Slugs & Snails

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The protoconch, or first shell that a snail is born with, grows with the snail as the animal's mantle -- an organ that lines the shell -- releases new shell material that expands the shell before hardening. This shell the snail was born with becomes the center of the spiral.

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  • Is a snail a mammal or a reptile?

    Q: Is a snail a mammal or a reptile?

    A: Snails are neither mammals nor reptiles. They belong to the phylum Mollusca and are classified as gastropods. Gastropods are characterized as having a single shell that is capable of hiding them completely.
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  • How do snail shells grow?

    Q: How do snail shells grow?

    A: The protoconch, or first shell that a snail is born with, grows with the snail as the animal's mantle -- an organ that lines the shell -- releases new shell material that expands the shell before hardening. This shell the snail was born with becomes the center of the spiral.
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  • What is the largest snail in the world?

    Q: What is the largest snail in the world?

    A: The African giant snail is generally considered to be the world's largest land snail; it can reach a length of 20 centimeters, or about 8 inches. The largest marine snail species is the Australian trumpet, which can reach a length of 91 centimeters, which is over 36 inches.
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  • Where do snails come from?

    Q: Where do snails come from?

    A: Fossil evidence dating back 550 million years identifies snail-like mollusks inhabiting the sea floor. Several million years later, snails adapted to land, breathing with lungs rather than gills. Snails now live in wide-ranging habitats from deserts to tropical climates, at sea level and in mountainous regions.
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  • How are snails born?

    Q: How are snails born?

    A: Snails are born out of white/yellow eggs from their mother or father, as snails are hermaphrodites, and hatch approximately 2 or 4 weeks after being laid. For the baby snails to hatch, the weather has to be the perfect mix of warm and damp weather.
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  • What is a slug's habitat?

    Q: What is a slug's habitat?

    A: According to the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University, slugs prefer to live in damp, cool conditions. Slugs are found around the world and are hardy enough to live in most climates as long as they have moisture.
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  • How do snails breathe?

    Q: How do snails breathe?

    A: Snails can be divided into two categories when discussing manners of breathing: those with lungs and those with gills. Pulmonate (lung) snails assimilate oxygen through the thin wall ("lung") of their mantel cavity. Other snails breathe using gills.
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  • What is the difference between a snail vs. a slug?

    Q: What is the difference between a snail vs. a slug?

    A: The most-noticeable difference between a snail and a slug is the slug's lack of a shell. On a snail, the shell houses and protects the visceral hump, where the snail's organs are located. A slug, on the other hand, may have an internal "shell," which is more like a calcium deposit, that helps protect the internal organs.
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  • What do sea snails eat?

    Q: What do sea snails eat?

    A: Sea snails are generally omnivorous. They eat algae and sometimes feed on smaller snails as well. Some species, such as the cone snail, are predatory sea snails. Smaller cone snails tend to eat marine works, while larger ones can prey on live fish.
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  • Q: How do water snails breathe?

    A: Ocean snails breathe using gills while freshwater snails breathe using lungs. Ocean snails can have one or two gills, and the gills allow the snails to remain completely submerged all the time. Freshwater snails have something that resembles a lung but is actually a pulmonary cavity, and these snails may surface for air or, depending on the type of snail, remain submerged all of the time.
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  • Q: Where can you find snails?

    A: Snails live in many different habitats and can be found in deserts, water environments, ditches, forests and marshes. Even when they live in hot environments, snails try to find shady areas. They are out more frequently when it is cloudy or at nighttime.
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  • Q: What is an elephant snail?

    A: The elephant snail is a species of large sea snail and a mollusk in the family Fissurellidae. Its name is derived from its tendency to swing its tentacles from side to side as it moves about.
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  • Q: Do snails have teeth?

    A: Snails do not have teeth like humans or mammals. Instead, like most mollusks, snails have radulas, which look like tongues in the snail's mouth. The radulas have tiny teeth on them, used for gripping and grinding food. A radula's appearance is often used by scientists to identify and classify snails.
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  • Q: Do snails have legs?

    A: Snails do not have legs, but instead have one very large and very flat foot. Snails secrete a layer of mucus that they use to help them glide about.
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  • Q: How long do giant African snails live?

    A: The average giant African snail lives from 3 to 5 years, though some are known to survive as long as 9 years. Predators posing the biggest threat include the coconut crab, hermit crab, domesticated and wild birds, and wild pigs.
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  • Q: What are the adaptations of limpets?

    A: Limpets are classified as mollusks: like others in their family, they have strong, sturdy shells and produce slime to help them survive in their aquatic habitats. Limpets’ shells are quite attractive and have a unique cup-like shape that allows them to blend in with rocks along the coastal regions where they live. They also excrete special slime that helps them move over dry rock surfaces and helps with navigation too.
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  • Q: How many teeth does a snail have?

    A: The number of teeth a snail has depends on the type of snail, but the average snail has well over 1,000 teeth. The teeth of snails are contained in rows called a radula. These rows shift and allow missing teeth to be replaced.
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  • Q: What is the lifespan of giant African land snails?

    A: The giant African land snail, also called the giant East African snail, usually lives for three to five years. However, some have been observed to have lived as long as nine years. These snails require a humid, tropical climate and a diet high in calcium to thrive.
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  • Q: What is the life cycle of a snail?

    A: The life cycle of a snail starts with the young hatching, then progresses to the adolescent snail feeding and resting until it reach the age of reproduction, at which time the snail mates and lays eggs. Eggs are deposited in a nest below the soil.
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  • Q: How far can a snail travel in one minute?

    A: A snail can travel up to approximately 0.66 inches per minute. This speed was determined in a study published in 2012 by the University of Exeter in England.
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  • Q: Is a snail a reptile?

    A: A snail classifies as a gastropoda, which is a member of the mollusk family. Mollusks are defined by having no backbone, soft bodies and hard shells to protect the body. Both water and land snails are in the mollusk family.
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