The gastropods include snails, slugs, conchs, periwinkles and sea slugs.
Habitat: They are found in both salt (marine) and freshwater habitats and on land.
Diet: Some gastropods are herbivores using the radula to scrape off food particles. Others are carnivores and use the radula to penetrate the shells of their prey.
They have a large, muscular foot on which they move slowly along any surface and the visceral mass sits atop the foot. Many gastropods have shells, though not all. Both the slug and the sea slug (nudibranch) lack a shell. Snails and slugs breathe through respiratory pores, the oxygen being absorbed directly into the abundant tiny blood vessels of the mantle. In the more aquatic gastropods, there are gills instead. Snails have an odd development, the young going through a torsion that results in the anus emptying waste out at the back of the head. They have a spiral shell and a tough plate, called an operculum, that can seal them inside in case of danger. They have a rough, tongue-like structure, called a radula, with which they scrape away at food. They also have two pairs of tentacles, only one bearing eyes at the end.
Found throughout the world in temperate climates, they live in the moist vegetation of gardens, woods and yards.
Once a year, males find a female for mating. Females lay their eggs in a mucus bundle in tide pools. The larvae hatch and are washed out to sea to grow.
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Amsel, Sheri. "Class - Gastropoda (Snails, Slugs, Conchs, Periwinkles and Sea Slugs)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. December 5, 2023
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