After the recent rains in the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas, fresh lush green vegetation can be found sprouting along the roadside, and within the new grass with their shells glistening in the early morning sunshine you will find the Giant Snail quietly gliding along.
Giant snails are a source of fascination among guests, as they are simply so big! Here are some facts you might not have known:
- Giant snails are most active at night, but are seen in the day as they can be active in temperatures of up to 29 degrees.
- Giant Snails are not social, only getting together when they need to mate. After the snail has laid her eggs, about two hundred at a time, she does not wait around and has no bond with her off spring when they hatch.
- Newly hatched snails grow quickly till they are about six months old, when their growth then slows down, but never actually stops. They continue growing throughout their lives and giant snails can live to be six years old.
- In very dry climates the Giant Snail seals itself inside its shell to retain water. Should there be a severe drought the Giant Snail will retreat into its shell and stay there having a type of “summer sleep”. Winter months are spent inside their shells hibernating. They slow their metabolism down and therefore have no need to eat during this period.
- The Giant Snail makes no sound at all and spends its day gliding slowing along in search of food. They do stop and rest along the way. They are not fussy eaters and will eat both dead and living plant matter. Giant Snails feed on over 500 different plant types, including crops, making them unpopular with most farmers. They eat leaves, flowers, stems, bark, seeds, grains and even other snails. They are happy to eat your cauliflower or banana crops.
- In order to keep their shells well preserved, Giant Snails need to get calcium and if they cannot get that from their plant diet they will happily feed on bones, sand and even small stones.
- The Giant Snail can reach a length of 20 centimetres, with a height of up to ten centimetres, and weigh about 30 grams.
- On its head it has two short tentacles and two long tentacles that have eyes on the end of each.
- Their shells are conical, narrow and have up to 9 spirals on the surface. The colour of the shell is normally shades of brown with yellow stripes. Inside the mouth, the Giant Snail has a tongue that is called a radula. It also has teeth that it uses to scrap the food before eating it.
- It has a Muscular Foot that releases mucus as it moves. The mucus helps the snail to reduce friction and it also helps to not damage their tissues.