Snails are one of the earliest known types of animals evolved on the surface of the earth more than 600 million years ago. They are classified as mollusks due to their hard shells that protect their bodies from the variant environmental conditions that they have evolved from. Snails are found in every part of the world, in oceans, on trees, and on land. They are very slow moving creatures who can travel large distances of land and water for months together and live in tiny holes of mud or on leaves.
Snails belong to the class Gastropoda, which literally means 'belly foot animals' that crawl on their bellies. There are two kinds of snails viz, sea snails and land snails. They have some common traits as well as individual ones since they have a huge difference in their habitats.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Order: Stylommatophora
- Group Name: Rout
- All snails have a protective shell which is their home.
- They are considerably tiny animals who travel for miles without food.
- They live for about 15 years and mature sexually in 2 years after birth.
- Their habitat comprises gardens, parks, forests, dunes, and the bottom of the sea and other water bodies.
- Their diet includes living and decaying plants and leftovers found on the leaves and seaweeds.
- After maturity, their gestation period is 2 to 4 weeks. They lay about 85 eggs out of which very few survive and hatch into new snails.
- The largest land snail is the Ghana tiger snail, which can grow up to 12 inches long. The biggest sea snail is the Syrinx araunus, which can grow up to 30 inches long and weigh 40 pounds.
- Snails are hermaphrodites, which means that they have male as well as female reproductive organs and produce both eggs and sperm.
- Garden snails move the fastest at 55 yards an hour
- These animals are deaf.
- The slime that they produce enables them to walk on a razor edge and not get cut.
- They are nocturnal creatures
- There is a difference in the shell sizes and shapes of the sea and land snails, as the sea snail shells are somewhat conical in shape and larger in size.
- There are a variety of types in the ones living in the sea as well with those living in tanks and other water bodies apart from the ocean. Top shells and periwinkles are some such examples.
- The creases on the shells defines the snails' age most of the time and are formed due to the Calcium secretions by the body.
- Sea snails graze on seaweed from the grass and off the rocks in the water, their personal favorites are sea lettuce. Some of them even eat algae and other smaller mollusks.
- They are food for a number of predators like crabs, fish, and starfish, which after eating them use their shells as homes (especially the hermit crab).
Garden or Land Snails
- These snails are considered to be very strong and can lift up to 10 times their own body weight in the vertical position.
- Though they are the slowest animals in the world, the fastest in their species is the garden snail which can travel 55 yards per hour.
- Another type, the Giant African land snail, can eat more than 500 different types of plants. Otherwise, their diets are simply leaves and berries off their habitats. They die if they consume sugar or salt.
- They grow in a spiral manner every year and their shells are called the whorl, which gives the exact age of the snail. Their shells are of various colors like yellow, pink, cream, and purple.
- Snails hibernate during winter and live on stored fat. They are eaten by chickens, geese, turtles, and snakes.
- They love a damp and dark environment and can't survive in scorching heat. If the heat is a lot, they enter their shells and stay there for very long periods.
- Their tentacles or antennae are present to test danger and sights of food. These are sensory apparatus which are used for protection as well as feeding habits of the snails.