Life and romance of a one-eyed Roman snail

Or: Reproduction and Birth in Helix pomatia.

Blinded by love? Alezan the burgundy snail (Helix pomatia, a.k.a Roman snail) has only one eye. Whether this is the result of trauma or birth defect, it’s unclear, but one thing is certain: it hasn’t prevented Alezan from living a healthy, functional life – or successfully reproducing, for the matter.

Alezan and Margot, mating. Both adults (and fellow Helix pomatia Blanche, not shown)
were purchased from a snail farm in Austria

Mating in Helix pomatia occurs in a frontal, standing position: the two individuals face each other, their pedal soles in contact. As most land snails, Helix pomatia is an incomplete hermaphroditic species, with each individual having both male and female organs, but unable to self-fertilise.

Laying eggs

After mating, both adults will lay eggs, in a hole several centimetres deep in the ground, where earth is moist and soft. The eggs are fairly large (about 1cm in diametre). Egg laying is a strenuous activity, which may take up to a full day for a burgundy snail.

Alezan’s babies, leaving the nest: it may take the newborns a few days to leave the underground after hatching

Eggs were laid on September 14, and hatched after two weeks. In the wild hatchlings born so late in the year may not survive their first winter.

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Further reading:

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