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Garden Snail

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Garden Snail - Helix aspersa

Garden Snail - Helix aspersa

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The garden snail (Helix aspersa) is a terrestrial snail that is native to eastern and western Europe, northwest Africa, Iberia, Anatolia, and the British Isles. The species has also been introduced (both intentionally and by accident) in many other areas throughout the world including southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, North America and South America. Thanks to its widespread distribution and it's abundance, the garden snail is among the most familiar of all terrestrial snails.

Like the Roman snail (and many other pulmonates), the garden snail is hermaphroditic (meaning that individuals produce both male and female gametes). And if that isn't amazing enough, garden snails sometimes undergo self-fertilization (though they usually reproduce sexually).

Also like the the Roman snail, the garden snail is edible but despite this fact, the species has not won much attention in the culinary world. The garden snail is largely overlooked as a delicacy and is instead considered to be a mere garden pest.

When mating, garden snails use rather bizarre structures called love darts (these are sharp dart-like structures that the snails "shoot" into one another). The love darts are not used to transfer sperm (sperm is transfered at a different stage in the mating process) but do transfer a hormone-like substance that increases the likelyhood that sperm survive.

Garden snails have a brownish-grey body and foot. Their head has four tentacles and their eyes are located on the tips of the upper two tentacles. The lower two tentacles are equipped to sense touch, taste, and smell stimuli. The mouth of a garden snail is located below their bottom two tentacles and contains a chitinous radula that they use for chewing and scraping their food.

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