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6 Different Types of Snails (Plus Interesting Facts)

Closeup shot of a snail on the grass.

Snails are mollusks that belong to the Gastropoda class. They have about 43,000 species categorized into land snails, sea snails, and freshwater snails. Depending on their habitat and species, snails can survive about one to three years or even up to 25 years.

Most snails are hermaphrodites, which means they can be both a female and a male. While some hermaphrodite snails may still need another snail to reproduce, some can do it on their own through asexual reproduction.

The first snail lived about 550 million years ago on the seafloor and evolved into land snails about 286 million years ago when they moved to land and developed lungs for breathing.


Apple Snail

Three apple snails on a heart-shaped leaf against wooden background.

When it comes to freshwater aquariums, this is one of the most popular types of snails to purchase. It comes in a wide variety of colors, including gold, blue, and even tiger. It is recommended that you have a large tank if you want to keep this type of snail because it can grow up to six inches in length. They also have a tendency to eat the plants in your aquarium, so it is recommended that you not have a lot of plants kept there.

Garden Snail

A garden snail sitting on a cabbage.

Also known as Helix aspersa, the garden snail is very well known and has also been called the European Brown Garden snail. It is a common snail in Europe and other parts of the world, and it causes a lot of damage to numerous plants and crops.

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It is normally no more than 1.3 inches in length, and it has a soft body, yellow- or cream-colored shells with brown spiral stripes, and is covered with mucus. The shell on the garden snail is used when the snail is not eating or when it feels it is in danger, although it still protects the snail even when the snail isn’t inside of it.

Garden snails eat plants, which is why they are so dangerous when they’re found on farms. They find their food in places such as trees, the barks of trees, cereals, and even flowers.

Giant African Land Snail

Giant African land snail on a human hand.

Getting up to almost eight inches in length, the Giant African Land snail is one of the world’s largest terrestrial gastropods. Their shells are light to dark brown in color and usually have dark brown vertical stripes on them.

They live, on average, from five to seven years, but many of them have been known to live up to 10 years. It is an invasive species and causes much damage to crops and agriculture.

In fact, these snails can eat up to 500 different species of plants, so they are voracious eaters. Although they are quite destructive, they do not give up very easily. They have even adapted to living in areas outside of their natural habitats, making them an even bigger threat than ever before.

Mediterranean Green Snail

Mediterranean green snail on a plant stem.

These snails can get up to nearly five inches in length, and they have only been around since the 1980s. It was established in Western Australia, and it eats a wide range of plants, including cereal crops, pasture grasses, and leafy vegetables. In Northern Africa, it is found mostly in rainforests.

Orchid Snail

Orchid snail eating a leaf.

These are a very small species of snails, and they get their name because of their preference for destruction in greenhouses and in orchards. It has a shell that is a reddish-brown color, but the animal itself is a bluish color.

They are also very small, usually only one-third of an inch in length. Even if you have pots with various plants in them, you have to watch out for these snails, because they can easily get inside and underneath the pot.

Roman Snail

Roman snail crawling up a tree.

The Roman snail used to be found only in Europe, but it is now found all over the world. It has a beautiful shell that accounts for roughly one-third of its weight, and it is also called the burgundy snail or the edible snail.

This is the type of snail used for the French dish escargot, and it is usually from one to two inches in length. It is a land snail that breathes air and whose shell is creamy to light brown with darker brown bands.

Another thing that makes these snails different is the fact that they have two pairs of tentacles on their head. The tentacles on the top contain the snail’s eyes, while the ones on the bottom have smell sensors in them.

In addition, because they are so adaptable, they can now be found in many different types of habitats, including vineyards, bushes, and hedges.

Interesting Facts about Snails

Also Called Slugs

Slugs and snails are the same things, but some slugs have internal shells instead of shells found outside of their body. This is a result of evolution, and it helps the snail move around quicker.

They’re Everywhere, They’re Everywhere!

Roman snails on land.

Snails can be found nearly everywhere on the planet because there are over 150,000 species of gastropods. They can live in the water, in the desert, and in numerous other habitats.

They’ve Helped Things Stick

Snails have slime that helps some of them stick to rocks and other items. From this slime, medical experts have developed an adhesive tape and glue used to repair hearts. So far, it has only been tested on the hearts of pigs, but it shows a lot of promise nonetheless.

How They Breathe

Closeup of a Roman snail.

Snails can have either lungs or gills, depending on what they need for survival, and some snails have both of these. Some freshwater snails rely on their lungs to breathe instead of gills, which means they have to swim to the water’s surface to get the air they need to continue.

There is even one type of snail that uses a siphon-looking device that allows them to get air from the surface of the water through something that looks like a small tube.

A Killer of Starfish?

Some giant snails get up to over a foot long, and they have been known to kill a starfish. They do this by paralyzing them first with their saliva, which has venom in it, and also because of their keen sense of smell. Giant snails kill and eat starfish quite frequently.

Some Shells Are Different Than Others

Cuban snails on autumn leaves.

Most snails have shells that are smooth, but there are some snails that have hairy shells. Most of these snails are juveniles and come from humid areas, and experts think it is there to help the snails move around when they are in wet areas.

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