Snail Facts

  • Snails and slugs are small, squidgy, slimy, soft-bodied crawling creatures. They belong to a huge group of animals called molluscs which have no skeleton. Squid and oysters are also molluscs.
  • Snails and slugs are gastropods, a group that also includes whelks and winkles.
  • Gastropod means ‘stomach foot’, because these animals seem to slide along on their stomachs.
  • Most gastropods live in the sea. They include limpets which stick firmly to seashore rocks.
  • Most land snails and slugs ooze a trail of sticky slime to help them move along the ground.
  • Garden snails are often hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female sex organs.
  • The great grey slugs of Western Europe court by circling each other for over an hour on a branch, then launching themselves into the air to hang from a long trail of mucus. They then mate for 7 to 24 hours.
  • Among the largest gastropods are the tropical tritons, whose 45–cm shells are sometimes used as warhorns. Conches are another big kind of gastropod.
  • Some cone snails in the Pacific and Indian oceans have teeth that can inject a poison which can actually kill people.
  • Garden snails have a shell which they seal themselves into in dry weather, making a kind of trapdoor to save moisture. They have eyes on their horns.
  • Snails are a great delicacy in France, where they are called escargot.