Hitch a ride! Q A
KARIEN LE ROUX from Struisbaai writes: The blue shell of this snail drew my attention. And then I noticed the crab. What’s going on?
Marine expert GEORGINA JONES says: This is a bubble snail, which hangs upside down on the sea surface using mucouscovered bubbles as a raft to stay afloat. It feeds on bluebottles, among other things, and is usually only seen when it has washed ashore. The crab is a Columbus crab, which is often found in association with these snails. I gather that the crab is not a great swimmer so it might be hanging onto the bubble snail’s raft to stay afloat. I don’t think it eats the snail, although it might eat the snail’s waste or have a go at the eggs. At first I thought they were fighting, but later someone told me that some snakes do a mating dance…
AReptile expert JOHAN MARAIS says: Your first instinct was right, Karien – these two males are fighting. During battle, the stronger male tries to force the other to the ground and the winner gets the girl.
ABird expert LUKAS NIEMAND says: It’s hard to make a diagnosis without examining the bird, but one of the most common tumours found in birds is lipoma. A lipoma is a benign tumour made up of excess fat cells under the skin. It’s usually found on the breast or abdominal area. It’s relatively harmless, but if the lipoma becomes too big it can hinder the bird’s movement. Lipomas are usually caused by an abnormal diet or genetic defects. A growth can also occur when an infection causes an abscess, but then the feathers on the growth will have looked wet.