Snails appear to be taking over your garden. But is this because they live for years and years? Or is it because they reproduce rapidly? Let’s discuss: How long do garden snails live?
Yes, garden snails live as long as two to three years.
Some species of snails can live longer than others, while larger snails tend to have a longer life. You can tell the age of the snail by observing the shell. When snails are born, they have the same shell, which grows as the snail matures.
What is the Life Cycle of a Garden Snail?
When snails are born, they have their shells but a softer version of them. To ensure that the shells grow to be healthy, snails require a large amount of calcium. When snails hatch, they consume the eggshells even of the eggs which have not yet hatched.
Baby snails have transparent bodies and soft shells which change continue to develop as they grow.
Snails are growing at a high rate during this point but are quite vulnerable. It can take around six weeks to five years for a snail to attain sexual maturity, depending on the species. Once the snail has become mature, it is ready to copulate with another.
Before copulating, snails spend a lot of their time looking for a partner. These animals are quite slow, as you well know, and use their tentacles to smell and touch the ground to track slime trails.
Upon finding a partner, snails will smell and taste them for a long time until they shoot a love dart. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a love dart means the mating process is done. However, that is not the case.
The snail’s shooting the love dart ensures that the other does not kill the sperm when it enters the body. It is essentially a warning to the other snail that they have been chosen.
The snail then uses its penis to transfer sperm to the other to fertilize it. In some cases, the two snails will insert their penis in each other to transfer the sperm. Snails are heterosexuals and have male and female organs. During the mating process, both snails can get fertilized.
As the mating process ends, each snail might have to lay eggs depending on the road they took during copulation. The gestation period is different for snails depending on their species.
It takes a few days after mating for the eggs to develop. The snails will take a few days to drop the eggs, and each snail lays around 100 – 400 eggs, so it has a maximum chance of survival.
Snails drop their eggs in moist soil by digging a two-inch deep hole. This provides the eggs with protection until they hatch. The eggs which survive will hatch. Some eggs can be destroyed by predators or get washed away with rain or other weather conditions.
It takes around two weeks to four months for the eggs to hatch. The snails are growing already inside the eggs before they hatch, and when the eggshells probe to be a great source of calcium to them when they get out.
How Can You Tell How Old a Garden Snail Is?
Snails are born with shells on their backs. When they are young, the shells are soft; however, as they mature, the shells grow hard and expand with the snail. Snails are able to produce calcium needed to expand the shell.
You can tell how old a garden snail is by the rings on the shells – much like a tree! You can count the rings from the edge of the snail’s shells. Most land snails will only live for one annual period before dying.
What Can Affect A Snail’s Lifespan?
How long a snail lives also depends on the fact that he is in the right environment. There are a few factors that can affect a snail’s life length.
Firstly, snails need the right environment, which also constitutes their habitat. Snails need a damp environment that has a lot of moisture. Therefore, you will mostly find snails in gardens. Snails need moisture because they need it to produce mucous, which allows them to move.
In addition, snails also need lots of leaves and foliage to hide or lay their eggs.
Next, the important thing is food. Garden snails require plenty of food to thrive and live a long life. Snails are known to eat more than their required intake. Most of the snails you find in your garden are herbivores which means they heavily rely on plants, vegetables, and fruit.
Snails also need lots of calcium as it enables them to grow their shell. If snails do not receive enough calcium, the shell will be weak and break easily, shortening their life.
Garden snails are one of the pests you may have to deal with daily. These snails can live as long as two to three years, even more depending on their location. When snails mate, they either have the chance of getting fertilized as these animals hermaphrodites.
Therefore, after copulation, both snails can be fertilized. Snails become sexually mature around six weeks of age.
There are certain factors that contribute to how long a snail’s life can be. For instance, snails need a moist environment, plenty of food like greens, fruits and vegetables and ample calcium to build their shells.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden