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Snail Inquiry - Read, Observe, Record

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Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry

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Read and React  - The Garden Snail
Snail Classification
You will be observing the common garden snail, Helix aspersa. It is from the Phylum Mollusca. There are more than 50,000 species of mollusk. They are invertebrates and include the octopus, squid, snails, slugs, clams, oysters, and many others. As diverse as this phylum is, all its animals include three physical traits. They have what is referred to as the: visceral mass, mantle and foot. Mollusks are further broken down into Classes. The snail belongs to the  Class Gastropoda. The gastropods include snails, slugs, conchs, periwinkles and sea slugs.

Snail Classification - Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Mollusca > Class: Gastropoda > Order: Stylommatophora > Family: Helicidae > Genus: Helix > Species: aspersa

Physical Traits
 • They have a large, muscular foot on which they move slowly along any surface and the visceral mass sits atop the foot. They secrete a thick mucus that helps them move over surfaces and leaves a trail.
 • 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.
 • The adult has a hard, thin calcareous shell that is 25–40 mm in diameter and 25–35 mm high with four or five whorls. The spiral shell varies in color but is generally dark brown with yellow stripes, flecks, or streaks. The opening has a tough plate, called an operculum, that can seal them inside in case of danger.
 • They also have two pairs of tentacles, the upper two of which have eye-like light sensors, and the lower two are smaller and sensitive to touch and smell. The tentacles can be retracted into the head. The mouth is located beneath the tentacles, and contains a rough tongue-like structure called a radula which the snail uses to scrape and manipulate food particles.
 • The snail’s “brain” is a series of “ganglion” (grouping of nerve cells bosses) that wrap around the snail’s esophagus (throat).

Diet
The garden snail is a herbivore eating (and damaging) many types of plants including fruit trees, vegetable crops, garden flowers, and grasses. It is a food source for many other animals, including small mammals, many bird species, lizards, frogs, centipedes, predatory insects, predatory terrestrial snails and man.

Reproduction
Each snail contains both male and female reproductive parts. This makes them “hermaphrodites.” They still choose to mate with other snails, though they can fertilize themselves. During a mating session of several hours, two snails exchange sperm. The garden snail uses ‘love darts’ during mating. Love darts are sharp, slimy, mucus coated projectiles fired at the snail’s sexual partner. About two weeks after mating approximately 80 spherical pearly-white eggs are laid into crevices in the topsoil. Up to six batches of 80 eggs can be laid in a year. The size of the egg is 4 mm. and young snails take one to two years to reach adulthood.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Science Specialist and Educator, Anne Monk, at
Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley, CA for her great snail activites and consultation on this resource.

Find downloadable versions in the pdf at bottom.

Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry
Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry
Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry
Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry
Snail Activities - Reading and Inquiry

Read and React - 10 Short Answers  - The Garden Snail
Physical Traits
 • They have a large, muscular ________________________ on which they move slowly along any surface and the visceral mass sits atop the foot. They secrete a thick ______________________ that helps them move over surfaces and leaves a trail.
 • Many gastropods have shells, though not all. Both the slug and the sea slug (nudibranch) lack a shell. Snails and slugs breathe through respiratory ______________________, 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 ___________________ emptying waste out at the back of the head.
 • The adult has a hard, thin calcareous shell that is 25–40 mm in diameter and 25–35 mm high with four or five whorls. The spiral shell varies in color but is generally dark brown with yellow stripes, flecks, or streaks. The opening has a tough plate, called an operculum, that can seal them inside in case of danger.
 • They also have two pairs of _____________________________________, the upper two of which have eye-like light sensors, and the lower two are smaller and sensitive to touch and smell. The tentacles can be retracted into the head. The mouth is located beneath the tentacles, and contains a rough tongue-like structure called a radula which the snail uses to scrape and manipulate food particles.
 • The snail’s “_______________________________” is a series of “ganglion” (grouping of nerve cells bosses) that wrap around the snail’s esophagus (throat).


Diet
The garden snail is a ____________________________________________ eating (and damaging) many types of plants including fruit trees, vegetable crops, garden flowers, and grasses. It is a food source for many other animals, including small mammals, many bird species, lizards, frogs, centipedes, predatory insects, predatory terrestrial snails and ______________.
Reproduction
Each snail contains both male and female reproductive parts. This makes them “hermaphrodites.” They still choose to mate with other snails, though they can fertilize themselves. During a mating session of several hours, two snails exchange ________________________. The garden snail uses ‘love darts’ during mating. Love darts are sharp, slimy, mucus coated projectiles fired at the snail’s sexual partner. About two _____________________ after mating approximately 80 spherical pearly-white eggs are laid into crevices in the topsoil. Up to six batches of 80 eggs can be laid in a year. The size of the egg is 4 mm. and young snails take one to two years to reach adulthood.

Read and React - Critical Thinking - The Garden Snail

1) Can you name other animals that are in the Phylum Mollusca?


2) Can you name other animals that are in the Class Gastropoda?

3) What are three traits that this group have in common?

4) What helps snails move over surfaces and leaves a trail?

5) How do snails breathe?

6) What structures in snails help them sense the world around them?

7) How do snails break down food (compared to how we bite and chew)?

8) Name a unique trait of a snail’s reproduction:

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Exploringnature.org has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.