What are Snails?
Snails are the molluscs that are a member of the Gastropod class. There are around 43,000 species of snails categorized into freshwater snails, sea snails, and land snails. They can survive for one to three years or even till 25 years. It all depends on their species and habitat.
The First Snail
It was around 550 million years ago when the first snail was living on the seafloor. It evolved into a land snail around 286 million years ago. This happened as they moved towards land, and their lungs developed for breathing.
Snails are Hermaphrodites
Snails are mostly hermaphrodites. This means that they can be both males as well as females. While some snails can reproduce independently via asexual reproduction, other hermaphrodite snails need another snail for reproduction.
Apple snails are among the most popular species of snails that people buy for their freshwater aquariums. They come in an array of colours- from blue and gold to even tiger. These snails grow up to as much as six inches. Hence, it is advised to buy a massive tank for keeping these. They also keep eating plants in the aquarium. So, make sure your tank is always loaded with plants.
Also called Helix aspersa, garden snails are very common in Europe and other regions of the world. These are known for damaging crops and plants to a large extent. Covered with slimy mucus, these snails are usually 1-1.3 inches long. They have soft bodies with cream or yellow-coloured shells and brownish spiral stripes. The garden snails use their shells as protection when they feel threatened. Interestingly, they are even protected by the shells when they are out of them. These snails feed on plants and hence, are supremely dangerous for farms. They can find their food on trees, tree barks, flowers as well as cereals.
Giant African Land Snails
Giant African land snails can grow up to eight inches long. These are among the largest terrestrial gastropods in the world. They usually have brown shells with dark brown vertical stripes. On average, they live for five to seven years. Some can even go on living for a decade. These are invasive species that damage agriculture and crops. These voracious eaters can gobble down 500 species of plants. They have adapted to survive in regions apart from their natural habitat. This has made them even a greater threat now.
Mediterranean Green Snails
These snails can grow as long as five inches. They have come into existence only after the 1980s. Established in Western Australia, Mediterranean green snails eat a vast variety of plants, such as leafy vegetables, cereal crops, and pasture grasses. These are also found in the rainforests of Northern Africa.
These small species get their name from the fact that they usually cause damage in orchards and greenhouses. Blue in colour, these snails have a reddish-brown shell. They are as tiny as one-third of an inch. Thanks to their size, they can crawl inside as well as underneath plant pots. So, you need to be very careful of them.
Once found only in Europe, Roman snails are now all across the globe. Also known as an edible snail or burgundy snail, it has a pretty shell that makes up for around one-third of its total weight. Escargot, a French dish, is made from this snail. Usually, it is one or two inches long. This is a land snail with light brown to creamy coloured shell and dark brown bands. Interestingly, these snails have two pairs of tentacles over their heads. The top tentacles have their eyes, while the bottom ones contain the smell sensors. Additionally, these snails are found on different types of hedges, bushes, vineyards, etc. This is all thanks to their high adaptability.
Snails and Slugs are Same
As an evolution outcome, some slugs possess internal shells and not outer shells to help in a quick movement. Snails and slugs are pretty much the same creatures.
Snails are Everywhere!
You can find snails in every corner of the world as more than 150,000 species of these gastropods. They can survive in the desert, water, and various other habitats.
They can Repair Hearts!
Well, not exactly. Snails contain slime, which helps them in sticking to surfaces. Medical experts have used the slime for developing adhesive tapes and glue used for repairing hearts. This has been tested just on pig hearts so far, but it is promising nonetheless.
Their Breathing Mechanism
Slugs have either gills or lungs. It all depends on what they rely on to survive. Some snails can also have both of these. There are freshwater snails that depend on the lungs for breathing. They need to swim to the surface of the water for getting air. They don’t use gills. A type of snail also uses a siphon-looking device that allows them to get air from the water surface with the help of a thing that looks similar to a small tube.
Snails can Kill Starfish
Some giant snails can grow up to a foot in length and can also kill starfish. Before killing, they paralyze the starfish using their saliva, which is venomous. These snails kill as well as eat starfish pretty often. (See How Are Slugs and Snails Different?)
There are Some Unique Snails
You will be surprised to know that not all snails have smooth shells. Some of them even have hairy shells. Mostly, these snails habitat in humid areas and are juveniles. As per the experts, the hair aids in movement through wet regions.
15 Types of Snails and Facts about Them
What are the Different Types of Snails? Apple Snail, Garden Snail, Giant African Land Snail, Mediterranean Green Snail and many more.