Why Do Garden Snail Shells Have Different Colors?

Why Do Garden Snail Shells Have Different Colors? Quick Facts!

The bold colors and brilliant patterns of land snail shells attract societies all over the world. The shells are used as colors and for decoration purposes.  

Such diversity in garden snail shells’ colors and patterns arise the question of how and why these shells have different colors.

Garden snail shells have different colors because of a phenomenon called polymorphism. The quality and state of a population in which it exists or exhibits different forms. This phenomenon is common in garden snails and therefore, is one of the reasons for various colors and patterns in garden snail shells.

Other factors that affect the change of color in a snail shell are environmental such as the temperature they were born in, the level of humidity, the availability of food, and the pressure of staying hidden from predators.

What Determines Snail Shell Color?

Many factors contribute to developing snail shell color, either by birth, food, environment, or temperature. But the main reason that is found through evolutionary research is said to be pigments produced by its mantle.

Also, the presence of calcium carbonate crystals in the shell from which it is mainly composed is one of the reasons for its distinct coloration. It has been observed that too much amount of calcium carbonate can change shell color to white.

Other than this, three types of pigments present in the shells of various snails are responsible for their different colors example red, yellow, brown, black, purple, blue, and green and their darker or lighter shades.

The other two factors to be mentioned are: which snail shell are you talking about? And how much color change are you talking about? The most common garden snail Cepaea has a permanent shell color by birth and none of the factors mentioned above will ever affect or change its color.

Unlike some other garden snails which will have a slight and gradual color enhancement in their shell color but it won’t change entirely.

Garden Snails

The environment in which snails are kept has a high influence on snail shells’ color. If the snail is kept in bad conditions, is poorly fed and the temperature is not appropriate, the shell color will start to deteriorate and will start turning grey or any darker shade.

If the snail is kept under perfect conditions according to its cold-blooded nature and is well fed then its shell color will enhance slowly and shine brightly.

What Color is a Snail’s Body?

Different snails species have different body colors. Usually, the snails, also known as garden snails, are brown, green, or grey and have varied shades of it.

Brown snails have this color to match the soil they live on while green snails are the ones who live on the plants and trees.
Snails’ colors allow them to either hide in the plain soil that is usually brown-colored while they can easily hide in tree leaves if the color is green.

The formation of shells also consists of calcium which is required to harden and strengthen the shell. Snails get that calcium from a variety of food, specially eggshells of other birds or insects. If the amount of calcium subsides in the shell or snail body, there is a high risk that the shell will break and get damaged and the snail will die.

How Do The Shell Color Help Snails Survive?

Different snails have different ways of protecting them in many ways. For instance, a snail with having brown shell hides with matching background that is sand to avoid predators. Another matching background is a tree or plant for green snails. It’s like hiding in plain sight for them.

Another way the shell helps the snail survive is the temperature conditions. This one entirely depends upon the color density or lightness of the shell.

For example, a snail with a dark shell will not be able to tolerate high temperatures because dark color absorbs heat. They also heat up faster in the sun due to high thermal radiation. On the contrary, the snail shell having light color will not have any such effect from high thermal radiation because the light color of the shell does not absorb the heat.

A polymorphic population of snails has the most advantage of its shell color. The reason is that predators (usually birds) tend to hunt more of a species that they had eaten before. Therefore, the more polymorphic a bunch of snails is, the high chances of survival are there. Also, the snails that most match their background cannot be spotted by predators.

Similar Posts