Snails are close relatives of slugs, clams and oysters. The many species of snails in Alberta can be found in water and on land.

Land snails and water snails
  • Land snails favour damp soil and are rarely more than 5 millimetres (less than a quarter of an inch) long.
  • Water snails may be more than 5 centimetres (2 inches) long.

Both land and water snails breathe with a lung, not a gill. Every so often, water snails must come to the surface to expose the lung opening to the air for gas exchange. During storms, countless thousands of water snails may be washed up on shores.

Food and feeding
  • Snails eat both dead and living plant material.
  • They feed by scraping with a special tongue-like organ called a radula. The radula, with many tooth-like structures on it, is used very much like a wood file.
Snails and parasites
  • Snails often have parasites that affect humans and other animals.


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Updated: Apr 8, 2009