Garden snail behavior-- how far and fast do they travel (etc.)?
May 13, 2010 2:39 AM   Subscribe

Garden snail behavior-- how far and fast do they travel (etc.)?

How much territory is an adult European land snail such as Helix aspersa or Helix pomatia likely to cover in an evening? I'm not interested in just a straight-line top speed, if there could be such a thing for a snail. If there's a likely snail lunch (such as a tomato plant or tasty patch of clover), from how far away are they likely to detect it and come for it? Or, working backwards, if I find a snail munching on something in the morning, how far has it probably traveled the previous evening to get there, and is it going all the way back or is it now going to stay where the food is? If they traveled randomly (random walk crawl), how far would they travel in a night or a week or a month? But they don't travel randomly, do they? Do they have a homing instinct and preferred territory or do they resettle where they find themselves? Given how long they live, and how fast and far they travel, and whether they have a homing instinct, how far away would I have to carry a snail to make sure it isn't coming back? Do you have any links to studies in which people have tracked snail behavior by, for example, painting and numbering their shells?
posted by pracowity to Pets & Animals (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
According to Wikipedia:
[Helix aspersa] moves at a top speed of 1.3 centimetres per second (47 meters per hour or ~50 yards per hour), and has a strong homing instinct, readily returning to a regular hibernation site.

I am quite sure that the snails in my flower bed hatched from eggs in my flower bed. (It's relatively damp and the flowers' leaves provide good cover.) They don't roam much. Judging from the silvery snail tracks I can see in the early morning, sometimes they move 3 or 4 feet in a night, but mostly from the flower bed to somewhere else and back.

Please don't move snails into your neighbors' yards because you don't want to kill them.
posted by purpleclover at 10:59 AM on May 13, 2010

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