Slowly, slowly, fascinating snail…

garden snail

Hermaphrodite with multiple noses…

The slimy garden snail that seems to appear from nowhere after it rains is actually a fascinating creature with a single lung and some able to live underwater as they have gills.

So what about eating? Snails have a rough tongue called a radula, has your cat ever licked tour hand? well its a pretty rough tongue and a snail tongue is made of tiny microscopic teeth-like structures. They are generally herbivores, eating vegetation but some sea species are omnivores, eating both meat and plants.

Reproduction is an interesting one as snails and slugs are hermaphrodites and are able to reproduce on their own although it is more common to find a mate. They then lay eggs in the dirt and it takes between 2 to 4 weeks before the babies hatch. They then stay in the parents vicinity for up to 3 months, after which they head out into the big wide world.

How long can our newborn snail expect to live? Well, that all depends on the species but anything from 5 to 20 odd years ! given that they can lay eggs multiple times a month with the common garden snail laying about 80 at a time and other species between 5 and 200 makes for a lot of snails.

Gardeners, fear not ! Help is close by as the natural predators come in the form of hedgehogs, newts, toads and some birds. A good idea to attract them is to have a pond which can double up as a garden feature.

Snails have a single foot and move about on a trail of slime which enables them to be able to ‘walk’ or should we say ‘slide’ upside down.

What about eyes? they are found on the ends of the two top stalks and like the lower stalks can be retracted for protection. They kind of fold inwards as they shrink. The lower stalks are used for touch and feeling their way around.

If any of these stalks are damaged, the snail simply grows a new one. These stalks also have sensory cells which help the snail to find food which is why people say that snails have four noses.

A fascinating survival trick of the snail is to seal its shell and hibernate or more accurately to estivate when conditions are not favorable. They can do this for up to three years!

What a fascinating world we live in !

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