Thursday, October 30, 2014

Killer Snails of Costa Rica "Babosas"

When we first moved to Costa Rica almost 2 years ago, we never imagined a fear of snails. Snakes, Spiders and Scorpions were much more scary to think about! Now that our Costa Rican born baby, Sofia just turned 9 months old, she has become quite mobile. When she is not walking from furniture to furniture, she crawls with quickness. When she sees an open door, she can be very fast, because, like most children, she loves to be outside. I have never been a "helicopter" mom, hovering over my children, just ask any of my friends from Texas who probably thought I was too lenient. I do; however, watch from afar and I have been known to be quick on my feet as well. Once when our son Max was nearly 2 years old, he chased a flock of ducks into Lake Conroe where we used to live in Texas. I jumped up so fast and was in the water rescuing him before my mother could readjust her eyeballs. When it comes to how fast a baby can put something in their mouths, I failed miserably. It is hard enough keeping her out of the dog bowls!

Yesterday, when we returned home from our morning walk, we took Sofia out of her stroller and put her on the ground to stretch. Within 60 seconds she crawled to the bench and picked up a large slug and stuck it into her mouth in front of me, my husband and our other daughter Sara. We all screamed and ran over to her, scaring her into tears. We did not overreact either. The slugs or snails are called "Babosas" and they slither around in the morning, just before the air gets warm from the sun. I am usually vigilant walking through the house every morning before my coffee doing a "slug check". Our friend, Marcella told us to beware of Babosas because they can do horrible damage to the stomach, and of course, babies put everything in their mouths, so children do die in Costa Rica from eating and/or touching these nuisances. We did some research and found out all we needed to know from The Real Costa Rica Blog. "Tico Grande" Tim wrote plenty of history and information about these killer slugs. Basically, they are covered in slime that can contain fecal spores from rats and mice which contain parasites. If a child even touches a slug, then rubs his eyes or sticks his finger in his mouth, he can ingest the parasites. Furthermore, they can be found on vegetables, so wash your fruits and veges well! I was mortified and anyone living in Costa Rica knows that nothing is open at 8:00 in the morning. Matt called our doctor for 2 hours. Finally, he reached Dr. Juan and got some good news. Sofia is not going to die. "No piense" he said, which means to not worry. We were lucky to see her ingest the snail because now we can give her an anti-parasitic med called Repinox and she should be fine before the parasites do any damage to her intestines. The kids who are not caught in the act are not so lucky. If gone untreated, the child can die. 

Sofia is on her medication and after the scare yesterday, the whole family helps out with the morning routine and "slug check". This morning, we found 5: 3 inside our home and 2 outside. They all go down the toilet, which, unfortunately, is a bad wrap. The snail is not the bad guy, he is just covered in killer slime. I asked many of the mothers in the neighborhood how I can at least combat them inside my house. They all told me to pour salt on the floor at the doors, windows and drains. As much as my kids love salt, they will be licking the floors, I thought, defeating the purpose. And all my salt is clumpy, not grainy, like it should be. What to do? Has anyone out there figured out a method of keeping these things outside? I do not want to hinder Sofia's progress and curiosity, but nothing is more important than her safety and well being, so now I am stumped. Pura Vida!


  1. How scary! I would be freaking out over those slugs too! Now I am off to read up about them. I wonder if they are all over Costa Rica or just your area? Have you been to Arenal? How about Rincon De La Vieja?

  2. Yes, they are gross and scary. The good news is that if your think your child might have touched, licked or eaten one, a quick trip to the lab is cheap and easy for a parasitic check. The bad news is that they blend in with the concrete:( so they are sometimes hard to see, and they leave slime trails on the windows.


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