We Love The Rain

Garden Snail Cornu aspersum
Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

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.

White-lipped Snail Cepaea hortensis
White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis)

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.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

About Slugs And Snails

Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)
Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

People maybe surprised to know that molluscs consist of the second largest group of animals on earth after the insects, with some 100,000 species plus. Of this group the gastropods are the largest of the mollusc group, with more than 50,000 species globally. They  have been around for at least 500 million years. Their habitats can be marine, freshwater, estuarine, or terrestrial. Included in this class are the shell covered snails. limpets, sea hares, and the shell-less slugs.

Slug Eggs
Slug Eggs

The body of the snail consists of a large muscular foot, a visceral hump which is contained within an asymmetrically coiled shell (a univalve) a head with eyes and tentacles, and a mouth that contains a rasping tongue used to remove, crush and grind food. Most species of snail are herbivores, whilst others feed on live prey or carrion. They are mainly active at night so their bodies do not dry out in the sun, and during the day they hide in dark, damp places. Those with shells which not only give them some protection against predation, but also protection from desiccation, hide within them and seal themselves against rocks, stones, or vegetation.


Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus)
Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus)

Order: Stylommatophora (Air-breathing Terrestrial Slugs & Snails)
This taxon, now considered to be a clade, is a very large group of pulmonate (air-breathing) land snails and slugs. They are characterised by having two pairs of retractile tentacles with eyes located on the tips of the larger tentacles.


Wandering Pond Snail (Radix peregra)
Wandering Pond Snail (Radix peregra)

Order: Basommatophora (Freshwater Snails)
In this order are the air-breathing land snails which are found in ponds, ditches, streams, rivers and shallow lakes. They are characterised by having their eyes located at the base of their non-retractile tentacles, rather than at the tips, as in the true land snails in the order Stylommatophora. The majority of basommatophorans have shells that are thin, translucent, and which are fairly colourless.


Purple Topshell (Gibbula umbilcalis)
Purple Topshell (Gibbula umbilcalis)

Order: Neogastropoda (Whelks, Cones & Tritons)
These gastropods are mainly deposit feeders or predators. They all have a well-developed siphon for detecting prey. The larger bottom-dwelling carnivores commonly feed on bivalve molluscs, other gastropods, sea urchins, polychaete  worms, and even fish. They will often burrow into the sand to reach their prey.


Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus)
Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus)

Order: Neotaenioglossa (New Gastropods)
This order of mollusc is believed to have evolved around 70 million years ago during    the last days of the dinosaurs. They are characterised by the possession of only one gill, one auricle, one kidney and by siphon. This order is generally considered to be the most advanced of the prosobranch molluscs, which include the familiar whelks.

Flat Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata)
Flat Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata)