Apparently if you are a snail and are in a romantic mood all you need is a large green leaf, some shade, and a mate, of course. I found these pair of Garden Snails (Cornu aspersum) enjoying a romantic moment or two this morning at around 8:00, yet they were still at it over two hours later!
Looks like I am going to have baby snails in a couple of weeks time.
I am always fascinated by the intricacies of shells, and how they have evolved to be so. I can’t help but gaze at the top image in wonderment, marvelling at the beauty and bio-engineering involved in its evolution over hundreds of millions of years. All this to protect and shelter the animal inside which had once been feasting on my garden plants.
Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum) rear garden, Staffordshire, England. August 2017.
After a fair bit of rain I can expect to find these snails out and about in the daytime, where usually they feed under the safe cover of darkness.
They can be a pest, especially to my bedding plants and the few vegetables I grow, and my Hosta which looks like it has been riddled with bullets. Yet I still find a fascination with these creatures, and how very well evolved they are for surviving on the land, as opposed to their seafaring cousins.
By the Mesozoic Era, some 248 million years ago, some of these gastropods had adapted in such a way they left the marine environment to live in freshwater and terrestrial habitats. And here they are now, munching through my garden after the June rain has fallen.
You only have to pop out into your garden on a rainy day, or venture out during the night hours to find one of these slippery creatures going for your plants. This morning I happened to move my bird bath and there he was, hunkered down and sheltered for the day. However I awoke him, and as grumpy as he was (he blew bubbles at me), he obliged me a photo shoot between rain showers.
The shell of this snail can be marbled brown, black or yellow-ochre, and has fine wrinkles. Shell diameter 40mm.
Individuals contain both reproductive organs and are capable of self-fertilisation, although cross-fertilisation is the normal way.
They live in quite varied habitats, from woodland and hedgerows, to gardens and allotments, where they can be serious pests. Mainly feeding nocturnally, or after rain, they consume various plants, and can do a lot of damage. Common and widespread throughout lowland Britain, absent from most of Scotland.
Photographs taken July 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.