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Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Snails - Part 1

Did you know that a snail only has one foot. So how does it move?

A snail moves with a series of muscular contractions like waves that pass along the bottom of the foot.

To help it to move, the snail produces a trail of slime from a gland under its mouth. You can often see these slime trails on paths, plant pots and even on windows.
Snails are very slow moving creatures and most people find them to be boring. However, there are some very interesting facts about them that can help you to see them in a new light. They aren’t brainless creatures as many people think.
Many species of snails actually hibernate during the colder months of the year. They cover their bodies with a thin layer of mucus which prevents them from drying out. Sometimes snails are also able to hibernate in the summer to survive if they are faced with a severe drought. They live off of the stored up fat during this time of year. This process is one of the many reasons why they have been able to survive for more than 60 million years.
The life span for snails depends on their habitat and the species. Some of them only live for about 5 years. However, others in the wild are believed to be at least 25 years old. Many researchers believe the life span of snails is decreasing due to humans destroying their habitat and due to pollution.
The largest land snail recorded weighed only 2 pounds and was 15 inches long. It was discovered in 1976. Others are extremely small being only a few centimeters long when they are adults and weighing just a couple of ounces.
As snails move they leave behind slime. This slime is like a powerful form of suction for them. This is why they are even able to move upside down, around corners, and other comical situations. It is a myth that this type of slime is going to make humans ill. Many people worry that snails being in their garden will ruin the foods grown there and make them unfit for consumption but that is all false.

38 comments:

Firefly said...

I love the big zebra snails. I have picked up 2 shells recently, but haven't seen a live one for ages.

JM said...

Snails are such interesting creatures! I took a shot at two gigantic snails, the biggest I've seen, in Ivory Coast, but the photo sucks! :-)

Tony nile life said...

Got loads of water snails in Egypt but as yet have not seen one on land.
the snails are the main food of the glossy Ibis. interesting post,
did you know they like beer, I used to get rid of the snails and slugs in my garden in wales by giving them free beer, not lager, once in the pot they where finished, one of the nasty things they do in the uk. give slug pellets, the birds eat the dead snails and the bird will die.

Lynda said...

My ignorance with regard to snails is vast! Thank you for this post.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Interesting post Joan. We have masses of snails here, they must just stay out of my vegetable garden! Of course a lot of snails here end up in the cook pot! My neighbour had a sink full of them the other day. Diane

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

All the snails I find are naturally not water ones Jonker. You have a great advanntage there of having both.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! That happens Jose. Especially when you really WANT them to come out good. Those huge ones #2 &3 were taken in Kruger and they grow pretty big there too, probably because there is not much who eats them. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

It is just the opposite here Tony with no water ones found.

I believe if you spray them with salt water you can get rid of them too and then it will not kill the birds.

Beer? LOL!! That is a new one to me but if it works, it works. :) What a waste of good beer though!! :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are welcome Lynda. I am pleased you found it of interest. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks Diane. I know that some of these are edible but I would rather have grass and leaves thank you!! :)

Gaelyn said...

Snails are very cool critters. I knew they'd been around a long time but didn't realize they had such a long life span. I've always thought they were especially great because they carry their homes on their backs. Almost like I do, but without the slime. ;)

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Joan: What a big snail you had. I don't think I've seen that size. We only have slugs in our are.

Craig Glenn said...

Crap, now I have to go find some snails... I just can't keep up with you...

LOL

Great shots and Info J! I loved reading about them and wonder if we even have them and Tom pointed out.

Are they hard to sneak up on?

Craig Glenn

blog with no name said...

Hi Joan! You heard the one about the snail catching a ride on a turtle's back? The snail kept yelling "Slow down! You tryin' to get us both killed?!" LOL
Sweet shots too!

troutbirder said...

Ah! Finally something I might still be able to beat in a foot race. Well I suppose I should give them a head start as I have two feet.

Philip said...

Ok I have a question whats the difference between a slug and a snail is it just the shell or does the bug lady know more :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

How convenient that is Gaelyn. I wish I could carry mind around too it would make it so much easier. But what do I do for a toilet? LOL!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Some of them are even bigger than this Tom but most of them are found in areas where there are not too many predators.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You should have plenty of stunning ones there Craig as you have the advantage of the and and sea ones. I know down in the Everglades they come in the most fantastic clors too.

So out you go please and find me some!! :)

Well being able to sneak up on them and anything is an art in itself. I think I should open a Sneaky School? :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! Love that one Mike!! I hope they did not get into a speed wobble?? :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! Even with the advantage of me having two feet I think they will still beat me TB!! :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A good question Philip. Slugs not not have hard hard shells to cover them. :)

Zane said...

Now a snail is one thing I will not touch or eat - no matter what restuarant prepares it. Ever wonder why they always do snails in garlic butter?

I heard about carnivourous snails which look similar to the 2nd photograph. There are large snails in the dune fields near Cape Recife around Port Elizabeth. Maybe Jonker will spend the night and see if they are indeed carnivorous.

Nice post Joan.

Steven Alexander said...

Thanks for very informative post. Good stuff!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Nothing on earth could ever persuade me to try them either Zane. And I do agree about why they use garlic. :)


Yes, we are going to have to speak to Jonker, he should be out there find out these things for us. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You are welcome Steven. It is wonderful hearing from you again. You have been posting a lot of interesting things too. That certainly is a most interesting part of the world you live in.

Craver Vii said...

I wonder about something... If a snail travels on a path that is already "slimed," does it move faster?

25 yr-old snails? Those are 25 loooooooong years!!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thats a sticky question Craver. :) I would huess if it was at a downhill angle, they sure would. :) I had no idea they lived so long either, no wonder some species get so big.

birdy said...

A very interesting post about snail. Snail do exist in our area, but not that bigger and beautiful.

Rambling Woods said...

Really..I love this info..I will have to give them more respect...

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You know Birdy, I am sure you have also found that since you started doing photography, there are so many things which you never noticed before. Up until I began, I would also have thought that snails are all the same and yet look at the variety there is. It is amazing. :)

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

As slimy and unwanted as they are, they also have their place in the circle of life and if you take them out of it, the whole circle breaks down. Thanks Michelle. :)

Mary said...

All of the shells are so pretty. I don't see snails much. These look very big!

Becky and Gary said...

Now I never knew all these interesting facts about snails, and what beauties you have in SA.
I took some pictures a few weeks ago of snail slime on a leaf that looks like the color of aluminum
B.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I mostly seem to find them after the rains here Mary but it is not often. The ones I am holding are very bid but the first and last ones are only about half and inch in length.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That sounds interesting Becky. I wonder what makes it look lke that?

Ida from South Africa said...

Thanks for showing the beauty of the snails. They love my Agapanthus and Arum Lilies!

Ek moet maar leer om hulle te verdra, of kwakkies aanskaf!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Their favourite food Ida!! :

Ek het gehoor as jy die blome met soutwater sproei dan bly hulle weg. Probeer dit en sien. :)