Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snail Mating

I have never seen snails mating before, so when I saw a pair having an intimate moment, my guess was that "This Is It"!

(Wild Wild West - 10 Nov 09)

My friend didn't think so and told me that, like most animals, the male would climb on top of the female snail to mate. Not convinced, I searched the internet and found these interesting facts:

How to differentiate Male from Female Snail?
There is no male or female snail because they are all both! Snails are hermaphrodites which means that each individual processes both male and female reproductive organs. It can produce sperms and eggs at the same time. In some rare cases, self fertilization are possible but normally mating is between two individuals of the same species. To fertilize the eggs, the snails would exchange sperms with each other. After mating, both become pregnant and go off separate way and lay fertilized eggs in nests dug out of moist soil.

Why do snails have both reproductive organs?
Because of its slowness, the snail needs much time to move in a very small area. So the chances to meet a mating partner are too low to divide them even further by two sexes to choose from! Having both reproductive organs increase their mating chances i.e. they can mate with any snails of the right species.

How do snails mate?
When two snails mate, each snail presses the front part of its foot against the foot of the other snail. The snails shoot a hard dart into each other (see close-up image below) which makes sperms pass between them. However, a single snail can do all this by itself!

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