Snails are one of the most ancient types of animals on the planet. There are a lot of fossils dating back to the late Cambrian period that confirms this fact. So, snails lived on Earth even 500 million years ago.

There are many types of snails, but they divide into main groups based on the aquatic or terrestrial habitat. First, live in saltwater and freshwater, terrestrial snails live exclusively on land in humid areas.

All land snails are called gastropod mollusks, they belong to the phylum Mollusca. It includes animals like squids, octopuses, clams, and cuttlefishes among others. Also, they are members of the class that includes all snails and slugs - Gastropoda. Mollusks don't have internal skeletons or bones but snails have another protection which is the shell.

Gastropods adapt to a wide variety of living conditions and they don’t need a lot of food. They evolved to survive in different conditions around them which is really fascinating.

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 WHAT ARE   SNAILS? 

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 How do snails stay alive in   winter? 

Snails have a small secret - they can live in their shell during cold temperatures covering the entrance with their slime. Only a small number of snails can be active in temperatures that are below freezing point. Usually, first frosts will signalize snails to start hibernation and hide inside their shell. Their bodies are mostly water and they need to stay very humid to be alive. So the risk of transforming into ice crystals is very high and lethal. That is why snails use their multi-purpose mucus to create the door to their shell and close it in winter. Snails create a lid of slime over the shell entrance and it secured their bodies over the cold season. Additionally, they hide in cracks of the walls, under stones, or deep under leaves or soil, where frosts will not reach them so fast. Often they stay in groups while hibernating in favorite places waiting for a chance to emerge when it gets warmer.

  • Snail is a simple name for gastropod mollusks. They can be divided into three groups: land, sea, and freshwater snails.

  • Depending on snails' habitat, they can have lungs or gills. Some sea snails can have lungs and some land snails can have gills.

  • Slugs are very similar to snails but they live without a shell.

  • Snails have a ribbon-like tongue called a radula that consists of thousands of microscopic teeth. The radula works like a file, cutting up the food into tiny pieces.

  • Most of the snails are herbivores and they eat leaves, stems, and flowers. Some larger species and marine snails can be predators or even carnivores.

  • The biggest land snail is a giant African land snail. They can be about 38 cm (15 in) and can weigh 1 kg (2lb).

  • The biggest living sea snail is Syrinx aruanus. Its shell can reach 90 cm (35 in) in length and the snail can weigh up to 18 kg (40lbs)!

  • Usually, garden snails have a top speed of 45 m (50 yards) per hour. That meant that the snail is one of the slowest creatures on Earth.

  • Snails leave behind a trail of mucus while they move. This liquid acts as a lubricant to reduce surface friction. This also empowered the snail to move upside down.

  • Snails can live 5 - 25 years depending on their habitat and species.

  • Snails need a diet full of calcium to keep their shells thick and healthy.

  • Some snails can be venomous. The “cone snails,” a family of sea snails that is very dangerous and some of them are fatal to humans!

  • The usual garden snail is considered to be an agricultural or garden pest as it eats fruits, leaves, and crops.

  • In French cuisine, snails are a delicacy and are called escargot. People eat snails in many other countries of the world, mostly as a fried meal.

  • In English, "a snail's pace" is an expression to describe a slow process, and "snail mail" is now used when referring to sending regular handwritten mail rather than email.

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 Here is a variety of   interesting   information about   snails. Check it out! 

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  HOW DO SNAILS MATE  

 (SNAILS MATING) 

Mating of garden snails occurs in the early spring, after emergence from hibernation. Sometimes the second peak of sexual activity of these mollusks is observed  in the beginning of autumn. Numerous observations of snails allowed to describe their behavior in the search for partners and the very process of fertilization itself. So much attention to these mollusks scientists do not give in vain, the fact is that snails are hermaphrodites, that is, one individual is both a man and a woman. Finding a partner for pairing can be immediately determined by the behavior of the snail - it creeps, often stopping and lifting the front part of the body, as looking for someone. If she is lucky, and she meets another snail, then they embark on a "love game" preceding the act of fertilization. The ritual of courtship is very interesting - both snails stretch out, touch the soles and feel each other with mouth blades and tentacles. After such peculiar kisses, snails are stuck into each other in the body with "love arrows" - sharp known formations up to 1 centimeter long, after which spermatophores exchange. In this case, each snail performs the role of both females and males. After fertilization, the snails sprawl in different directions. Under favorable conditions, such "romantic encounters" can occur several times a month. Even after a single fertilization, the snail can store spermatophores  for one year.    

Fertilized snail eggs, covered with a protective shell contain a supply of nutrients for the full development of the embryo. The snail digs a hole in the wet ground, lays several dozen eggs measuring 4-7 millimeters and covers them after the end of the laying. For devising of such a nest, the snail takes almost 20 hours of continuous work. Depending on the temperature of the soil, after 3-4 weeks tiny snails appear from the eggs which are small copies of adults.

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 SNAIL EGGS   (SNAIL CAVIAR) 

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 HOW LONG DO   SNAILS LIVE? 

The lifespan of these mollusks in the natural environment rarely reaches 6-8 years, since they have a lot of natural enemies. As pets land snails can live up to 10 -15 years or more. Do you know what eats snails? Grape snails gladly include in their menu mice, hedgehogs, predatory insects, frogs and toads, lizards, birds, skunks.  People don’t refuse to diversify their diet with snails meat.  Eating snails is very popular in different European cuisines. For example, a very tasty dish of French cuisine is called "Escargot".

People have paid attention and tasted garden snails for a long time.  In ancient Greece land snails were quite common, and even the poorest and most ordinary people could eat them.  For Roman legionnaires in their long march snails were kind of natural canned food and affordable healthy food. Monks in the Middle Ages bred these mollusks on vegetable beds to replenish and diversify the meager diet during fasting.  Snails have got even to Africa and to the Antilles islands with people; the European colonizers brought with themselves favorite delicacies. Meat snails are not so beloved by many peoples.  It contains 70% protein (which is one third more than in chicken eggs), 20% amino acids and 10% fat. Also there are trace elements and vitamins in the snail meat in such quantities that in many countries the pharmaceutical industry uses it as raw material for the production of medicines.  Another advantage of this meat is that it does not contain cholesterol, so a snail diet with snail's meat is recommended for patients with obesity, liver diseases and atherosclerosis.  The ancient Greeks knew about that for a long time, and modern studies have confirmed that the meat of snails as a powerful aphrodisiac, and the enzyme responsible for this can simultaneously enhance both the female libido and the male potency.  Special success in the preparation of dishes from snail's meat was achieved by famous gourmets - the French.  A lot of dishes from snails can be found in the menu of French restaurants called escargot.  Snails with garlic sauce, snails Burgundy, and snail oil - these and many other recipes using snail's meat have become classics of French cuisine. Especially recommended to use the snail's meat for all violations of the balance of calcium in the body - pregnant women, nursing mothers, patients with diseases of bone and cartilage tissue.

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 SNAIL EATING 

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 WHAT IS   ESCARGOT? 

The Escargot (plural  - escargots) is a very popular French food cuisine cooked with land snails. Escargots are usually served as a starter in Portugal, Spain and in France, and are a typical dish in the Catalan region of Spain. The word "Escargot" is also applied sometimes to the living snails of those species which are commonly eaten in this way. Escargot, meaning "edible snail", seems to date from 1892 and derives from the word escaragol (Provençal) and thence escargol (Old French). But not all species of the land snails are edible, and many of them are very small to make it worth to prepare and cook. Even among the edible species, the palatability of the flesh varies from species to species. In Europe (France), the species Helix Pomatia (brown garden snail) is most popular and often eaten. The "petit-gris" Cornu aspersa is also eaten, as the Helix lucorum. Several additional species, such as Elona quimperiana, are popular in Europe. Apple snails (Pila Polita) are also consumed in Asia and can be found in Asian markets in North America. If you would like to try snail eating, you need to buy live land large snails Helix Pomatia (or any other species of snails) and via Google search you can find a lot  of escargot recipes and how to cook the Escargot dish.

And now let’s talk where to find snails or where to buy snails. Snails can be found in forests, fields, and vineyards, where they grew themselves. There are many places you can find snails via Internet. The most popular websites are: Ebay.com, Amazon.com, Petsmart.com,  etc. Moreover, you can buy here, in our website Helix Pomatia and Cepaea Vindobonensis land snails. 

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 WHERE TO FIND   SNAILS AND   WHERE TO BUY   SNAILS? 

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 Why snails bubble and  what  does it mean? 

Snails can be associated with 2 things: slow speed and slime. They produce slimy secretions that prevent their bodies from drying and helps them to move without injuries. They may be slow but their reactions are pretty fast since they need to survive. Snails quickly produce foamy and bubbly secretion to save them from threats.

Protection from Enemies

It is obvious that snail will not be able to run away from the enemy. When a snail sees a big predator, it hides into its shell to survive. But if it's a smaller predator, the snail can use plan B. For example, when ants try to bite the snail and crawl inside the shell snail just created a bubbly mess not to let them in.

Avoiding Harmful Substances

Snails can smell food from several feet of distance, they have good smell and taste senses. So, if a snail detects something unpleasant, it will be quick to react. Even if you offer lettuce covered with acid, snails will not eat it. It will start producing foam to protect itself from unpleasant substances.

Dehydration Threat

The most common threat for a snail is dehydration. Slime prevents the snail from it but bubbling can also be used for this purpose. The most dramatic case is when people sprinkle salt on snails to destroy them. Salt will suck out water from snail and it starts bubbling. Bubbles have air inside and protect from salt for a while but if there is too much salt - snail will dry out.

Getting to the New Level

Land snails use bubbling only for protection, while sea snails became more creative. Some ocean snails create slime bubbles to form rafts and get closer to the surface. Their snails are able to access their favorite food - jellyfish!

What do snail eggs look like?

Each snail species has different types of eggs but freshwater snails are very similar and easy to identify. They will be clutched together in a transparent sac and look like jelly bubbles that are colored depending on the snail's type.

If the egg is fertilized it usually changes color and small dark spots can be visible over a short period of time. This indicates that yolks are developing. Unfertilized eggs don't change color and start to smell like rotten eggs after some time.

 

How do snails reproduce?

This differs on species but most snails are hermaphrodites. Some are asexual and can reproduce by themselves. Some mate and play "love darts. Some snail species may lay eggs a couple of times every month. Once a snail shoots the dart it transfers sperm-boosting secretions and fertilizes eggs. Usually, the healthiest snail will win in this game.

 

Where do snails lay their eggs?

Snails eggs enter the aquarium system with plants. They put eggs on leaves and they may be difficult to spot because eggs are on the backside of the leaf. When you put a new plant to your terrarium, you may put future snails as well. Eggs also can be found on decorations, rocks, and driftwood. Always examine and quarantine all the items you put into your aquarium.

 

What to do with your baby snails and snail eggs

If you find snails eggs or baby snails that have already hatched - you may think about what to do with them all. There are a few options that can help you to deal with snails in your aquarium.

1. Let them hatch

Snails can be considered unwanted organisms in your aquarium. On the other side, they can become a part of the aquarium’s cleanup crew. Snails are a healthy part of your system as long as their population is normal. If you have problems with algae or other detritus, snails can be a free method to clean up. However, when the algae are gone, the snails will need to be fed to keep them from starving.

2. Use for feeding

Some people grow large populations of snails to feed their fish, like puffers that need to keep their beaks trimmed. It is not difficult to raise snails in a separate breeder. It requires a 5 to 10 gallon (18.9 L to 37.9 L) tank and proper water conditions as well as food. You can select foods that will raise the healthy population of snails and affect the ratio of your fish as well.

3. Humanely dispose of them

If you do not want a freshwater snail riot in your own tank and your fish don't eat them, there is only one option left. There is a lot of controversy about the ways of humanely disposing of the snail, but removing them and placing them in a freezer tends to be the best method.

To detect if most of the snails are out from your tank just place a vegetable, like lettuce, in your tank. The snails will smell the food through the water and gather on the food.

However, if you want to prevent the snails from entering your aquarium in the first place, freezing won't help. Hobbyists have different methods for dipping live plants. You can make bleach mixes, salt mixes, hydrogen peroxide mixes, or use other pre-made aquarium products.

Conclusion

It is easy to identify snail eggs, the only problem is catching them before they hatch and potentially take over your whole aquarium! Remember that snails can be a natural element of freshwater systems and help clean up your ecosystem. If you don’t want additional snails in your tank, then you can always feed your other livestock or humanely dispose them.

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 Aquarium Snail   Eggs 

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SNAIL'S HOUSE

Don't place a terrarium under the direct sunlight! This is a common mistake! Snails do not enjoy basking in the sun like reptiles do. While different snail species have different levels of tolerance towards dryness and sunlight, excessive exposure to sunlight (which to certain species equals to a mere couple of hours) will result in dehydration and death.

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SNAIL'S HOUSE

Don't place a terrarium under the direct sunlight! This is a common mistake! Snails do not enjoy basking in the sun like reptiles do. While different snail species have different levels of tolerance towards dryness and sunlight, excessive exposure to sunlight (which to certain species equals to a mere couple of hours) will result in dehydration and death.

The terrarium substrate. The substrate should be about 2 inches or 5 cm deep. It should be a layer of all-purpose, peat-free potting soil that you can buy in any gardening centre. Hint: check the bag for the pH measurement (which is usually written in small print on the back): what you want to buy is a soil with pH above 7. Soil with a lower pH is an acid and this on the long run may damage your snail’s delicate shell. If you decide to use soil from your own garden, be ready to bring also all the tiny critters inhabiting it into your tank. For this reason, some people recommend “sterilizing” the soil by putting it in the hot oven or in the fridge for some time before pouring it in the tank.

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  SUBSTRATE  

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WHAT DO SNAILS EAT (FOOD FOR SNAIL)

Snails found in forest will happily feed on vegetables and fruit (no citrus, though!). Also, leave a piece of cuttlefish bone in the terrarium (they are commonly in commerce as calcium supplies for birds): your snail will appreciate it!They like to eat cucumbers, lettuce, apples, carrots (they prefer the greens), bananas, broccoli, beans, potatoes, porridge, strawberries, corn  and of course chalk, which is always available in an extra bowl. I'm sure they like even more various vegetables and fruits. I haven't had the chance to try others yet. What they don't need is an extra bowl of water - in the contrary: Whenever they are faced with a lot of water, they seem to panic and crawl for the highest ground available. Also, if a dish is very light, adult snails easily throw it over, flooding their home. Water is continuously condensing on the walls, so they drink it there when it is required, but since there is also plenty of water in their food, it isn't really necessary to use the soil by putting it in the hot oven or in the fridge for some time before pouring it in the tank.

Snails are usually crepuscular or nocturnal creatures and they will often spend daytime hiding, so you want to provide them with a “home” to which they can retire. A broken terracotta flower pot will provide a comfortable hiding spot for most snails. Some species however prefer hiding among rocks, while others will climb as high as possible and rest under the lid of the terrarium, and others yet will burrow in the soil, so you will have to observe your snail’s behavior to adapt to the terrarium to their specific needs and preferences. Snails are also keen climbers and will appreciate twigs and branches. If you wish, you can use a small plate on which to place food instead of placing it directly on the soil (not recommended if you also keep earthworms and other tank mates that should feed on the leftovers). Do not add a pool or water dish. While some exotic snails (such as Achatina spp.) appreciate it, our local snails do not need it and may actually drown in it. PLANTS It is a good idea to keep some live plants even in the small basic terrarium. Ferns and moss are a good choice for a tank where there is high humidity and low sunlight exposure. Hint: avoid using plants that will need plenty of sunlight or other conditions which are incompatible with your snail in your terrarium.

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  FURNISHING 

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 PLANTS 

It is a good idea to keep some live plants even in the small basic terrarium. Ferns and moss are a good choice for a tank where there is a high humidity and low sunlight exposure.
Hint: avoid using plants which will need plenty of sunlight or other conditions which are incompatible with your snail in your terrarium.

Aeration and humidity are important in your tank and the lid you will use will influence both. There are different options you may adopt, which are basically different compromises: the more aeration, in fact, the less humidity in the tank. You will have to find the balance that works for your own tank.
Aeration is provided by holes and openings either on the side of the tank, or, more commonly on the lid. Check the soil – it should be moist but never puddly. Hint: if your tank is too damp, you may need more openings. If it is too dry in spite of spraying water regularly, you may want to try and cover some of the existing holes with plastic wrap.

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 LID 

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WHAT DO
GARDENS SNAILS EAT?

Garden snails (Helix Pomatia) are herbivorous animals, mostly they eat large leafy greens (plantain, horse sorrel, burdock, dandelion, nettle, cabbage, strawberries, clover, etc., only about 30 different kinds of cultivated and wild plants), as well as soil and fallen fruit (including rotting).  These snails are not in vain considered serious pests of agriculture. Having an enviable appetite they eat up young shoots of cultivated plants, causing huge losses. The snails don’t have ordinary teeth in the oral cavity, they have a radula (grater), thanks to which food is scraped, crushed and sent to the esophagus.  Due to constant friction, the teeth of the snails quickly become unusable, but for mollusks this is not a problem - new teeth constantly grow in the mouth, which gradually move into the working zone.  Similar regeneration of teeth in the oral cavity is a characteristic of sharks, in which teeth are also regularly updated.

In the daytime, snails sit in their shells and with the onset of night and coolness go to feed. These mollusks are especially active after showers.  The period of active wakefulness in grape snails is an average of 5 months.  All summer they accumulate nutrients in the body, and when the air temperature drops to 18-12 degrees, they leave for wintering, digging in at 5-10 centimeters into the soil. They can be buried to a depth of 30-35 cm in cold areas. Fallen foliage and then snow safely protect the mollusks from frost.  Although the snail, having closed in the sink, falls into a stupor, the metabolic processes in its body do not stop, although it is very slow.  Cardiac activity drops to one contraction per minute. During winter hibernation the snail loses up to 10% of its weight.  In spring, when the earth warms up to 6-8 degrees, the snails wake up, gain air into the lung, dump the lids from the shell and leave their winter shelters.  Hungry and active, they go in search of food.  After satisfying their hunger, the mollusks begin to search for partners for reproduction.

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 WHAT DO
SNAILS DO? 

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 SNAIL SHELL 

When keeping these mollusks at home in the snail terrarium, you have to make a  snail’s house and always keep a mineral additive to the food in a separate feeder - chalk, ground eggshell, or other sources of calcium.  Only by eating these minerals, the snail shell will be large, strong, and without damage, and the growth of mollusks is markedly increased, the chips and cracks on the shells heal faster.

Yes. These are the two largest "antennas" on the front of the snail. A picture of the anatomical structure of the snail can be seen here (link). However, it should be noted that snails do not distinguish the colors, as well as the contours of the objects that surround them. With the help of the eyes, snails can distinguish only lights and shadows. Usually, when you touch a snail, it hides its eyes first. It is very interesting to watch how the eyes hide and open. Important! Do not touch the snail's eyes for fun, snails don’t like it. You probably don't want anyone to poke you in the eye. No living thing is pleased with this. Have that in mind!

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DO SNAILS HAVE EYES?

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DO SNAILS HAVE A NOSE OR CAN THEY SMELL?

Yes. Snails have a nose. These are small horns (antennae) under the eyes on the front of the snail. A picture of the anatomical structure of the snail can be seen here. With these "antennas" the snail can smell. Snails have a very developed sense of smell. You can check this by simply placing the snail on one side of the terrarium and some food on the other. The snail will smell food and quickly crawl to eat something delicious that you have prepared for him.