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LET'S EXPLORE Mini-beasts

How do slugs and snails live?

A close-up view of a snail's tentaclesA close-up view of a snail's tentaclesSlugs and snails are gastropods. This is a group of molluscs that have soft bodies and move about on one large foot. Slugs and snails have two pairs of feelers, called tentacles. One pair is used for seeing, the other pair for touch and smell. Most kinds feed on leaves and fungi. Unlike slugs, snails have hard shells. Snails will pull their head and bodies into their coiled shell if they are threatened. Land snails and slugs are hermaphrodites: each has both male and female sex organs. But they still need to mate with each other.


Common garden snailCommon garden snail



Diagram of a snail's radulaDiagram of a snail's radula

Digestion

The mouth is located beneath the tentacles. Most kinds of slug and snail have thousands of minute "teeth" on their ribbon-like tongue, which is called a radula. The radula’s rough surface helps the animals to tear their food into small, digestible pieces.

A snail moves at a top speed of a little more than a centimetre per second, or about 50 metres (about 160 ft) per hour.

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