Tuesday 6 May 2014

The Trail of a Snail

After each rain we always find a large art work of snail trails on our balcony, where it stays pretty dry during the rains so the snails escape there to not drown.
As you can see all trails are very wiggly, and if you imagine that they approximately go 1 mm per second leaving this trail must have taken hours, so that made me wonder, why in earth do they not just go straight to where they want to go?

So I started Googling first for 'snail trail', unfortunately this therm apparently also has a very different meaning, you'll see when you Google it, but it keeps surprising me how almost each word or phrase also has a sexual meaning, so when you search for very innocent words you can get some horrible pictures at Google Image. This is also the reason why I titled this post The trail of the Snail instead of Snail trail.

After several possibilities I gave up on my question of 'why do snails go in circles?' but did find some very fun facts about them. Funny enough beside the Giant African Snail the largest snails are in Turkey and Georgia both in the Black Sea region.
And some very interesting facts about the slime itself, source is Wikipedia (of course):
Land snails move by gliding along on their muscular foot, which is lubricated with mucus and covered with epithelial cilia.This motion is powered by succeeding waves of muscular contractions that move down the ventral of the foot. This muscular action is clearly visible when a snail is crawling on the glass of a window. Snails secrete mucus externally to keep their soft bodies from drying out. They also secrete mucus from the foot to aid in locomotion by reducing friction, and to help reduce the risk of mechanical injury from sharp objects, meaning they can crawl over a sharp edge like a straight razor and not be injured.

Basically this slime is some super stuff, I mean we can not walk on razors but those little slimy things can slide on a sharp razor without being cut, pretty cool right? But my question still stands and curiosity is a gift and a curse :) So if anyone knows please feed my hunger for this knowledge;Why do snails go round and round instead of straight???


  1. The issue you're having when observing snails is that you think like a human being.
    If you'd trace our moves for a week, and a giant would look at it, he'd think the same what you thought when looking at the trails of snails.

    They probably don't have a particular goal for more than a few minutes ahead (oh that scent is nice, I'm going to go there - oh there's light there, change of plan - oh this is elsa, going to go check her - oh another light, I'm going there - and so on)

  2. I like your theory St├ęphanie :)

  3. I think they put some spirit in morning coffee.;)

  4. I didn't check on google about the snail trail, imagination is enough and I agree with Steph about how our moves would seem for a giant :)