Snails are a group of animals that are mostly known for being among the slowest creatures in the world. Apart from this fact, there are a lot of other interesting things about these little slowpokes. Did you know they can sleep for years continuously?
Learn what is the top speed of a snail, how exactly they move, what are the fastest members of the species, and more in this short read. I find snails somewhat fascinating so I hope you will too by the end of the article!
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How Do Snails Move?
Snails are very simple animals. They are basically slugs with a shell to protect them from predators, heat, and other external threats that could harm them. Snails have a single foot, a shell, and two pairs of tentacles, one for tasting and another for seeing and smelling.
This animal moves with the help of its single foot. It has two types of muscles that contract and relax from the tail to the head. These muscle contractions are called pedal waves. Snails’ muscles are not particularly strong, hence the slowness.
Snail’s foot serves another important function – it produces slime and mucus that help a snail glide on the ground more easily. This allows the animal to move on sharp surfaces without getting harmed and the adhesive property of slime helps them move vertically.
How Fast Do Snails Move?
Just like all humans don’t walk or run at the same speed, snails’ crawling speed varies between the individual snails. A typical speed of a garden snail is around 0.013 m/s or around 800 centimeters per hour.
Some of them are much slower but the most determined ones can cross a meter of ground per hour. This means that a snail can be in and out of an average garden in less than a day. It would take almost four days to cross the length of a typical football field.
It’s interesting to note that snails sometimes move in convoys. This way, snails save the energy required to produce slime by following the snails in front of them. Considering that these animals spend around 30% of their energy making mucus, piggybacking is an incredibly useful hack.
How Fast Is the Fastest Snail?
The fastest snail in the world was a champion called Verne. On February 20th, 1990, Verne crossed a 31-centimeter course in just 2 minutes and 13 seconds. His speed would allow him to travel more than eight meters per hour! However, his reign didn’t last for long.
In 1995, a snail named Archie took the title of the world’s fastest snail. He beat Verne by 13 seconds, finishing the course in only two minutes. Archie is still the world champion, with some snails coming close to his record, but no one has been faster than him so far.
That being said, it seems that some snails have the ability to get several times faster than other members of their species. However, it is not often you see a snail that fast. Most of them are just as sluggish as you would expect them to be.
If you are interested in seeing the fastest of the slowest compete with each other, you must visit the snail racing championship! It is held every year in England and the winner gets a delicious prize – a tankard filled with lettuce.
Fun Facts About Snails
Snails are usually known just for their slowness. However, there is so much more interesting to know about these little creatures. Here are some fun facts about snails you probably didn’t know.
- Garden snails have around 14 000 teeth.
- Snails can sleep for up to three years! They can hibernate during summer, not only when it’s cold outside.
- Although many think snails are insects, they are actually a part of the phylum called Mollusca, making them more closely related to squids and clams.
- Snails actually mate! They are hermaphrodites, meaning each snail has both male and female reproductive organs. They don’t have to mate to produce offspring, but when they do choose to do so, it can take them hours.
Is Snail the Slowest Animal?
The slowest animal on land is the snail. While there are some snails that are unusually fast, the species’ average speed places them in last place. Here are some animals that come close.
1. Three-toed sloth
Three-toed sloth lives in the trees of Central and South America. These cute creatures spend up to 20 hours per day sleeping. When awake, they move at the speed of 0.06 meters per second, making them the slowest mammals on Earth.
In fact, sloths move so little that algae often grow on their bodies.
While this is considerably faster than snails’ average speed, it’s important to remember that snails move with the help of a single foot, while sloths have four limbs to help them move. They just don’t need to because sloths get everything they need in trees. Their prey is leaves.
2. Slow loris
Slow loris moves at a speed of around half a meter per second. This is a lot faster than a snail’s pace, but it’s easy for mammals to compete with invertebrates.
3. Giant tortoise
Giant tortoises reach an average speed of around 0.07 meters per second. While they can move much faster than snails, it’s important to note again that tortoises have legs instead of just one slimy foot.
4. Sea anemones
Sea anemones take the place of the world’s slowest animals if we include the sea in the equation. They mostly live in tropical waters and can cross only 10 centimeters in one hour.
5. Sea snails
Snails’ sea counterparts are just as slow as land snails. They travel at a rate of around one centimeter per second.
Snails are the slowest animals on land. They have only one foot to help them move, so they can normally cross less than a meter per hour. The world record for the top speed of a snail holds Archie – a snail that reached a speed of almost ten meters per hour.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about snails. If you have any questions, please drop them down below!