There are many species of Molluscs, one class is Gastropods, they have coiled shell that is large enough for the animal to retract to completely and comfortably. The scientific name of garden snails is Helix aspera. The mantle covers the internal organs, the heart, liver, lungs and stomach are located inside the shell and on top of the foot. The life span can be 5 to 10 years.
The mucus or slime protects the body from dehydration. The slime tracks stay moist for 15 to 20 seconds and are visible for several hours. Snails do share slime trails. The rhythm of their movement repeats over and over making a snail’s pace.
Snails are hermaphrodites. Each snail has both male and female sex organs. During courtship one or more love darts are fired into the body of the partner. When snails mate, they each lay eggs and produce between 50 and 80 baby snails. Garden snails bury their white to yellowish color eggs 2 to 3 inches down in the topsoil during warm weather. Snail shell coiling is normally to the right or clockwise and rarely there is a left-coiled shell. When this occurs they must find a mate that is left-coiled. Snails never change shells. Their shell or house grows along with them. The main building material is calcium carbonate.
Night air keeps the skin moist and the blood vessels take in oxygen. A respiratory hole on the right side of the shell allows air passage. If the shell becomes damaged the snail can usually do self-repair.
Snail self-preservation requires a warning of a predator nearby. The snail will climb a plant stalk or find an inaccessible place from the predator. Being nocturnal provides some protection. The foamy mucus treatment is a defense against ants. Hibernation for severe winter or summer conditions of dryness, temperatures and diet is practiced. Decaying plants, damp paper, cardboard and cement are eaten when necessary. Dry times of drought sends the snail into its shell, all openings are plugged and slathered with mucus. When the drought is over the hardened mucus softens and the snail wiggles out.
Some snails are eaten as escargot, other are used in cosmetics, made into jewelry and kept as pets. The medical field is looking at snails for a cure for Alzheimer’s. In the United Kingdom and France the racing snail is usually the garden snail variety. Each snail has a racing number taped or painted in bright acrylic on its shell. Racing snails may live longer; thrushes do not like bright paint on their lunches. The racetrack is circular, about the size of a bike tire, with the radius of 13 inches. A race starts from the center circle’s edge with “Ready, steady, go.” The snails move (hopefully) to the outer circle to be the winner. Many snail trainers are children. The July 2017 winner in Congham, Norfolk, UK made the 13 inches in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.