Have you ever heard of the phrase “moving at a snail’s pace?” Well, it certainly doesn’t describe something that’s going fast. Most of us know that snails are slow-moving creatures; they’re among the slowest-moving animals on land!
Although we often see snails as slow, there’s more than meets the eye with these animals. They’re not just passive slowpokes with homes on their backs. There are so many cool things about these creatures. For instance, did you know that there are lots of snails that live in the sea?
In this article, let’s look into the fantastic world of snails and what makes them noteworthy animals. Read on to learn more about them!
Interesting Facts to Know about Snails
The typical garden snail (Cornu aspersum) moves at a pace of around 0.03 miles per hour (0.048 km/h). That’s really slow!
These slimy creatures don’t get around that quickly, but one can find them in many places worldwide. Different types of snails can live in a wide range of habitats, from gardens to forests to the deep oceans. Now, let’s explore other fascinating facts about snails that you can share with your friends and family!
- Snails Have Shells from the Moment They Hatch
Some animals, like the hermit crab, live in empty shells they find throughout their lives. However, this isn’t the case with snails. Snail shells are attached to their bodies; they get these mobile homes when they hatch from their eggs!
When they hatch, baby snails have a protoconch, which translates to “original shell.” These early shells are often soft and see-through, but they toughen up as the snails grow and get calcium from their food.
Courtesy of invisiblepower
- Snail Shells Get More Rings as They Grow
Every time a snail grows, its shell gets “growth rings” as the number of spirals increase. Because of this, the more rings a snail has on its shell, the older it is—this is a lot like how we can tell the age of a tree by the number of rings!
- Some Snails Live in the Seas and Oceans
Have you ever wondered why SpongeBob Squarepants has a pet snail named Gary? Well, that’s because snails don’t only live on land! Snails also live in lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans.
Sea snails come in many forms. Most have spiral shells, although some species have cone-like or bivalve-like shells.
Most sea snails breathe through gills, but some still have lungs like land snails. Those in the latter category are only active during the low tide when they can come up for air. Now, that’s an interesting fact about snails!
- Giant Snails Exist
Snails come in many different shapes and sizes; some are bigger than an average adult human’s head!
According to the Guinness World Records, the biggest land snail ever recorded was a giant African snail (Achatina achatina). From snout to tail, its body was 15.5 inches (39.3 cm) long. That’s longer than a bowling pin! Its shell was 10.75 inches (27.3 cm) long and weighed 2 lbs (900 g).
In the sea, things can get even more enormous. The largest sea snail is called the Australian trumpet (Syrinx aruanus), and even the biggest land snail pales in comparison. Its shell can grow up to 35.8 inches (91 cm) long and weigh up to 39.7 lbs (18 kg)!
Courtesy of Valeriia Miller
- The Smallest Snail Is Smaller Than a Grain of Sand
Moving on from gigantic snails, let’s now go to the smallest ones! The smallest snail we’ve ever found on land is the Angustopila psammion snail, whose shell measures just 0.02 inches (0.6 mm) in diameter. You can fit around five of them in a single grain of sand! How cute is that?
- Vision Isn’t Their Strongest Suit
Most snails have four tentacles on their faces. They use these tentacles to learn about their surroundings—they can smell, taste, track the wind, and orient themselves using these sensory organs.
In most land snails, the tips of the top pair contain simple eye spots that can see the light and dark. They can’t see images as we do, but they don’t need to, as most species are only active at night. In fact, some snail species living underground don’t even have eyes. They just use their other senses to get around.
Although most snails only have simple eye spots, carnivorous snails have more complex eyes that give them a better sense of vision.
- Snails Can Sleep for Years at a Time
Snails need constant moisture to live. However, sometimes, the weather gets too hot or too cold for them to get moisture from the environment properly. When this happens, they either go into hibernation or estivation, which are long periods of sleep in cold or hot climates.
Before long periods of slumber, snails cover themselves in sticky mucus to protect their squishy bodies from the harsh heat or cold. Then, they sleep for up to three years and wake up when they can survive the weather!
Courtesy of Egor Kamelev
- Most Land Snails Are Nocturnal
Many species of land snails are active at night. This is because they need to avoid being dried up by the sun. They prefer the cooler and more humid evenings to go around and search for food. However, they may also come out of their shells during the day when it’s rainy.
- Some Snails Can Live a Relatively Long Time
Many land snails only live for a year, but some live for two to three years. However, the larger species often live longer—up to ten years in the wild. More impressively, though, is that some captive snails live up to 25 years old. That’s older than most cats and dogs!
- Snails Have a Lot of Teeth
Snails may have small mouths, but there are numerous rows of tiny teeth inside those mouths. So, how many teeth do they have? It depends on the species, but the numbers range from 1,000 to 20,000! Even weirder is that they sit on a tongue-like organ called a radula. Snails use these organs to scrape and cut their food before swallowing it.
- Snails Move Using One Foot
Snails are gastropods, which means “stomach foot.” They slither forward with one muscular “foot” on their bellies. As they move, they secrete a slimy mucus that protects their soft bodies from rough and sharp surfaces.
Courtesy of Pille Kirsi
For Your Kid’s Snail Fascination
Nothing’s ever odd for the curious child, so if you want to support their current snail obsession, we’ve got these suggestions for you. None of them involve a live snail, of course:
- The Jelly Surprise Shake Series by the Rainbcorn is the best for your precious baby girl! You’ll get a cute plush nail, plus little surprises that will keep her happy all day long.
- If you want something a little more practical, this Snail Night Light by MUID can keep the nightmares away.
- “Are You a Snail?” by Backyard Books is also the perfect addition to their snail collection!
Frequently Asked Questions on Snails
What is the difference between a snail and a slug?
Snails and slugs are both gastropods, but they’re different animals. Although they look and behave similarly, there’s one big difference between the two. Snails have shells, while slugs don’t!
Although slugs don’t carry the protective home that snails do, they move faster because they’re packing light.
Can you keep snails as pets?
Some people keep snails as pets! They’re relatively low-maintenance because of their slow metabolisms. It’s easy to keep them in terrariums or aquariums (depending on the species), as they don’t require much space. They’re also interesting to watch!
What do snails eat?
Most land snails eat plant matter, such as leaves, fruits, stems, and bark. Some may also eat mushrooms and other fungi. Others also feed on decaying plants.
Some snail species eat other animals, like slugs and worms, and some may eat both plants and animals.
Why is salt dangerous for land snails?
You may have noticed that salt is a land snail’s weakness. This is because the salt dehydrates their bodies; as you may know, they need moisture to survive. When salt draws water out of their skin, it may harm them.