The Banded Snail
The banded snail has a brown lip around the rim of the shell, where this is white in other species. Learn about the banded snail.
Typically the banded snail has a brown lip around the rim of the shell, where this is white in all other species. It is one of the most common snails in Britain. The shell is known to be up to one inch in diameter and shows a variety of brilliant colors. In most cases the banded snail will have five brown or black bands running parallel to the whorls of the shell. These snails are widespread in Europe where they are regularly eaten and have more recently been introduced to North America. They can be found in woodlands, copses, hedges and open country. Some are even found in sand hills around the coast where they will emerge at night to feed. Like the common garden snail, the banded snail has a definite roost where it always returns after feeding.
The favored food of this creature is stinging nettles, but they are also known to feed on other plants and dead earthworms. The banded snail eats by rasping tissue off its food with its file like tongue. There are many different predators that prey on the banded snail. Some of these include rats, voles, hedgehogs, field mice and even rabbits. Thrushes consider the banded snail one of their favorites, holding the shell in their beak and hammering them against a stone to get at their prey. In areas of sand dunes the glow worms will prey on banded snails and man tends to favor this creature as food.
Since snails are hermaphrodites, but cross fertilization occurs, each snail fertilizes the other. Their courtship is most extraordinary method as they stimulate each other to full breeding. Each banded snail has a chalky spicule that it forms in a special pouch. During the courtship this love dart is ejected into the partner's body as a very forcible stimulus for mating. Mating takes place in the morning hours. One snail will follow another's slime until the two meet. Rearing up the pair will bite each other and the more active partner ejects his dart, followed by the other snail's dart. The mating process takes several hours and eggs are laid from the end of May to the beginning of August. Banded snails will often lay up to four clutches of eggs unless the weather is very dry, in which case they may not lay any eggs. The size of the clutches vary, depending mostly on the time of year and the color of the parents. Banded snails with five bands have been known to lay twice as many eggs as other varieties. The snail digs into the ground forcing its way down with its muscular body to lay its eggs. When it is almost buried it will lay eggs every 10 to 30 minutes. After approximately 3 days the snail leaves the nest and covers the eggs. Young snails dig their way out once they hatch and go in search of food. Maturity is reached in 2 to 3 years.
Biologists have been collecting snails for some years both from anvils and the surrounding ground where thrushes have foraged the creatures, hoping to learn more about their habits. The size of the shells appear to vary based on availability of food and weather changes. Interestingly, it was found that the thrush tends to pick banded snails of a specific color. A result of this study demonstrates to some extent, Darwin's theory of natural selection, which is popularly called today, survival of the fittest.