Land snails serve an important role in the ecosystem. They eat very low on the food web, as most land snails will consume rotting vegetation like moist leaf litter, and also fungi and sometimes eat soil directly. The land snail relies on a diet rich in calcium and other nutrients to support the growth and repair of its shell as well as its overall health.
Snails then in turn are consumed by a variety of predators that rely on snails for their calcium and other dietary needs. A great diversity of animal life feeds upon land snails, from insects to lizards and snakes, salamanders, birds and mammals. Some species of fireflies consume snails exclusively during their larval stage.
Many birds rely on snails for the extra calcium they provide. The snails provide calcium and other nutrients vital to the formation of shells and embryos. One study showed that during egg-laying season, female wild turkeys consumed as much as 40 percent more snails than normal.
If you enjoy fireflies, birds, lizards, and other animals, remember to thank the snails, who support their place on the food web!
This drawing shows land snails at the bottom of the food web. Above the snail, you’ll see some of their common predators: firefly larvae, salamander, toad, rodents like chipmunks and mice, a wood thrush, turkey and box turtle. Above these, you’ll see the predators of the snail predators: fox, snake, bear, and hawk.
This drawing is a rough sketch. Stay tuned for a refined illustration that will be available for sale as a poster in The Snail Wrangler online store!
©2014 Marla Coppolino