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A grapewine snail (Helix pomatia)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Pulmonata
Family: Helicidae

A snail is a common name for a kind of mollusc. It is a gastropod, with a coiled shell. There are aquatic snails, which live in water, and land snails.

Usually, by 'snail' people mean the snails on land. Land snails usually have lungs, and are in the order Pulmonata. Aquatic snails are in other orders, and usually have gills. Close relatives of the snails are the slugs, which are basically snails without shells. Both slugs and snails are numerous and successful on land. Most land snails and slugs are herbivorous. Aquatic snails and slugs are usually omnivores or predatory carnivores.

In some countries, like France, people eat snails. After the snails are cooked, they make a dish called Escargot, a delicacy in France. They usually boil them in salt water, and add a garlic sauce.

The biggest snail is the giant African snail. It is 35 cm long. The fastest snail is the Helis aspersa. It can reach speeds up to 0.03 mph.

Body parts[change | edit source]

Shell[change | edit source]

Snails are invertebrates, which are animals with no backbones. The shell on the snail helps protect it, and also reduces the loss of water by evaporation. Shells are many different shapes, sizes, and colours. Snails do not breathe through their mouths, instead they have a breathing hole under their shells.

Foot[change | edit source]

A snails "foot" is a muscle which allows it to move slowly across the ground. The foot puts out ('exudes') slime, which eases the snail's movement, leaving a trail. Snails can absorb mineral nutrients through their foot by simply sitting on a rock containing it.

Head[change | edit source]

The head is attached to the foot. The mouth is like a cheese grater. It is called a radula. It is used for cutting food. On the radula there are little teeth. On the head there are 15 mm stalks. On the end of the stalks are snail’s eyes, though they do not see very well.

Habitat[change | edit source]

Snails are found all over the world. Generally speaking, land snails live on damp habitats. They live in caves and dark places. Snails can be found in dark places such as in a garden under plants. Some species live in cold places like the Arctic, and a few are found in warm places like beaches and deserts.

Some snails are aquatic, and live in water. They live in the sea, fish tanks, rivers and oceans. They don’t swim in the water, but stick to rocks.

Food[change | edit source]

Land snails eat vegetables and fruits, such as lettuce, carrots, cucumber and apples. Aquatic snails are often carnivorous. Snails use their radula to cut food. The radula is a hard, rough plate in the mouth. Radula teeth are like little pieces of sandpaper. They are good for cutting up plants and if the snail eats meat they are good for tearing the meat apart. Radula teeth look like little fangs.

Many animals eat snails. Fireflies, snakes, beetles, fish, insects, turtles, and people all eat snails too. To defend themselves, snails pull back into their shells.

Slugs[change | edit source]

Slugs evolved from snails which reduced, and finally lost, their shells. They live in similar habitats.

Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  • O’Neil, Sarah 1999. Snails. Scholastic Canada. ISBN 0-7791-1181-8.
  • Henwood, Chris 2005. Keeping minibeasts: snails and slugs. Sea to Sea. ISBN 1-932889-21-3.
  • Stidworthy, John 2002. Cool facts: creepy crawlies. Parragon 2000. ISBN 0-75255-903-6.
  • Ghesquiere, Stijn 1998. Apple snails. [1]