Snail in the Forest

This snail was wandering around in the woods behind our house.  I scared it for a moment and it hid inside its shell.

Once it came back out I took this photo.  Look at the head closely.  See the extra small antenna near the ground?  Well, there is a matching one on the other side of the head to make it a total of 4 antennae.  According to a Cal-Berkley website:

Technically they are tentacles, but “feeler” is a pretty good description of their function because they are touch sensitive. The two longer ones have light-sensitive organs at their tips, making them the snail’s version of eyes, although their function is limited to light perception rather than image generation. The shorter tentacles feel, taste, and smell the environment in the never-ending search for food and water, and in constant vigilance against dangers.

We find empty snail shells around the yard pretty often.  I’ve always figured they were old shells from snails that had died.  According to the same website above:

Snails are a moist gang, and if a snail cannot find a watering hole to renew its water supply, it will retreat to a protected nook, withdraw into its shell, and seal its shell to a solid surface. The snail will lapse into dormancy until rain, dew, or a garden sprinkler once again moistens the environment. This passive state, rather like hibernation but initiated by dry rather than cold, is called estivation.

So, next time I’ll check it out a little closer to see if there is a snail hiding inside waiting for the rain.

  1. Wow — I haven’t seen a snail in years! Obviously they exist, but I have not encountered a snail or a shell (discarded or occupied)…

    The healing and protective mechanisms of insects, animals, and humans have always amazed me. Great information about estivation — I think anyone who reads this post will look a little more closely when they encounter a snail shell in the future.

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