Land snails

Birds sometimes lift up snails that they spy on the ground, and then drop them from a height. This can break the shell and make it far easier for a bird to gobble the snail down. It seems likely that this action is mainly carried out by crows or other corvids, which are incredibly intelligent.

There seems to be some evidence that some snails are able to survive being swallowed by birds. Small snails eaten by birds were found, in a study carried out in Japan, to pass alive through the gut of their predators. This species of snail then finds itself spread wider than it would be if it had to rely on its own slow movement. The survival depends on the size of the snail because the smaller they are, the less damage is likely to be done to their shell. Snails can make minor repairs to their shells (like DIY plasterers) but they cannot do this if there’s been serious damage done. Snails cannot live without their shells as it is an integral part of their body.

Snails themselves don’t eat in a similar way to us. Instead, they scrape their food (with a radula, a collection of teeth-like lumps) off and then swallow it. Some people say you can hear them scraping if your environment is quiet enough!


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