Slow and steady! Maybe snails are on the right track considering they’ve been around for 500 million years. Aquatic or terrestrial, snails have adapted to live on land, in the sea, or bodies of fresh water. Land snails enjoy humid areas. They’re members of the Gastropod class, which includes all snails and slugs. Even though they lack an internal skeleton and bones, that doesn’t mean they’re unprotected.
We’re all aware of one of their distinguished features, the snail’s shell- their shelter from danger. Being able to continually evolve and survive we can say without hesitation, snails are truly fascinating! Let’s keep it slow and steady and discover 48 interesting facts about snails!
Gastropods are part of the phylum Mollusca known for their soft body, sometimes protected with an exoskeleton or shell.
Squid, clam, octopus, and cuttlefish among others belong to the phylum Mollusca.
Although slugs lack a protective shell, snails and slugs are closely related since they are both Gastropods.
The spiral shell loaded on their backs is the most recognisable snail feature.
The shell protects their soft body and internal organs with its calcium carbonate structure.
Land snails have lungs because they breathe air from the atmosphere.
Snails can be found everywhere around the world.
When it comes to the number of named species Gastropods range second, only behind insects.
Snails are found in many locations, living in lots of different types of habitats and even having specific feeding habits.
The Earth offers a great variety of snail habitats. You can find tiny snails under a stone, but also on a leaf of a plant.
Snails can even survive in places frequented by humans, such as public parks and gardens.
There are between 85,000 and 150,000 molluscs of which 80-85% are gastropods.
The world is home to more than 60,000 species of snail.
Some of the land snails are only a few inches long and often weigh only a few ounces.
The Giant African land snail, a species endemic to Africa reaches almost 12 inches!
Snails move thanks to a “muscular foot” that, based on wave movements, allows the snail to go from one place to another.
Snails move safely and smoothly with the help of the “mucus” that the snail secretes to slide on all types of surfaces reducing friction and avoiding harm to their body.
Land snails are known to be incredibly slow. It’s usually, between 0.5 and 0.7 inches per second.
Snail’s slowness is another feature that has made them famous.
In many places in the UK, snail racing is organized. Don’t worry the race doesn’t last as long as you may think.
Land snails have eyes and olfactory organs but are not able to hear.
Their most important sensory organ is their sense of smell which helps them find food.
Snails are most energetic at night, but they sometimes come out during the early morning hours as well.
Most snails are hermaphrodites which means that a single snail has male and female reproductive organs at the same time.
Nonetheless, snails usually mate in an old-fashioned way, with a partner.
Snail’s courtship process lasts between 2 and 12 hours.
A few weeks after mating and laying eggs, the hatchlings emerge from their egg.
The hatchlings are small and defenseless against predators.
A snail’s life span is about 3 to 7 years in the wild, but in captivity, they can live up to 10-15 years.
As long as the snail grows the shell made of calcium carbonate keeps growing too.
For centuries people have eaten land snails in many parts of the world.
Snails are considered a delicacy in some parts of Europe like France and Spain.
Some snails harbour parasites that, once in the human body or that of other animals, can cause severe diseases, so you should be careful with their consumption.
To avoid dangerous diseases like meningitis among others, when handling land snails, especially those found in the wild, you should observe the proper hygiene precautions.
Snails are considered pests when they damage crops or in some way affect the species of a region or the human being.
Snails can also damage leaves and fruit.
Certain snails grow up to the size of an adult hand.
Snails are vigorous during the wet season or after hefty irrigation of the citrus groves.
In winter snails are inactive and hide in the soil.
To decrease their negative impact on fruit and harvest quality, good observation of snail’s presence and activity is of great importance.
Snail’s enemies include rats, snakes, lizards, and birds. When snails feel endangered, they usually withdraw into their shell to protect themselves.
About 500 native species of land snails live in North America.
Edible snails are called “escargot,” a word that also applies to an appetizer dish made out of snails.
Snails can sleep for up to 3 years!
A garden snail can pass over an edge of a razor blade without harm.
The snail’s mouth is small but it contains over 25,000 teeth.
“White caviar” is a term for snail eggs that people eat.
Want to smooth the skin wrinkles or treat the spots and scars on your skin? Then look in the garden for some snail mucus which can be used as a treatment.
Do you have any interesting, strange or fun facts about snails that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!