Icon for Bite_em.exe Bite_em: a program to count bites made by freshwater snails

This can be downloaded (at your own risk) :

The output should be saved as a text file (*.txt) and then can be drag & dropped onto an open Excel window for analysis.

Program is copyright Chris Elliott 1997/2000/2002 -
The source use Borland C/C++ compiler version 4.52 and its OWL library and is on-line here

How to do the experimentPicture of experimental setup

Make up a litre of standard snail water.

Make up a sucrose solution to stimulate the snails to feed, dissolving the sucrose in standard snail water. For my experiments, I stimulate feeding with 1mM sucrose, so I make a 20mM sucrose (by dissolving 0.68g of sucrose in 100ml of standard snail water) which will be diluted twentyfold when it is added to the water around the snail.

Put a large petri dish upside down on a mirror and place a second one right way up on top. Arrange a light so the beam will bounce off the mirror and illuminate the snail's foot when it is in the petri dish. Check that it won't dazzle you!

Double click the downloaded bite_em program to start it going. Set the experiment duration to, for example, 2 minutes using the Set Duration menu item.

Put 20ml of standard snail water in the top petri dish and place the snail in this dish. When the snail emerges and you can see its tentacles, gently pipette 1ml of 20mM sucrose dissolved in the standard snail water  into the dish, round the edge. Click Go (or press Alt + G) on the program menu. Watch the head reflected in the mirror and press the spacebar each time the snail opens its mouth. [Watch the Video or run your mouse over the picture below to see how the opening looks.] When the chimes go off, or the comment box appears, the exprimental time is up.

This 2Mbyte video shows the first three bites made by a snail in response to sucrose

Feel free to save the data after each snail.

Wash the petri dish between snails!

This picture shows the mouth closed; run a mouse over it to see the mouth open