Are Snails Born With Shells? Amazing Snails Body Facts Revealed! | Kidadl

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Are Snails Born With Shells? Amazing Snails Body Facts Revealed!

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Snails are a type of mollusk which have hard shells in order to protect them from extreme weather and predators.

They have soft, squishy bodies, akin to those of slugs, and leave a trail of mucous as they move. However, despite their similarities, snails are not simply slugs with shells.

If you ever observe a garden snail, you will notice that their shells have a spiral pattern, with distinct whorls. These whorls represent the growth of the shell over the years, which happens as the snail grows itself. This shell is not merely for show and holds most of the snail's internal organs. It also provides shelter for snails to retreat into, keeping them safe in case of weather changes and predators.

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Are snails just slugs with shells?

Snails and slugs are remarkably similar and the only differences between them are their habitats, and whether they possess shells or not. Though many people think that slugs are just snails without their shells, that is not the case as they are completely different species. Though they both belong to the same class, there are a number of different genera and species of both into which they are divided.

Snails and slugs are both slimy mollusks that both belong to the class 'Gastropoda', meaning 'stomach foot'. This name comes from the fact that these creatures have long bodies with no segmentation which they drag along the ground, eating as they go. Both slugs and shell-less snails look very similar and secrete mucous as they move, leaving behind slimy trails. They are also found in both aquatic as well as terrestrial habitats.

The most obvious difference between the two is the presence of a shell on the snail's back which is its home. Contrary to popular belief, land snails cannot leave their shells as they are attached to them. They can retreat inside their shells and come out as they please, however they can never completely leave their shells because they are a part of them and grow as they do. In case a snail's shell is cracked or crushed, it is unable to repair it because it can only repair minor cracks to its shell using proteins and calcium secreted by its mantle. Without its protective shell, the snail can sustain injuries to its soft, squishy body and unfortunately die. Snails shells also contain a lot of their internal organs, similar to how our skull contains our brain. Any damage to the shell will most certainly cause damage to these organs. It is recommended never to try and force a snail out of its shell, as it can cause major trauma or death.

The opposite is with slugs because they can survive easily without protective coverings of any sort. Unlike snails, slugs' internal organs are all encased inside their bodies, with no need for a shell to protect them. Another huge difference is where you can find the two animals. As snails are constricted to their shells, they cannot squeeze into hard-to-reach places, and remain out in the open and are easy to spot, usually found on land or on tree trunks. You can also spot them quite easily in your garden! Slugs on the other hand can twist or flatten their bodies to fit through small gaps and into tiny spaces, which is why you will see a lot of slugs either under tree bark, stones, and in small crevices where snails would be unable to go because of their shells. This is how slugs are able to keep themselves hidden from predators and safe in case of weather phenomena like extreme heat or rain.

Do baby snails come out with shells?

Yes, baby land snails are born with their shells, though these shells do not look like the shells of mature snails. The shell of a baby snail is called a protoconch, and it is soft and transparent in nature. This shell is very fragile and newborn snails need to consume a lot of calcium after they hatch in order to get their shells to harden and promote healthy growth. They often do this by consuming the outer layer of the eggs they hatch from, which are rich in calcium.

As land snails grow, their shells grow along with them, conforming to the width of their bodies. Their organs grow inside the shell which grows in size, with the number of spiral whorls increasing along with its age. An interesting fact about land snails is that most of them are hermaphrodites, and contain both male and female reproductive organs. Though these animals are hermaphrodites, two snails still need to mate in order to fertilize their eggs, rather than being able to self-fertilize.

Snail on the tree in the garden.

Do snails die when their shells break?

Depending on the severity of the crack on a snail's shell, it may die. The shell of a snail is not detachable, and in fact, contains a bunch of its nerves and organs. Tampering with a land snail's shell may cause cracks, which if minor enough can be repaired by the snail using proteins and calcium secreted by its body.

However, if the shell is significantly cracked, crushed, or destroyed, it can expose the inner organs of these animals which can lead to major injury and pain, leading to death. Large-scale damage on a snail's shell cannot be repaired, and a snail with a cracked shell will most likely be unable to survive. Pets snails do like to be 'pet', but you can rub their shells to make them happy. Avoid touching the opening of the shell as it can be quite sensitive and rub the top of the shell. They like to be pet on their head and neck as well.

How do you get a snail out of its shell?

As snails are attached to their shells, you cannot get them to simply crawl out and leave their shells behind like hermit crabs do.

Snails hatch from their eggs with shells and they grow along with them, with the number of spiral whorls increasing along with age. Any attempt to remove a snail from its shell would kill it because it cannot easily slide out, being attached to the very shell. If a snail suffers significant damage to its shell, it will die by slowly drying out.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Are snails born with shells? Amazing snails body facts revealed! then why not take a look at Are hippos omnivores? Explore why they like to eat both meat and grass, or Are guinea pigs nocturnal? Unrevealing guinea pig's sleeping habits?

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

Tanya always had a knack for writing which encouraged her to be a part of several editorials and publications across print and digital media. During her school life, she was a prominent member of the editorial team at the school newspaper. While studying economics at Fergusson College, Pune, India, she got more opportunities to learn details of content creation. She wrote various blogs, articles, and essays that garnered appreciation from readers. Continuing her passion for writing, she accepted the role of a content creator, where she wrote articles on an array of topics. Tanya’s write-ups reflect her love for traveling, learning about new cultures, and experiencing local traditions.

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