Whenever someone mentions the name snail, three things typically come to the minds of people. The first is food, where snails are served as Escargot. The second is that they are extremely slow. And the third is that they are slimy.
All three are actually correct because certain types of these slow, slimy animals are served live in the form of Escargot. But since they aren't exactly the fastest food on the planet, the danger of them running off your table is quite minimal.
So what exactly are snails anyway?
When I did some research, I was a little surprised to learn that snails are classified as molluscs because they are invertebrates, or animals that don't have any skeletons.
[My biology teacher would be so ashamed of me...]
If I had been paying attention more closely to my biology classes back in high school, chances are, I would have remembered that little tidbit. But in my defense, whenever I come across the word “Mollusc,” I think of oysters.
And since Oysters are also officially classified as molluscs, the sudden shame of of my biology teacher now turns to a bit of pride.
[At least I hope so...]
Thankfully, our biology lesson ends there.
Sure, I can talk about snails being related to the Octopus, the Squid, the Cuttlefish and clams, including the delicious Oyster when served fresh and Mussels when served baked in Garlic and Butter.
I can also say that molluscs are the second in number to the Arthropods, which cover spiders, crabs, and insects.
[But then if I did that, you might end up with another nose bleed.]
So to keep things short and sweet, let's jump into a few facts about our slow moving friends.
- Mollusks may have walked, excuse me, crawled the earth as far back as 600 million years ago.
- In addition to snails that live on land, there are fresh and saltwater snails too.
- Some snails have lungs, while others have gills.
- They are hermaphrodites, meaning that they function like males and females.
- Snails walk on a thin bed of slime which allows them to climb vertical walls.
- They are most active at night because the sun's heat will dry them out.
- They can live as long as 15 years, just like Hermit Crabs.
- The African Snail is the biggest, with a length of 15 inches and a weight of two pounds.
- Snails have poor eyesight and no hearing, but their sense of smell is very good.
- Salt and sugar are fatal to snails.
- Most are herbivores, eating leaves, fruits, vegetables, algae, and chalk.
- Farmers consider them to be pests because enough of them can decimate crops.
- Other than people, ducks, geese, caterpillars, beetles, and leeches like eating them.
- Some sea snails are carnivores and carry toxins strong enough to permanently injure humans.
- They can go into suspended animation for several months if needed.
And there you have it, fifteen fun facts about the slow moving snail.
So the next time you happen to come across a snail in your garden, take a second to give it a little respect.
They have, after all been here longer than we humans have. So they must be doing something right.