Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


The name snail applies to most members of the mollusc class Gastropoda, which have coiled shellss. Other gastropods, which lack conspicuous shells, are called slugs, and are scattered throughout groups that primarily include snails. Snails are found in freshwater, marine, and terrestrial environments.

Snails move like worms by alternating body contractions with stretching, with a proverbially low speed (hence the term snail mail for postal services). They produce a slime in order to aid locomotion by reducing friction. The slime also reduces the snail's risk of injury and helps keep away potentially dangerous insects like ants. In winter some snail species hibernate in their shells by closing the opening with a thin shell-like plate that they build only for this use and destroy in spring. Even some slug species build a shell-like object below their upper skin.

Snails are eaten in several countries of Europe - "escargot" in France, for instance - where they are considered a delicacy.

The best know for the edible snail is Helix pomatia. The brown garden snail(European brown snail) has another name, Helix aspersa. Both species belongs to the Genus Helix.