apple snail

Of all living creatures the snail is perhaps the most curious. Being a nature lover I have observed them for long. Slow self reliant with its home securely fixed on its back it forages for algae. Its mouth opening and closing constantly. Its eyes that can view light rest behind its two antenna  which probe the environment very effectively. There are two species, one is a hermaphrodite, the other is either male or female but can change gender at will! The hermaphrodite variety is natures boldest experiment. When two snails of this type come close and are attracted to one another for mating they instantly decide which one will be male and which one female for that particular episode. Or if both decide to be male they will exchange sperm and retain it to fertilise their eggs later. That must be considered a wonder of nature’s playful experiments.

In my fish tank i have some large Apple or Mystery snails. Frequently they come together while foraging. They keep the fish tank clean by consuming algae and food droppings for the fish. Recently i observed their mating. the male ( this is not the hermaphrodite species) climbed the shell of the female then produced a penis from its neck which probed within her shell to fertilise her. This went on for a couple of hours. The female did not turn into a male luckily. My snails keep changing gender and its difficult to know who is permanently one or the other.

The snails in my tank are a happy lot, slowly gliding up the glass cleaning it of microbes then remain pensive having fed till another of their kind approaches. Then in their slow slimy way they get excited to know what the others gender is,  to know if there was any need to change its own!! Then begins the strange courtship of one climbing the shell of another and probing the other with its sex apparatus. Then both become still and proceed with the orgy for hours examining one another. The one choosing to be female then days later moves to the top of the fish tank to lay her egg capsule on some plant or edge. there are some 500 eggs, most eaten up by fish when they emerge. But multiply they do ever so often yet there is little evidence of offspring in the tank. What a wonderful creature this is, basically sightless yet full of awareness with the two antenna, foraging merrily and being so innovative with sex. Never a dull moment for them. Finally at close of day crawling into their shell homes and closing the  trap door the Operculum

  What a  wonderful way to end the day – what they think of when coiled in their secure homes. surely there must be some thoughts even for a snail. If it can think to move in a direction, forage for algae with its large mouth and feel around with its antenna and have glorious sex for hours, it must have some thoughts when home, what it will do next.

Yes , i love my snails and the fulfilled lives they lead in their quiet slow lives. And then they also perform a service for me, by keeping my tank clean as scavengers do. And they have no demands for food air or filters. Im waiting for the time I can see some baby snails moving around. Well not yet!! Incidentally the snails i have are called Golden Mystery snails.

apple snails mating

intense love