If you’ve ever explored your garden or woods after the rain, you’ve probably already seen dozens of snails or slugs crawling around.
You might’ve also seen them climb plants and trees or cross sidewalks. Not to mention, they would always leave this unique, shiny slime trail wherever they go.
If you’ve already witnessed a snail or slug in motion before (I have), we can all agree that they move so slowly. But have you ever wondered why they are so slow?
Already curious, I bet.
Then, let me share the science behind why snails and slugs move so slowly.
Snails are known to be the third slowest animals, and they are so slow for three reasons.
The first reason is because they have no legs to move around. Instead, they rely on their muscular foot or a band of muscle along their bodies’ underside. This muscular foot contracts, which creates tiny ripples called pedal waves from the animal’s tail to its head.
Moreover, these muscular contractions secrete the slimy mucus that reduces friction in their track and allows the snail or slug to glide or climb.
However, these unique features of snails and slugs are also why they move so slowly. Their limited muscular contractions and the amount of mucus needed make it difficult to move fast.
Another reason is what they eat. Snails and slugs don’t need to move around to find food because they mainly eat plants or decaying matter.
Unlike predators like cheetahs or owls that needs to move fast to catch a meal, snails, and slugs don’t need to rush because their food doesn’t move around much.
The last reason for their slowness is related to their predators. They do not need to move fast to evade predators because they’ve evolved to hide from their enemies.
The snail and slugs’ slowness and color make them blend well with their surroundings. Also, predators don’t notice them easily because they move so slowly.
Moreover, snails retreat into their shells to hide, while land slugs hide under logs, stones, or ground cover.
Snails and slugs may be slow, but they are important in our ecosystem. Their sticky slime combines with particles from the ground and improves the soil structure.