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All about snails - 3
Life cycle of a Land Snail
The life cycle of any animal is the period involving the succession of one generation to the next by means of reproduction.
The reproduction process of the snail is one that has some unique patterns when compared to that of other land animals.
In other ways though the process is the same as what you would expect. In brief, mating, gestation period, egg dropping, egg hatching, maturing period and new snails are the main stages of this cycle.
The age of sexual maturity is variable from 6 weeks to 5 years, depending on species of snail.
Land snails engage in various types of courting rituals to attract mates. They can last mating from a couple of hours to half a day.
They don’t make sounds to call out to each other like many types of animals do because snails don’t have the ability to hear. So they use touching as a way of courting. They may cover each other in mucus that they produce from their bodies before mating.
It is believed this mucus also makes it easier for them to engage in the actual mating process. Once they have done so they will go their separate directions.
What is interesting is that each snail has the reproduction organs of both sexes. Even though, snails need to mate, they do not fertilize themselves. However, after the mating, both snails are able to deliver a set of eggs.
During the mating process both snails will conceive around 100 eggs and some of species up to 400. These eggs are extremely small and they will be deposited into the moist soil and covered. It can take up to four weeks for them to emerge.
Many land snails mate regularly as long as their living conditions are adequate for survival. These eggs will be deposited in moist ground where there is plenty of shade. They are under the top layers of soil but if you dig a bit you will be able to find them.
Even with so many eggs being deposited, only a fraction of these snails make it to maturity. Many of the eggs are washed away by rain and water people use in their yards and gardens or eaten by predators.
Once born, predators also attack young snails, because they are slow, they are plentiful and their shell is not hard enough to deter the attack of some predators.
When they offspring emerge from their eggs, they immediately need to get calcium into their bodies. They are born with a shell but it is in a fragile state. The calcium will help it to quickly harden up which offers them plenty of protection. The first thing they will instinctively consume after hatching is the shell of the very egg they came from, which is rich source of calcium. The shell continues to grow with the snail over the course of its life. The part of the shell it is born will end up in the middle of it when they are fully grown.
Snails grow rings inside of the shell as they grow. This is how scientists and researchers are able to get a good idea of how old they are. For the most part it seems that snails live a life that is slow paced and very basic. You can tell if a snail is full grown or not by looking at the part of the shell that opens up to the rest of the body. If there is a small lip on it then the snail won’t grow anymore. If it is missing then the snail still will continue to get bigger.