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Snail Anatomy

A Natural History of Terrestrial Snails


Snail Anatomy
Photo © Anette Linnea Rasmussen / Shutterstock.

Parts of the Body

Snails are very different from humans so when we think about body parts, we're often at a loss when relating the familiar parts of a human body to snails. The basic structure of a snail consists of the following body parts:

  • foot
  • head
  • shell
  • visceral mass

The foot and head are the parts of the snail's body that we can see outside its shell, while the visceral mass is located within the snail's shell and includes the snail's internal organs.

Internal Organs

A snail's internal organs include:

  • a lung
  • digestive organs (crop, stomach, intestine, anus)
  • a kidney
  • a liver
  • reproductive organs (genital pore, penis, vagina, oviduct, vas deferens)

Nervous System

A snail's nervous system is made up of numerous nerve centers that each control or interpret sensations for specific parts of the body:

  • cerebral ganglia (senses)
  • buccal ganglia (mouthparts)
  • pedal ganglia (foot)
  • pleural ganglia (mantle)
  • intestinal ganglia (organs)
  • visceral ganglia
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