July 5, 2017, by Emma Thorne

The Tragical Ballad of Jeremy the Left Twisting Snail

It’s a sad tale of loneliness, unrequited love and genetic rarity – and now the bitter sweet story of Jeremy the lefty snail has inspired one talented YouTuber to write a ballad dedicated to the sinistral gastropod who looks destined to always be unlucky in love.

Lydia Hillier said she was moved to pen The Tragical Ballad of Jeremy the Left Twisting Snail after spotting an NPR story about the little guy’s plight.

For those unfamiliar with his story, Jeremy’s international notoriety can be traced back to October last year when his scientist Dr Angus Davison got in touch with the Press Office asking for our help.

He told us that Jeremy was a ‘one in a million’ left-handed, anti-clockwise spiralling snail who is a mirror image of other ‘normal’ brown garden snails.

Dr Davison needed offspring from Jeremy to be able to study the genetics of this rare condition, which may offer valuable insights into a common understanding of body asymmetry in other animals, including humans.

The trouble is, his rare genetic deformity makes it impossible for him to mate with other normal garden snails and another of these extremely rare creatures was needed to make a perfect match.

We decided the only way to put an end to his loneliness was to harness people power to help find him a similarly coiling mate. And following an appeal via the national media and a #snaillove hashtag on Twitter, Jeremy became an overnight international media sensation, with his story featuring on primetime BBC current affairs and comedy programmes including Have I Got News For You and No Such Thing as the News.

Jeremy now has a burgeoning following on his Twitter account (@leftysnail) and his story has even inspired one fan to have a tattoo of the ‘shellebrity’ snail.

More importantly though, it has inspired many people from around the globe to engage with the science behind the sinistral snail and the hunt was on to find another of these elusive lefty snails.


In the end, two potential beaus were uncovered for Jeremy – Lefty from Ipswich in the UK and fierce Spaniard Tomeu rescued from the pot at a snail farm in Majorca (and still the only snail to have bitten Dr Davison during the course of his 20-year career).

They were brought to Nottingham but in a tragic twist, Jeremy was left shell-shocked after being given the cold shoulder by both of his suitors who seemed to prefer each other, and have produced more than 300 tiny snail babies between them.

And it was this news that prompted Lydia to pick up her guitar.

She said: “A couple of weeks ago I was reading this article on NPR about a snail named Jeremy who lives at a research university in the UK and Jeremy twists to the left instead of the right, which is apparently this very rare birth defect among snails. What it means is that Jeremy can’t mate with other snails and so I was inspired by this tragic tale of an outsider incapable of finding love, and so I did what any reasonable person would do and I wrote a tragic love ballad for Jeremy the left twisting snail.”

Thanks Lydia, this is our favourite interpretation of Jeremy’s story so far!


Posted in Health & medicineResearch news