Snail Facts and Information
Snail Facts and Information. Habitat, Feeding, Anatomy, Reproduction, Lifecycle, Predators.
Facts about African Giant Snail, Garden Snail, Roman Snail or Escargot. Get Started ›
Introduction to Snails
Snails belong to the class Gastropoda, a classification that includes land, freshwater and sea snails and slugs. Snails’ ancestors are one of the earliest known types of animals in the world. There is fossil evidence of primitive gastropods dating back to the late Cambrian period; this means that they lived nearly 500 million years ago.
Gastropods are able to adapt to a variety of living conditions and they don’t require large amounts of food. They have been able to continually evolve to survive the conditions around them which many researchers find to be very fascinating.
Gastropods belong to the phylum Mollusca (or Mollusks) a classification of invertebrate animals with soft unsegmented body, sometimes covered with an exoskeleton or shell. This phylum, Mollusca, includes animals like squids, octopuses, clams and cuttlefishes among others.
Snails and slugs are both Gastropods, therefore they are closely related, regardless the fact that slugs lack a protective shell.
Being a Gastropod
You will find that there aren’t any shortages of snails around the world. In fact, Gastropods range second, only behind insects when it comes to the number of named species. As an obvious result of this, they are found in many locations, living in a very diverse type of habitats and even having distinctive feeding habits.
Snails, as gastropods are not the exception, there are land snails, freshwater and sea snails in an assortment of sizes, habitats and appearance. Initially, we will devote this site to land snails but we intend to include all kind of snails in the close future.
When we talk about land snails, we implicitly exclude freshwater and sea snails and refer only to the terrestrial gastropod mollusks that have shells.
Land snails range greatly in size. While some of them are only a few inches long and often weigh only a few ounces, there are land snails that reach almost 12 inches, like the Giant African Land Snail, a species endemic of Africa.
Snails move at an incredible slow speed. An average adult moves at a speed of 1 millimeter per second. While moving, snails leave behind a trail of slime, a lubricant they produce to allow them to easily move across any type of terrain without injuring its body. Land Snails aren’t able to hear at all but they have eyes and olfactory organs. They use their sense of smell to help them find food being their most important sensory organ.
Snail shell is made of calcium carbonate and keeps growing as long as the snail grows. They keep adding more calcium carbonate to the edge of the shell until the snail reaches adult size.
You will find that snails are the most active at night. They may come out during the early morning hours as well. Don’t waste your time trying to tell the males and females apart. This is because snails are hermaphrodites, meaning that they have the reproductive organs of both sexes on them, therefore they are able to produce both sperm and eggs. When they are mating they will both conceive and lay eggs.
The average life span of a snail is approximately 10 to 15 years in captivity. However, it is believed that some species can live up to 25 years this way. In the wild however, lifespan varies from species to species, but range from 2-3 in some cases to 5-7 for other kinds of land snails.
Humans have eaten snails for thousands of years and they are still part of the cuisine of several European countries. However, people can become ill if the snails they eat aren’t properly cooked as some of them can carry a parasite that can cause meningitis.
Handling land snails, especially those found in the wild, should observe the proper hygiene precautions to avoid any contagious disease.
Cambrian period A period of the Paleozoic era, from 540 to 585 million years ago.
Invertebrate. Animals that do not have a vertebral column.
Exoskeleton. External skeleton that protects the body of an animal.
Hermaphrodites A living organism that has reproductive organs of both sexes.
Top Facts about Snails
- The largest land snail recorded was 12 inches long and weighed near 2 pounds.
- Garden snails (helix apersa) a top speed of 50 yards per hour, this is about 1.3 cm.
- What do snails eat?
Snails tend to feed on a variety of items found in their natural habitat. What they will actually consume depends on where they live and the species of snail that they are.
Snails for Kids
- Snails are so diverse that there are land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails.
- There are thousands of species of snails.
Snail Facts Video
Snail Habitat, Feeding, Anatomy, Reproduction, lifecycle and Predators.
- African Giant Snail
- Garden Snail
- Roman Snail – Escargot
- Snails in Culture
- Snails in Cuisine
- Snail Pests