Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - aquatic snails

This aquatic snail is photographed in my Dad's fishpond. Dad's been a prolific aquatic snail breeder and he has no idea how he does this! We bought him snails for a fish pond when we were kids and they went haywire - thousands of snails in a few weeks (maybe a slight exaggeration). He gave lots away and they kept multiplying. I think these snails I photographed are relatives of the snails we gave him 35 years ago!

Aquatic snails are important for the breakdown of dead animals and plants in water (their food source). They have a radula, which is a strip of chitonous teeth, which they use for rasping and grinding.

The secrete their own shell, growing it for their needs. They usually attach to plants or rocks in the water to keep their location, or else they could be washed away. They breathe through different methods, depending on type of snail - some have gills in their shell, some have air pockets in their shell, and some have an apparatus that is thought to be associated with breathing.

Some snails are hermaphrodites, but many are distinctly male or female. Snails have sex by an exchange of sperm packets and eggs in a gelatinous mass attached to a substrate. Raunchy, hey?

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