Mother & baby

Adult Cornu aspersum, carrying one of its newborns

Close-up

More pictures of the hatchlings.

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:

Polynesian tree snails – saved from oblivion?

Extinct in the wild in its native French Polynesia, Partula faba, a small tree snail, is being given a second chance at Bristol Zoo Gardens, where the last 88 surviving specimens are being nurtured and cared for in an attempt to save the species through conservation breeding.

Newborn Partula faba:15 snails hatched in April 2010 at Bristol Zoo Gardens
(Photo credit: Jenny Spencer)

Double disaster: in the 70s Achatina fulica, a highly prolific species of giant African land snails, was introduced into French Polynesia as a source of food but soon turned into a pest. To keep the highly invasive Achatina under control, a predator snail, Euglandina rosea (rosey wolfsnail) was introduced into the islands. Euglandina however disregarded Achatina and instead devoured local species into oblivion.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, of the many Partula species endemic to the islands, by 2009 , 13 were critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 51 extinct (including Partula affinis, P. auriculata, P. bilineata, Partula candida, P. citrina, P. dolichostoma, P. turgida, P. umbilicata and more).

Hatchlings

Barely 3mm in size, these Cornu aspersum explore the world for the first time. Eggs hatched after 12 days of incubation, and the fully formed and self-sufficient baby snails emerged from the ground, crawling their way to food and shelter.

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