Uncommon Findings On Snail Slime

The slimy shelled creature is a poem I wrote a long time ago. It was just all about the amazing creature in nature with a slimy substance that makes it disgusting to some people and amazing medicine to some others. I am talking about the snail slime!

I walk around with my shell, gracefully without care, It is my house, my fortress and everything I have got. I crawl far; I climb heights with this shell of mine,

It may seem difficult but I have got my slime. My slime makes it easier to move around with confidence. Over surfaces sharp enough to pierce yet I am without a scratch.

This slime that I release repulses the enemy. It is a healing balm to those who know it. I love my slime because it leaves a trail for my beloved to trace,

It is a saving fluid against the harsh weather. My slime, my shell, my body are what makes me an amazing creature in nature. I am a snail with a shell and of course my slimy substance. I am the slimy shelled creature.

Olufunmilayo Ibiyosola

The Interesting Snail Slime
The Interesting Snail Slime

Snails and their cousins; the slugs leave a trail of mucus on everything they move on. The snail slime trail that they leave behind is visible on surfaces such as stone, concrete, leaves, plants etc.

This mucus is produced by the foot of the gastropods. The snail produces different types of slime depending on the gland that secretes it.

Although the snail slime helps them to move effortlessly, yet, snails do not need it to move. The muscle on their feet generates pulses that propel them forward.

The Interesting Snail Slime
The Snail And It’s Cousin Slug

Whether they are moving or sitting silently, snails keep producing slime. The purpose of the slime when they are not moving is different from when the sails are on the move. Snails can cling to surfaces and defy the law of gravity.

Why Does The Snail Produce Slime?

Snails and slugs can release different types of slime depending on the way it is being stimulated. A normal stimulation produces a viscous, sticky slime while a disturbed snail will produce a clear foamy secretion.

Snails produce slime simply because it is a way to keep the body moist and not dry out. Slime also protects the snails from predators to a large extent.

Snail slime is also a way for snails to trail potential partners during their mating season. Snails can also curl up inside their shell comfortably with the help of their slime.

The Interesting Snail Slime
The Interesting Snail Slime

Composition Of The Snail Slime

The snail slime or snail mucus is a gel-like substance which consists of a network of polymers that functions as a protective layer for the surface and body of the snail.

This slime is a discharge which looks like gel and contains approximately about 91 to 98 percent water by weight, depending on the snail species, combined with a relatively small amount of high molecular weight glycoproteins.

Where Is The Snail Slime Produced?

There are single-cell glands found in the snails connective tissues that secrete their products through pores which pass between the snails epidermal cells. These glands vary in shapes and they usually have a long excretory duct.

Snails have about eight different types of these secreting glands with four of these glands secreting different types of protein, calcium, pigments and lipids.

Snail slime is a type of internal or external body secretion which the snail produces. Members of the gastropod family regardless of the habitat; land snails, marine snails, freshwater snails and slugs produce mucus.

The Interesting Snail Slime
The Interesting Snail Slime

The external type of mucus is produced by the foot of the snail and is usually used for crawling. The external mucus also coats the external parts of the land snails body; and this coating helps to prevent the exposed soft tissues from desiccation.

The slime produced at the foot of the snail has some of qualities of glue and lubricant, making the land snail crawl up vertical surfaces without falling off and also move on sharp objects without getting hurt.

The slime which is produced while the snail is not in motion is helps the snail to stick to surfaces creating a temporary sealant called the epiphragm. This slimy discharge is produced by the large gland located below the mouth of the snail.

The reproductive system of snails also produces a type of slime used to invite potential mates as they are trailed to their location. It can be distinguished by the type of protein it contains.

Uses Of The Snail Slime

The most known use of the snail slime is to aid locomotion, however, there are more.

  1. Locomotion: the snail slime aids their swift movement even though the muscles in the feet propel them forward; the slime makes it easier and faster.
  2. Adherence: Have you seen a snail hanging from a tree or a really smooth surface? That is the function of that slimy slime! The slime also has an adhesive property which allows the snail to climb trees, walls and a variety of surfaces.
  3. Lubrication: Snails need their slime every moment so that they don’t dry out from the heat of the sun and other harsh weather conditions.
  4. Protection from predators: Do you know that the sight of the snail slime is enough to disgust some people and make them shy away from enjoying a snail delicacy? Thanks to the slime, the snail is safe; at least from those set of people until the snail lovers get a grip of them. LOL
  5. Protection on all surfaces: snails can move very swiftly and comfortably on extremely sharp objects even razor blade. This leaves what we often see as a snail trail. This secretion is secreted from glands under the mouth. The snail slime will also cools the snails on hot surfaces such as stone or rocks.
  6. Recognition: the snails trail left by the snail slime makes other snails follow them to their destination especially during reproduction. Slime is an important part of their mating rituals as well.
  7. Protection from heat: the snails body slime keeps the animal moist and also prevents it drying out. During extreme weathers, the snail also aestivates by producing a type of white mucus that covers the shell; they can stay this way for a very long time.
  8. Medicine: Snail slime was said to have been used medicine from the Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages against gastrointestinal ulcers and also in the form of syrup to soothe cough.
  9. In recent times, this has been modified and various pharmaceuticals uses snail slime as a raw material in preparing medications.

    The Interesting Snail Slime
    The Interesting Snail Slime
  10. Cosmetics: snail slime is used in human cosmetics for some facial cleanser and cure for acne and other skin problems. Some are used raw (organic) and some have other ingredients added (inorganic).

Conclusion

The snail slime is a very important substance to the snail and in nature. This sticky substance gives the snail an edge to some predators and of course a healing balm to man.

Uncommon Findings On Snail Slime
Uncommon Findings On Snail Slime

The secretive glands that produce the slime are about eight with unique protein content and function. From the snail reproduction process to protection from the sun and a repulsive substance to predators, the snail slime is useful.

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