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Do Snails Crawl? (Or Do They Slither?)

Snails are slow-moving animals that belong to the phylum Mollusca and class Gastropoda. They are gastropods with shells; gastropods without shells are known as slugs. There are three major types of snails based on their habitat – these include land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails. Land snails live on land, sea snails live in saltwater while freshwater snails live in freshwater. Some snails are amphibious, which means, they can migrate between land and freshwater or between land and saltwater.

One of the main characteristics of snails is that they are very slow creatures, which can be attributed to their possession of muscular foot instead of actual legs and the fact that they have to carry a heavy shell on their tiny bodies. Aside from that, their manner of movement is not often clear, whether they are actually crawling or slithering.

Today, we will address a very important question snail owners and lovers often ask – “do snails crawl”.

do snails crawl

Do Snails Crawl or Slither?

Snails crawl; they don’t slither.

Slithering means to move smoothly across a surface with a twisting motion while crawling means to drag the body close to the ground at a a slow pace. Animals that slither include leeches, salamanders and worms slither while crawling animals include snails, alligators, sloths, turtles, beetles and iguanas.

Snails do not move in a twisting or oscillating manner, so we can’t say they slither. Also, snails don’t have legs so they can’t run or walk. Instead, they crawl using their muscular foot. To do this, they secret mucus-like slime which reduces the friction between their muscular foot and the ground. This keeps them from getting hurt even when they move on sharp objects. 

How Do Snails Crawl?

We have established in the previous subheading that snails crawl and they don’t slither or walk. There’s a gland inside the front end of their muscular foot which secret the slime on which they move. This gland is called the suprapedal gland or the mucous pedal gland.

Snail produce this slimy mucus to protect them from environmental hazards like sharp objects. It also keeps them from getting hurt while crawling on the ground. It acts as a lubricant and reduces the friction between the snail’s muscular foot and the ground thus aiding movement.

So, how do snails crawl? Snails crawl using their muscular foot. They secret slimy mucus from their mucous pedal gland then, they crawl on the layer of mucus with their muscular foot moving in a muscular motion.

How do snails crawl over razor blades?

The mucus of a snail is made up of 98% water and 2% protein and carbohydrate. This ensures the mucus to be stable yet flexible. The mucus acts as a protective layer between the bottom of the snail (the muscular foot) and the sharp blade of the razor. 

When the foot comes in contact with the sides of the blade, it carries the weight of the snail but the pressure it exerts on the blade is too small. This enables the snail to crawl over the edge of the razor without getting hurt. It’s just like when you place a finger on the sharp edge of a blade. You will notice that if no pressure is applied, you won’t get hurt.

So two things enable the snail to crawl over a razor blade without getting hurt – the slimy mucus it secrets which acts as a protective layer under the foot and the fact that the pressure applied by the snail on the blade is too small or insignificant.

How do snails crawl up walls?

Snails crawl up walls the same way they crawl on ground or land. They secret mucus which they glide over as they move forward, leaving behind a trail of slime.

But why do snails climb up walls? When snails don’t enough calcium from their diet, they might climb walls to eat the paint or concrete on the wall as well as foods like algae, moss, lichen, fungi or debris. With their strong sense of smell, they can easily locate a food source even when it leads up the wall.

Another reason snails climb walls is to escape predators and avoid being smashed. It’s harder to step on them when they are on the wall and not the ground.

How Fast Do Snails Crawl?

Snails also do not have legs, so they cannot walk or run like some other animals. So at what speed do snails move? How fast do they crawl? Snails move at a speed of 0.048 kilometers per hour. That is about 0.8 meters per minute.

It’s no news that snails are slow-moving creatures. But why do they move slowly? Besides lacking legs, they carry a shell which makes up 30% of their body weight. Imagine moving around with a heavy load on your back. Surely, you’ll move slower than usual. 

The weight of a snail’s shell slows it down. This is one advantage slugs have over snails when it comes to locomotion; because slugs don’t have shells, there’s no extra weight pulling them back. But this can also be a disadvantage for them as the shell helps to protect the body.

In addition, snails have to secret mucus before they move. The slime helps to protect their muscular foot and acts as a lubricant, reducing the friction between their muscular foot and the ground enabling them to crawl easily.

Can Snails Crawl Against Water?

Water snails do crawl on water. They do this by establishing a balance between surface tension and viscous drag. Water has enough surface tension which make crawling on it possible. Snails maintain buoyancy on water by trapping some air inside their shells.

You might wonder what surface tension and viscosity is. Surface tension is the ability of water surface to acts as though it’s covered by an elastic sheet. This is one of the reasons snails can crawl on water. Viscosity on the other hand, is the measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow.

Why do snails crawl out of water in Florida?

Crawling out of water is absolutely normal for snails. They absorb oxygen via their skin which could either be in water or outside of water. They just need to be close to a water source to keep moist so they can keep producing slime for proper locomotion.

Also, snails tend to stay away from deep water bodies. So, if the water is deep, you might see them migrating to a shallow part. The conditions of the water also matter as snails won’t stay in a water body with high salinity except it’s a saltwater snail.

Do snails crawl out of fish tanks?

When you introduce a snail into your fish tank or aquarium, it is normal for them to try to crawl out of or escape from the fish tank. If the tank is not properly maintained, they will try to escape. 

If they have aggressive mates in the tank, unfavorable water parameters, inadequate food, inappropriate substrate and if the tank is overcrowded, they will definitely try to escape.

So, if you want a snails to remain in a tank, ensure that the tank is in good condition.

Why Do Snails Crawl On Each Other?

When you see a snail on top of another snail, they are probably mating. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. Once they are through, the snail on top will crawl back down. 

Snails can also crawl on top each other in search of food. One snail can eat dead plant matter and algae off the shell of another snail. Basically, snails can eat food off any surface.

Snails can also climb on top each other when fighting. You can do the weaker one a favor by separating them!

snails crawling with slimy mucus

Is Snail Slime Poisonous?

Snail slime is not poisonous although snails can be disease vectors. So, ingesting their slime is not advisable as it could contain a small number of parasites.

On the other hand, there’s no proof that slime is poisonous to the skin. As a matter of fact, certain people  use it for skin care. Based on research, snail slime can help to repair damaged skin tissues, treat stretch marks, prevent aging, treat dry skin, restore hydration, stimulate the formation of collagen, soothes the skin and fade acne and dark spots.

So while its not advisable to ingest the slime, it has been proven to be very good for the skin.

Other Related Questions

Where do snails crawl?

Snails can crawl anywhere in search of food or to get away from predators. From walls, to rocks, to the edges of sharp objects and even over other snails. Some snails crawl on water. Examples are freshwater snails and seawater snails. They can reside under rocks, trees and even under leaves. Some species of snails live in aquatic environments.

What is left behind when a snail crawls?

When snails crawl, a gland at the front end of their muscular foot called suprapedal gland produces a slime-like mucus which they glide on. So when a snail crawls, you will notice that it leaves behind a trail of slime (mucus). The slime can act as a lubricant, helping the snail to move forward or as a glue, helping the snail to stick to surfaces. It also helps prevent their exposed soft tissues from desiccating. 

Can snails crawl on sand?

Sure, snails can crawl on sand. However, it’s not safe for them to crawl over gritty objects like sharp sand or crushed egg shells as it could cut their body, causing injury. As a result, these gritty substances make for an effective snail repellent. Another thing snails avoid is copper wire. Copper wire can react with the mucus of snails to produce a little electric shock.

Can snails crawl on crushed lava rock?

Snails usually avoid crawling over dusty, dry or scratchy surfaces such as crushed lava rock. This is because the snail will need to secrete more mucus to be able crawl over such surface, which leads to exhaustion and could cause death. In addition, the composition of lava rocks, which include volcanic glass, volcanic gases and crystals, are unsafe for snails, so they would rather avoid them. 

Can snails crawl out of pebbles?

Pebbles are like small rocks, there’s no way snails can live in them so how can they crawl out of them? Snails don’t crawl out of pebbles.

Conclusion: Do Snails Crawl?

Yes, snails crawl and they do so using their muscular foot and by producing mucus in their path to reduce friction. They can crawl over sharp objects like razor blades without getting hurt.

They also crawl up walls to get away from predators and to avoid getting smashed. On average, they crawl at a speed of 0.048 kilometers per hour. The slime left by snails is often used in skin care to prevent wrinkles, treat stretch marks, help fade dark spots and so on.

 

REFERENCES

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snail

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_snail

https://www.backyardpests.com/why-do-snails-climb-up-my-house/

https://petfishonline.com/mystery-snails-fighting-or-mating/

https://jaljeev.com/do-aquarium-snails-escape/