Land snails are slimy, cold, move slowly, and have amassed too many adjectives that describe them in an unsavory way. But let’s take a different view of them. Did you know that there are more than 1,000 species (different kinds) of snails in North America alone? Did you know that there are likely still species that have never been described or given names? Did you know that land snails are mollusks, and related to clams, octopus, and squid? Did you know that there are only a handful of malacologists (scientists studying mollusks) who study land snails? Yet land snails are very important to the ecosystem, because so many other animals rely on land snails for their survival. The ecosystem could not survive without its snails!
Slugs are snails too! They have evolved to not need a shell, and instead slugs produce a much thicker mucus for protection from predators and drying out. They also tend to move more quickly than a snail does. So, then why do we always hear about the “sluggish” economy, and not a “snailish” economy?
Throughout this website, when we refer to snails, we are also talking about slugs.
How many people do you know (perhaps yourself) who don’t like snails because they munch on your prized vegetables in your garden? Most, if not all of the snails on your veggies are more than likely invasive species. These are kinds of snails that have hitched rides on boats with shipments from other countries to North America. They are mostly generalist herbivores, that is, they eat a very wide range of foods. The native snails live in the non-disturbed areas, in woods, grassland, and even in the deserts of N. America, and they tend to have no interest in your garden.