Whether you find snails slimy or fascinating, these snail facts for kids will help you learn more about the slow-moving critters. Are snails related to slugs? What do they eat? What eats them? (Hint: you might someday!) Here are the answers to all of the questions you never even knew you had about snails.
Snail Facts for Kids
Do you sit at home wondering about snails? Perhaps you would like to have one as a pet, read an interesting snail description, or maybe you would just like to freak out your sister with a slimy snail. Read all of these snail facts for kids so you can impress your friends with your knowledge of gastropods.
Description of a Snail
Snails come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. The following are basic characteristics of a snail:
- It has a soft, unsegmented body that is long, moist and slimy. The body is normally protected by a hard shell.
- The snail's body has a head, a neck, a visceral hump, a tail, and a foot.
- The head has a pair of tentacles or feelers. The larger set is located at the top of the head and contains the snail's eyes. The smaller set is located at the lower area of the head and the snail uses them to smell and feel.
- The snail's mouth is in the middle of its head and below the lower set of tentacles.
- The visceral hump that contains most of the snail's vital organs is actually located inside the snail's shell.
- The snails themselves are typically beige to gray.
- The shells can vary in color from white to brown or black. They can also be speckled or striped in appearance.
- The shells can be rounded, flat, pointed or spiral.
- If the snail is disturbed, it can withdraw completely into its shell.
As a part of the natural world, you can learn a lot of fun facts about snails by discovering some of their biology.
- Snails and slugs belong to a group of mollusks known as gastropods. Next time you see a snail, you can make your friends think you are smart by saying, "Wow! Look at that amazing gastropod!"
- Snails are also mollusks, which are a group of animals that have a hard shell. Other mollusks include clams, oysters and the octopus.
- Scientists have found snail fossils from millions of years ago. In fact, they are one of the oldest-known animal species in the world. By most estimates, snails have been around for more than 600 million years!
- While slugs and snails are both gastropods, they are not the same animal. Some people believe that slugs are just shell-less snails, but this is not true.
- Snails cannot hear. To find food, they use their sense of smell.
- Snails leave slime behind them as they travel. The slime protects them as they move.
- There is no way to tell whether a snail is a male or a female because they are both! Snails are hermaphrodites, which means they can lay eggs (female) and fertilize them too (male).
- Are snails nocturnal? Yes, you might be surprised to know that snails are largely nocturnal. They are most likely to come out at night or very early in the morning.
- Snails can live for 15 to 20 years, but that is probably good since it may take them that long to cross the yard.
- Do snails have a backbone? No. Snails are invertebrates, meaning that they don't have a backbone. Instead, they have their shell for protection.
- Snails are triploblastic protostomes. Their bodies are made up of three main parts: a foot, a head, and a body.
Habitat and Food
Where do snails live, what do they eat, and what eats snails? Discover more with these interesting facts about snail habitats and diet.
- Snails can live pretty much anywhere although they are not fond of heat. When the weather is hot, snails burrow under the ground and wait until it is cool.
- There are both land snails and water snails.
- Snails prefer damp, dark environments.
- Snails eat plants, algae, chalk, limestone, and, sometimes, each other.
- Snails eat by gliding across a food surface. They have what is known as a radula in their mouths, which grinds up their food. A radula is like a tiny tongue with a bunch of sharp teeth coating it.
- Birds, frogs, and other small animals eat snails. Some people also like to eat snails as well. Snails are a popular French delicacy known as escargot (pronounced ess-kar-GO). Don't eat raw snails though because they can make you sick. If you plan to eat a snail, have someone follow a recipe and cook it correctly.
Interesting Facts About Snails
Snail information doesn't have to be boring! Snails are interesting creatures, and these facts about snails for kids prove it. Here are a few more facts:
- Snails hibernate in the winter.
- Snails can be found everywhere on Earth.
- The snail's shell stays with it for life.
- There are more snails on Earth than insects.
- The Romans raised snails for food.
- There are approximately 43,000 different snail species that live in the sea, in freshwater or on land.
- Land snails and garden snails (the best-known species in the world) have only one lung.
- Sea snails (who live in saltwater) and freshwater snails typically use gills to breathe. Some freshwater snails have both gills and a lung.
- Garden snails have over 14,000 teeth that are all located on their tongue (radula).
- The smallest land snail can fit through the eye of a needle.
- The largest living sea snail is the Syrinx aruanus who's shell can grow to 35 inches in length and the snail can weigh up to 40 pounds.
- A snail will not get cut if it moves over a sharp razor blade because of its protective slimy mucus.
- Some snails have hairy shells.
- Most species of snails lay their eggs underground while a few do give birth to live young.
- Even if snails live in water, they can not swim. Snails can only crawl and the distance they travel ranges from 33 feet per hour to 157 feet per hour. This explains why the snail is one of the slowest creatures on earth.
- The giant African land snail can grow up to 15 inches long, weigh 2 pounds. It can often be found in Florida and is considered an invasive pest because it can cause much damage to plants and homes. It is also illegal to own as a pet.
Fun Facts About Snails
With all of these fascinating snail facts, what will you do with your newfound knowledge? If you are out in the garden and you see a snail, take a closer look to see if you can learn even more about this amazing animal by observing it in action.