Invertebrate Paleontology

How many species of snail are there?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The snail is a mollusk that has a one-piece shell. The number of snail species runs into the thousands, but each species has a distinct shell color and shape. Snails can be found on land, in salt water and in fresh water. Snails from most species get around by using a flattened foot and by secreting mucus to smooth the way for travel.

    Most snails can withdraw into their shells. When this happens, the operculum, which is a flat plate on the back part of a snail’s foot, covers the opening. A snail withdraws into its shell if it senses that a predator is nearby. Because this mollusk is so slow moving, it never could escape an enemy. The shell helps protect a snail from attack. Different types of snails close their shells in different ways. For example, a snail can seal the shell’s opening by covering it with its foot. Another method is to spread a layer of slime that eventually hardens over the opening. Once safely sealed in, a snail can remain in its shell for weeks. Snails also can withdraw into their shells to remain moist during lengthy periods of cold or heat.

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