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The most common types of snails worth mentioning
A hard outer shell, ridiculously slow movement with a trail of slime on its path; sound familiar? The snail has become a delicacy in many parts of the world today, and its byproducts (shell and slime) are also used in the cosmetic industry.
Heliciculture, another name for snail farming, has gained popularity in some countries spanning from Europe to the Middle East and Africa. Rumor has it that the Romans, who were great snail lovers and had large snail farms, were to commercialize snails (which is why one of the most popular edible land snails in the Western world, called the ‘Helix pomatia’ and is also known as the ‘Roman Snail’).
However, snail consumption has been in existence since prehistoric times. This article takes you through more details on where snails can be found, people of the world that find them edible and the history of snails and snail farming.
Where you can find snails
It is believed that the Romans were the first to eat snails; as early as the 1st Century AD, better known as the Bronze Age. The French also brought snails to California as early as the 19th century. However, since that period, snails have become a pest within that region. Snails are now common all through the United States and can be found in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, and Argentina.
With origins from the gastropod family, snails are often classified into land snails, sea snails, and freshwater snails. The snail is unique in its ability to live in just almost any habitat including tropical, dry, subtropical and temperate rainforest. They can also be found in woodland communities, limestone outcrops, and other lithio-refugia. They often reside on rocks, forest waste, under logs and even on trees.
Among the snail’s increasingly diverse sets of habitat includes the deserts, ponds, and even within the deep blue sea.
An amazing fact to know is that snails are found in every continent of the world except the ice-cold continent of Antarctica; the cold climate will freeze the snail. However, even though snails can exist in just about any environment, they often prefer areas with lots of vegetation as this serves as a major part of their dietary needs.
Several types and species of snails exist today including the 'Helix Aspersa', which has a lifespan of 2 to 5 years. It is native to the coasts of Spain and France and can even be found on the shores of the Mediterranean. This species of snail can also be found in the British Isles.
A reason why this species is found in most regions of the world is its capacity to adapt to several climates and weather conditions as they can be found in the rain forest, sand dunes and even gardens. Their adaptability makes farming of this species easy and less of a risk.
Also, the 'Helix Pomatia', nicknamed the ‘Roman snail’, is also native to a large part of Europe. This species exists in valleys and wooded peaks, and it is believed that the Romans may just have introduced it into the United Kingdom. This species is also common to states in the U.S, like Wisconsin and Michigan. A lot of people seem to favor this species because of its unique flavor and significantly larger size.
Common to the continent of Africa is the ‘Achatina’ species. They are natives of the Sahara desert and are common throughout Africa and India. However, this species is often considered as a pest in most parts of the U.S as its large size and slime is destructive to farm crops and was even banned from importation by the U.S Department of Agriculture.
Snails can be found in pretty much any environment from ditches to deserts and even at the bottom of the sea. The land snail is, however, more common to most people, but marine snails also exist, are more diverse and constitute a greater majority of snails.
The common snail finds it easy to navigate through terrain with sand, mud, and grass. The neighbor to the snail family, the ‘slug’ happens to be shell-less, finds it easy to maneuver through rough terrain and can also hang on the bark of trees. Most land snails also possess this feature.