said: ‘We are looking at habituation which is the study of how they get used to a stimulus that is non-threatening. We need to use different snails with different classes as they remember the stimulus for a few days so won’t react for a second class. However it is not a learned, long term effect because, if we repeated the experiment with the same snails in a couple of weeks, they would respond the same way again.’