Can Snails Change Shells? – Pinpoint Facts About Snail
Last Updated on May 24, 2021 by Ephraim Iyodo
Snails have a long, moist and, of course, mucous-like body. They are gastropod mollusks; “gastro” means stomach and “pod” means leg.
The snail’s mouth is located at one end of its “leg” (the snail’s body). Mucus is produced by a special gland at the front of the snail’s leg.
Snails are amazing creatures. Next time you see a snail, take a moment to observe how it slowly moves along its slimy trail.
Land snails enclose the entrance to their shell with a dry mucous secretion called an epiphragm, but some do so with a structure called the operculum in aquatic snails.
Facts About Snail’s Shell
Snails are rigidly attached to their shells. Snails have an organ called a mantle – something that sort of goes around the opening of their shell, and this organ produces the calcium that makes up the shell. In fact, the shell grows out of this organ.
So, “Snails don’t change their shell when they grow up”. Instead, the shell grows with them.
Another reason why snails can’t change their shell is because of what’s inside the shell.
Snails are not slug-like in shape, they actually have a sack of organs on their backs i.e a slimy backpack full of guts, and this vital structure depends on the shell for protection.
And even if the snail were not attached to the shell by the mantle and could technically leave the shell, it is doubtful that it would be able to return to it in such a way as to put the organ sac back in its place.
So no, snails can’t change shells. If a snail loses its shell, which unfortunately can happen as a result of physical trauma as well as certain parasites and diseases, it will die.
Few people have tried to save snails by trying to put the shell back on and by regularly spraying the snail with water to keep it from drying out, but it is impossible to save such a snail. When a snail loses its shell, the only thing you can do is to kill it quickly and painfully to put it out of further pain.
Having said that, if you are about to pick up a snail and it is firmly stuck to something, never, ever try to tear it off the surface by its shell.
This can be very painful at best, and at worst can cause permanent damage to the mantle, resulting in the loss of the shell.
Always kind of run your finger or, better yet, a smooth wet object, such as a wet spoon, under the snail’s head and keep doing this until it has broken away from the surface enough that you can grab it without problems.
In short, snails cannot change their shells, just as a human cannot change it’s backbone.
A shell is like a snail’s backbone, Note That!