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Things that are weird in Israel # 14: Worms (vs Snails, and which you’d rather step on after rain).


Further to my coverage of the brink-of-disaster weather reports last week… this being winter, we did indeed have some weather.  Blue skies now, and the sun’s shining, but I admit, it’s been a rainy few days.

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago what’s missing here in this rainy season.  I took a whole bunch of pictures before I came to my senses and realized that you were never in a million years going to guess based on a random picture of a puddle.

Still.  Try to forget you saw the headline up above and tell me what’s missing from this random little Kiryat Shmuel puddle:


Now I’ll tell you, because it’s boring waiting for you to guess and I know you already peeked at the headline:  worms.

There are no worms here.  It’s like they’ve all been Raptured or something (if you’re not Evangelical Christian – like I’m not – then here’s what that means).

I asked Google if there are worms in Israel at all, but all it wanted to tell me about was worm composting.  Been there, done that.

I even tried asking in Hebrew (תולעות בגינה?), and discovered that the plural of worm, תולעת, is actually תולעים, because hey, why make a rule (that words ending in “ת” are pluralized in the feminine) if you’re not going to allow exceptions all over the place??

Which I promptly forgot ALL since it turned up this vastly entertaining article in which Google artfully translates the word “earthworms,” every single time, as “diarrhea.”

This makes the article even MORE entertaining, even if you couldn’t care less about gardening.  (“Diarrhea: the gardener's little helpers”!  “Unfortunately in many gardens there is a shortage diarrhea”!)

Okay, maybe you’re not as immature as me and don’t find this utterly hilarious.  (Come on, though:  “Diarrhea has five hearts”???)

Sadly, it seems that our area, at least – with its close-to-the-sea sandy soil – indeed has a shortage of… um, earthworms.

And to make things worse, here’s what Hashem, in His great wisdom, offers us instead:


In case you’re not Israeli, the squashy thing on the sidewalk slab here is… a snail.

A dead snail.  Smooshed underfoot.

Want a close-up?


(I guess you didn’t say “no” loudly enough.)

When it comes down to it, I’ll be honest:  I’d rather have worms. 

Why?  Because snails crunch.

With a worm, you might not even know you’ve stepped on it.  But when you’ve stepped on a snail, you know ALL about it from the moment your foot senses the slight resistance of the shell (too late!) to the inevitable crack and crunch of the “Mazel tov!” moment, like breaking the glass under the chuppah, that it turns into a crispy-edged wad of snot on the sidewalk.

Want to know something cool about snails?

(Of course you do.  Anything to get that snot image out of your mind.)

I was amazed when I first saw the snails last winter, because I know snails and slugs need damp conditions.  And this place definitely is not damp in the summertime.  But I recently learned that snails can actually plug up their shell with mucus so they can survive through dry times.

Isn’t that astonishing?

Survive, that is, only to get crunched underfoot after the first rainfall of the season.  Mazel tov!

(gummy worms on sidewalk image ©  Quinn Dombrowski via flickr)


Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. Funny...I never "missed" worms. What I do find strange is that we usually get slugs by our house - and not snails. The snails always seem to stay south of Rechov Yam Hatichon. (But apparently you get them on your side of town, too.) And when you step on a slug...ugh. I'd rather not talk about it.

    1. I miss worms because I gardened in Canada. And in addition to the standard (if not native) brown earthworms. we also had two very active composters full of red wigglers, which did a great and efficient job of eating most of our garbage. Here... it just goes in the garbage, which is a pity, because a good worm composter can cut out most of the heavy, wet, smelly stuff.
      As for slugs, I have never seen one here, b"h. Strange how they're regional even in such a small neighbourhood.

  2. Earthworms are called שלשולים!

    1. Right... I'm a little confused. Isn't that what I said?


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