Snail farming - Reproduction

[Edit from the future - QI featured these facts in their show last night. Other than knowing the Latin name for a giant squid, the facts I add to this blog might be my only chance to win a pub quiz, so the less they appear on TV the better]

My garden snails are Helix aspersa and they reproduce in a truly astonishing fashion. I'm not talking about "A little odd, but what they do in their own homes is up to them". I'm talking some really strange stuff.

Firstly, the best part about snail sex is that everybody walks away pregnant. Which is nice. It must be a lot easier to get your partner to come with you to your birthing classes if they also need to learn how to breath.*

Helix aspersa are hermaphrodites meaning they have all the required kit of both males and females, and although it's not normal practice among snails, its actually possible for them to self fertilise.

Normally (whatever that means) two snails participate.

It's starts with a cuddle.

And then (and here's where it gets interesting) they each whip out a hard calcium spear and go about stabbing the other with it. Through their body. Stab. Into their skin. Through their skin, and into their body. Where their calcium dart adds the required fertility to the others snail's eggs and, in turn is similarly also stabbed.

That blur is camera shake and not crazy fast paced snail action.

From what I've observed in my garden, the dart seems to be left behind. ie it breaks off.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.

It's all part of the rich tapestry of life.

The dart looks like this. 

The one pictured here is around 4 or 5 millimetres long.

Cupid's got nothing on these guys. In fact it's possible that my new and tasty garden dwelling buddies are Cupid's original inspiration to take up the bow and arrow in the first place.

*TV told me.


  1. Thing is...from my research, they need soil to lay eggs. What is the solution here?

    Nom from BYAP forum

    1. I cant remember if this was ever resolved, but at some point I got them to lay eggs in a ground up coconut husk media, and also a cup of garden soil. The reason I'm commenting now is because I just got a load of junkmail to this this post which made me re-read it. Sorry if I ignored it ages ago.

  2. They should lay eggs on the 7th or 8th of June. I'll talk more about it then, when I can get some of my own photos.


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