The Interesting World of Snails: What Do Know About Them?

Snails, for some people, are cute little creatures that carry their homes in their backs (there is a large species among them, the land snail Achatina achatina, the giant African snail); for some other people, they are small creatures that leave sticky marks behind and damage the garden. Others decorate their dinner as escargot (Escargot means edible s nail in French).

Snails are crustacean land animals in the Orthogastropoda class of the Mollusca branch. There are approximately 43,000 species of snails in the world. Snails can be found anywhere in conditions where there is water and humidity and the temperature is suitable. They are classified in three different ways according to the regions they live: land, sea and freshwater snails. In this article, we will talk about the characteristics of land snails, which we have the opportunity to encounter more.

Cornu aspersum, a land snail commonly found in gardens. In English texts, it has been classified under the name Helix aspersa for over two centuries, but the classification of Cornu aspersum has prevailed.

Interesting Facts About Snails

Snails are Hermaphrodites!

Land snail species are mostly ‘hermaphrodite’, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. However, they usually do not breed on their own; they must mate with any other snail. As a result of mating, both snails can lay eggs and lay between 100 and 400 eggs. Since they can spawn once a month, they increase their chances of survival.

Snails Hibernate!

Some snail species hibernate during the coldest months of the year. They cover their bodies with a thin layer of mucus that prevents them from drying out. Some snails also estivate, which is similar to hibernation, to survive the summer months.

Snails Are Deaf!

Snails can see but they are deaf because they have no ears and no ear canals. Most land snails have two long antennae and eyes at the ends of the antennae, and they use the two short antennae at the bottom to smell and sense vibrations in the environment.

Cepaea nemoralis, another land snail species. Its size is smaller than the garden snail.

Take Good Care of Your Snails!

The life span of snails is between 3 and 7 years. In fact, when they are cared for and fed, their lifespan can be up to 10-15 years.

Shells with Calcium Carbonate!

The snail shell contains calcium carbonate in its structure. As the snail grows, its shell continues to grow. Snails should be fed with foods that contain significant amounts of calcium to keep their shells hard. Most land snails are herbivores, but there are carnivorous snail varieties as well.

Cepaea nemoralis species. Snails need to consume foods containing calcium for the healthy development of their shells.

Toothed Tongue!

Snails have a toothed tongue structure called a radula. The teeth are very small and are used to shred and grind food. The average garden snail has over 14,000 teeth in a row on its tongue.

A couple of land snails, the one on the left sticks the arrow of love into the one on the right
National Geographic by Kazuki Kimora

Love Arrows!

Some snail species use love arrows during mating. During mating, the snail in the male role stabs the snail in the female role with arrows made of this calcium. The purpose is to prevent the female from mating again and to ensure the fertilization of the male’s own sperm. But these arrows harm females, shorten their lifespan, and can even lead to death.

Transparent Snail

The Lukima Jama-Trojama cave system in Croatia is one of the deepest caves in existence on Earth, with tunnels reaching up to 1.4 kilometers below the earth’s surface.Despite this, traces of life can be found at these depths. One of the species living in these deep caves is a tiny, blind and transparent snail named Zospeum tholussum. The species averages 2 millimeters in length and was first described by Alexander Weigand from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, in the journal Subterranean Biology.

Although the one you see in the photo is the only one Weigand was able to capture alive, the 8 different dead shells discovered show that this species can live in an area ranging from 800 meters deep on the earth to the lake at the bottom. Moreover, it is known that Zospeum tholussum is not the only interesting snail species living in this range, thanks to other dead shells discovered. However, living individuals need to be discovered before these species can be confirmed.

References and Further Reading