Snail Life Cycle

Snails are cold-blooded invertebrates and come with an enclosed shell that serves as a means of protection and hydration. Also, snails are believed to be among the oldest living organisms on Earth. They are often confused with a similar-looking animal called slugs but are entirely different. 

Read on to find more about the snail life cycle and their other features!

Before we find out about a snail cycle, let us check out its classification -

Classification of Snail

Basic Details of Snails

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Gastropoda

Family

Helicidae

Order

Stylommatophora

Phylum

Mollusca

Genus

Helix


The Life Cycle of a Snail

These following highlight the snail cycle in brief.

  • The egg

Since most snails are hermaphrodites, they have reproductive organs of both male and female. The female parts produce eggs, while the male parts produce sperm.

On the other hand, snails which are not hermaphrodites reproduce sexually. The eggs are produced by one snail and fertilized by another, and post-fertilization the eggs are laid. 

The number of eggs often range between 5 and 45 at a time, and they are usually enclosed in a jelly-like sac. Typically, the season to lay eggs ranges between autumn and early spring. 

  • Hatchling

Hatching emerges from the eggs two weeks after they are laid. Usually, the young snails eat their eggshells, and often they eat other snail eggs too. 

The winter and spring season is the growing phase for snails. This particular phase is significant for their growth and development of their enclosed shell. 

  • Adolescent snail

Adolescent snails are mostly dormant during the summer, and they strive to retain water during this season until they mature. However, they may show some activity if it rains during this time. Also, they do not mate in this season.

  • Mature Snail 

A snail is said to reach its sexual maturity with the onset of autumn and especially by the time they are 1 year old. Notably, rainfall triggers activity in snails. 

Also, with the onset of autumnal rain, the mating season for snails commences. Mostly, mating snails are found in pairs and the process of producing eggs starts shortly after it, and the snail cycle begins again. 

Do It Yourself: Find out what happens when a snail’s shell breaks. 

Food and Habitat

Snails are categorized as omnivores, and as soon as they are hatched, they begin their search of food. Typically, snail hatchlings eat their eggshells and are known to eat small plants and rock minerals. 

With the help of radula, which are thousands of tiny teeth, snails can grind rocks and absorb their minerals. They also eat microscopic organisms and can survive for a week without food. 

Though snails can live in both land and water, they cannot dwell on land for a long time as it can dry them up. They are extensively found in forests, mountains, deserts and oceans. 

Freshwater snails find their home in areas with a lot of decaying plants and animals. They are widely found on water plants, muddy areas, and algae-covered concrete.

Typically, the lifespan of a freshwater snail depends on its species and surroundings. For example, in the open, they live for 2 or 3 years and often get killed by predators like snakes, lizards, birds, etc. On the other hand, in captivity, they may live as long as 15 years. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How long do snails live?

Snail’s life expectancy depends on their species and habitat. Typically, in the open, they may live up to 2-3 years before being devoured by predators. Alternatively, in captivity, they may live up to 15 years.

2. How are snails born?

Post fertilization mature snails lay eggs which may range between 5 and 45 in number. Typically, it takes 2 weeks for snails to hatch from their eggs.

3. What is the difference between a snail and a slug?

Even though snails and slugs are gastropods, they are different from one another. Snails have a shell on their external surface which is absent in slugs. Also, snails are relatively slow in a movement when compared to slugs.