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Two snails cross the road to get to the other side.

Why would anyone want to study snails? A common reaction whenever people see a snail is to cry out “Ew! Gross!” or to try to smash it immediately. But snails are not gross in fact snails are incredible and they are actually a special species that tells scientists whether or not an environment is healthy! If there are snails and slugs that means that the environment is healthy because snails are considered to be an indicator species.

An indicator species is a species that is vital to the environment, and often are the most sensitive species in a region or ecosystem! Does that mean

Let’s all stick together to save our ecosystem. This is an adult snail with its baby.

that their feelings get hurt a lot? Or they are super emotional? Not necessarily. . . it just means that these particular animals (for example snails) respond to disease, pollution or even climate change in such a dramatic way that they are considered to be an early warning to monitoring biologists. Why does that matter? Well in order to make sure that the environment is healthy for all the wildlife (and ourselves) monitoring biologists will give these indicator species extra special attention!

Some other really cool indicator species include the frog, lichens, shell fish, stone fly and many others. These are often overlooked animals on the large scale (most people won’t say their favorite critter is the stone fly or a mollusk) but they are really the champions of helping us to protect and preserve our environment!

Fun Facts About Snails:

  1. Snails often have a “Homing Instinct

  2. Snails aren’t all that slow! They can reach a top speed of roughly 1 mph

  3. Snails are known to carpool! They hitch a ride on other snails to get places.

  4. Snails live on land and in the ocean/lakes. They can have shells or no shells.

  5. Snails can be herbivores or carnivores.

The photos in this blog are of snails from the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. What do you think that might tell us about the environment there? What kind of snails do you see around you?!

Are you interested in helping scientists study the ecosystem? Or do you want to learn more about these unique species? Check out the links below to learn more about snails, indicator species and how scientists (and you!) can observe our environment:

Scientists Study Snails

How You Can Help

Indicator Species

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