Information about: Snail

Index | Snail

Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.

Snail. A term popularly applied to the family Helicidae of gastropod mollusks, but particularly to land air-breathing and fresh-water gastropods of that family. In certain species of land snails, as the slugs, the shell is rudimentary or absent. The others have a spiral shell which the land snail can close at will by means of a limy disk called an operculum. The part of the snail protruding from the shell is the foot, upon the forward end of which is the head, bearing one or two pairs of tentacles or feelers, which are retractile. The eyes are either at the base of the tentacles or, as in the land snail, on the ends of the upper pair. The mouth has a hard, horny upper jaw and lip for biting, and contains a long rasp-like tongue, the radula, for tearing or rasping food. Snails lay round semi-transparent eggs, which are either deposited on the surface of the ground or buried beneath it. The large garden snail is abundant in Europe. This species, together with some of the smaller species, has been naturalized in the most remote colonies. Helix pomatia is the well-known edible snail, or Roman snail. It was considered a great luxury by the ancient Romans, and in the Mediterranean region is still valued as an article of food, being fed in some parts in large numbers in places specially constructed for the purpose.