Snails photographed at Barnegat Light House park, New Jersey, USA in June, 2005.
Snails come out during times of dampness, rain or fog. They eat tender leaves and decayed plant matter. The reproductive system of snails is so efficient that whenever two snails meet they can mate because they contain both male and female sex organs. Some snails dig holes in the ground, lay an egg mass then use their “foot” to push dirt to fill the hole. Other snails simply lay eggs in wet leaves. The immature snails hatch from the eggs and begin growing their protective hard shell from the mantel on their outer skins.
During drought or in the heat of summer, snails go into estivation, withdrawing into their shells and sealing themselves off with mucus to avoid becoming dehydrated. When moisture returns to the environment, the snails reactivate. During winter when it is cold and dry, snails go into full hibernation.
Snails native to the U.S. are usually yellow, dark green, brown or cinnamon in color with no unique design. The shells are usually circular and flat. The more decorative striped snails are native to Europe and were brought to the Americas in the ballast of ships. A snail with 8 whorls in its shell is about two years old.