The Tiniest Snails On Earth!

Baby snail and motherPhoto:
Baby snail with its gigantic looking mother
Image via hellishhumor

Freshly hatched baby snails are not an uncommon sight to behold, as adult snails can lay eggs up to once a month with broods of up to 100 eggs. The difficulty lies in spotting them as these tiny, only mm-long creatures require a keen eye and a good macro lens. Luckily, quite a few photographers share our interest in snail babies and have captured the following awww-inspiring moments.

Tiny snail discovering the world:
Snail sequencePhoto:
Image: Alison Jackson-Bass

Snails have a ribbon-like tongue that has thousands of tooth-like structures, similar to a file. This tongue, called a radula, rasps away pieces of food. Photographer Alison Jackson-Bass, commenting on her encounter with baby snails captured in the sequence above, said: “One shot shows it nibbling away at the dry skin on my finger – I could actually feel it rasping away!” Don’t pretend you’re not thinking awwww…

Could it be any tinier? Baby snail on a grape:
On grapePhoto:
Image: Jürgen Schiller García

All of the snails pictured here are land snails, the molluscan class of Gastropods we are most familiar with, but actually they are a minority among the three snail types; marine snails make up the great majority of snail species and there are also numerous freshwater snails.

Lots of tiny baby snails with one garlic snail:
Garlic snailPhoto:
Image: davinabehin

Finding snail babies is actually not that difficult given the frequency with which snails mate (up to once a month) and the size of the broods they produce (up to 100 eggs). As suggested, spotting and capturing them in macro with camera may be the most difficult part. Depending on the snail species, egg sizes range from 3 mm in diameter for the common grove snail to 6 mm in diameter for the Giant African Land Snail. Giant is relative in snail terms!

Giant African Land Snail babies on a piece of cucumber:
On cucumberPhoto:
Image via petforums

Garden snails (Helix aspersa) bury their eggs 5 to 10 cm deep in shallow topsoil, digging with their foot. The eggs will hatch after 2 to 4 weeks and the first task of a baby snail is to eat the egg from which it hatched. As baby snails’ shells are still very weak, they need this immediate calcium boost to survive.

A just hatched snail baby, only 2-3 mm long!
Just hatchedPhoto:
Image: Marianne

Here a view from below – hello!
View from belowPhoto:
Image: Marianne

The tiny young snails are almost completely transparent and colourless. Once they’ve made their way above ground, they will continue their quest for food, mainly going for the leaves and vegetables they find around them.

Here’s proof – not even 1 cm long!
On rulerPhoto:
Image: Patty O’Hearn Kickham

Baby snail on its hind, er, foot to catch a drop of dew from a spider’s web:
Rearing upPhoto:
Image: Ingrid Taylar

About three months after hatching, the baby snails will look like a miniature version of their parents. They will reach adult size after 2 to 3 years and will be sexually mature, depending on the snail species, between 6 weeks and 5 years!

When all the world’s a tomato:
On tomatoPhoto:
Image: zenera

After a few weeks, they show a slight colouration, usually bluish, before they take on their adult colour.

Baby snail on a coin, found in Flatbush, Brooklyn:
On coinPhoto:
Image: Frank H. Jump

Snail baby reading the paper?
With newspaperPhoto:
Image: Till Westermayer

Just when you thought we couldn’t get any closer, we leave you with this amazing macro shot of a baby snail on the run. Don’t miss its grumpy expression and the faint shadow!

Image: Claude Attard Bezzina

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4