how many teeth do snails have

Terrifying or Amazing: How Many Teeth Do Snails Have?

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Do snails have teeth? Well, your dentist in Clairemont has an interesting topic today. Keep reading.

Many kinds of snails exist, but they can be distinguished by being aquatic or terrestrial. The first type is better adapted to the sea or freshwater bodies, but the second one lives solely on land, although in humid areas.

What You Need To Know About Land Snails

Land snails are well known to use a kind of “mucus” or “slime” to navigate their way around. This helps them to climb up on surfaces that are inclined or rough. Additionally, they carry a shell that protects most of their body, which enables them to hide from predators.

This singular characteristic is a rigid structure made of calcium carbonate. It protects their very soft body and internal organs, such as the lung. One of the significant differences between aquatic and land snails is that the second one breathes in atmospheric oxygen, which then passes to a lung. In comparison, only a few species of water can breathe air.

In addition, these types of snails have two pairs of retractable tentacles: one is equipped with eyes, while the other allows it to sense the objects around it. The terrestrial snails are hermaphrodites. However, they cannot be self-fertilized, so they must copulate to reproduce.

 A land snail’s life expectancy can vary quite a bit between species, but they usually last more than two years and reach around seven years. There are species, however, that have managed to live up to 30 years. Most snail deaths are due to parasites or predators, which are relatively abundant. Among them are other species of mollusks, snakes, toads, and various species of birds.

What You Need To Know About Freshwater Snails

This mollusk has successfully colonized puddles, lakes, lagoons, and rivers throughout the world, as 4,000 species exist. Similar to land snails, freshwater snails are hermaphrodites. But, in this case, their reproduction is impressive because they are actually capable of fertilizing their own eggs

However, they are not around as much as terrestrial snails. The life expectancy of freshwater snails is up to one year, but some specimens can live up to five years.

What You Need to Know About Sea Snails 

The sea snail types live in saltwater, and its principal characteristic is that it has a large spiral-shaped shell, with an opening that allows the white body of the specimen to pass through. In terms of their taxonomy, they have similar features to other types of snails. However, they can have slight differences in size or colors. 

One interesting fact about sea snails is that their shell has been used as a wind musical instrument, somewhat similar to a trumpet, since ancient times.

All land snails are gastropod mollusks. That means they belong to the same group as octopus, which belongs to the species Mollusk species. Simultaneously, they are members of the gastropods class, including all the snails and the so-called “slugs.” To be a mollusk means to lack bones and internal skeleton. And still, snails are not left unprotected.

What Do Sea Snails Eat?

Like all living creatures, snails must be fed in order for them to survive. Because marine species have varied diets, certain snails are herbivorous animals (they feed on plants). On the other hand, different snails consume a number of mixed animal species, making them omnivorous or carnivorous animals.

Typically, what they eat is plankton, a microscopic organism present in water. Other species ingest waste found on the seabed, while others prefer algae or other compounds from rocks that are submerged in water, as well as clams and marine sponges.

What Do Land Snails Eat?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that snails’ vision is relatively low, so they use their sense of smell to obtain their food. It must be high in calcium because they need this component to help strengthen their shell and protect themselves from the dangers.

 They are mostly herbivorous creatures, so their diet often consists of: plant debris, pieces of fruit, and even stones or earth. In spite of this, some types of land snails can be carnivorous and sometimes even feed on smaller snails.

What Do Freshwater Snails Eat? 

In their natural habitat, they consume:

  •  Algae 
  • Remains found in stones
  • Aquatic flora
  • Plankton

Suppose you happen to have one at home as a pet. You can feed them fish scales in their aquarium as well.

So, Do Snails Actually Have Teeth?

At first sight, it would appear that snails are missing teeth, as their small delicate bodies do not seem to have a structure that would support this kind of feature. But still, how can snails eat if they are not equipped with teeth?  

The thing is, they technically do not have teeth, but they have an organ called the “radula.” This organ is almost like a jaw. Inside the radula, you can see tiny rows of what seems to be chitin teeth. One could conclude that snails have teeth because they have an organ that is very similar to them and carries out the same function.

 While these teeth are not particularly hard, they still allow snails to chew food enough so they can digest it. You can describe it as some kind of denture since it consists of thousands of small teeth arranged in rows. In this case, every row contains a central tooth surrounded by many other lateral teeth.

The factor that will influence the amount of teeth snails will have depends on the type of species. Currently, many sources assure that the number of teeth is close to 25,000.

 The eating process of a snail is pretty much like ours. They grab their food, put it in their tiny mouth, and take it to the radula. Once there, they crush it as much as they can so it can successfully go through the digestion process. As you might be able to tell, the snail’s teeth get quite a lot of damage over time because of the process and the type of food. This is why some snails have to replace their teeth continuously.

Because snails are so small, there are a lot of places for them to use as a habitat. Not only that, but they can also survive in areas that people commonly use like parks, gardens sometimes even in the street. So, although they are small and seem quite fragile, they are very good at surviving in places where other types of small animals would not be able to, thanks to their anatomy.

 Most people may only know a few types of snails, but the diversity of these species is vast. So much so that it is known the world currently holds more than 60 thousand species of them. Pretty impressive. 



  • Aparicio Serena

    Dr. Serena Aparicio, DDS, is a highly accomplished dentist specializing in cosmetic and implant dentistry. With over 23 years of experience worldwide, Dr. Aparicio has established herself as a leading expert in her field. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she has practiced dentistry in several countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, China, England, France, South Korea, Turkey, and Costa Rica.

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