The Gastropods of the Pacific Northwest
Snails and slugs inhabit all of BC coast – from alpine meadows to old growth coniferous forests, and from valley lowlands to urban gardens & parks.
You can see large ones after a rain or late at night when there is dew, but as a rule, most snails & slugs are tiny, and stay hidden under rocks & garden debris.
Snails and slugs belong to a large & diverse group of animals called gastropods, that live in oceans, fresh water, and on land.
Gastropods have a distinct head, with eyes at the end of their tentacles, and a broad, flat foot used for locomotion.
The BC coastal region has many fascinating snails and slugs that dwell on both land and water fresh, and salt. They can be quite amazing to observe!
Snails and slugs move pretty slow. An average adult snail moves at a speed of 3.6 meter per hour, slugs are a bit faster. While moving, snails slide on a trail of slime, a lubricant they produce to allow them to easily glide over any type of terrain. Land Snails aren’t able to hear at all but they have eyes and their incredible sense of smell to help them find food.
Snail shell is made of calcium carbonate and keeps growing as long as the snail grows. They keep adding more calcium carbonate to the edge of the shell until the snail reaches adult size.
You will find that snails are the most active at night. They may come out during the early morning hours as well. It is impossible to tell the females from the males but that means little as they hermaphrodites anyway and come equipped with both male and female organs. After mating, both snails are impregnated and will give birth.
Humans have always eaten snails and still do in many countries. But be warned, you can become very ill if the snails aren’t properly cooked. Some snails can carry a parasite that is known to cause meningitis.
Even handling land snails, especially those found in the wild, one should observe proper hygiene and wash up to avoid problems.