Do you know the mating process of snails is one of the most interesting ones in the animal kingdom? Snails are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs. Also, they can only lay eggs when mating with another snail of the same species. It gets even more exciting – some snails mate as a female one season and as a male the next, but other snails can play both roles at the same time and fertilize each other simultaneously. How cool is that? The only snails that are not hermaphrodites are some freshwater and marine species, such as Apple Snails and periwinkles. These two types of snails still have separate male and female individuals.
When do snails mate?
Usually in the late spring or early summer, but in some warmer climates it can happen in autumn or even several times per year. Mating happens after the sunset, when the snails are at their peak activity. The mating process is very slow – like everything else snails do – and it can take up to 12 hours. Once completed, the sperm can remain in the snail for up to a year, but usually snails lay eggs within two weeks.
Snails are mature enough to start reproducing from one month and a half to 5 years, depending on species. The reason is their short life span of five to seven years, allowing for a faster growth rate of the species.
Snails can refuse to mate with another snail of the same species that originated from a considerable distance away.
How do snails mate?
Snail reproductive organs are on the bottom of their body and close to the front to improve their abilities to mate. At the end of the mating ritual, both snails will fertilize the eggs in the other, so both of them will deliver eggs. A snail can carry up to 100 eggs at a time.
Once the fertilization is completed, eggs will grow inside the snail, until they are ready to be delivered. Snails lay their eggs in the soil and bury them into separate places inside a small hole 1 to 1½ inches deep in the soil in a cool place. This will protect the eggs and enable them to hatch.
See the below video of a snail laying eggs – very interesting to see it from this perspective.
Perfect snail mating conditions
Snails need soil at least 2 inches deep in which to lay their eggs and the soil has to be the right temperature, humidity and composition.
- Soil temperature: around 21 °C (70 °F).
- Soil moisture: 80%
- Composition: 20% – 40 % organic material
Snails reproduce mostly in their second year of life and may lose a lot of weight during laying eggs. Some snails never recover and die after the snail breeding season. Snails will start mating and laying eggs in months with at least 10 hours of daylight. Eggs will begin hatching after 2 – 4 weeks, depending on the warmth. Little baby snails will climb out of their nests after several more days. As soon as snails hatch they will need a source of calcium to build a stronger shell. The best source of calcium is their own egg and other, still unhatched, eggs, which is called cannibalism. Baby snails take three months to look like a snail – still very small, but with all features fully visible.
How to avoid cannibalism of hatchlings?
Keep the temperature around 20 °C (68 °F) and most eggs will hatch within 1 to 3 days apart, which will prevent cannibalism. Sometimes the hatching process can happen over a longer period and this makes cannibalism much more frequent.
Snails reproduce themselves very efficiently, which makes the snail breeding a fairly simple procedure and the snail farm a very profitable form of farming. Snails being hermaphrodites and laying many eggs at the same time means the farm can grow from a small breeding patch very quickly.
The below video shows mating of snails: