Some wild animals in the park don’t attract much attention. They don’t fly, they don’t run, they don’t even walk, nor do they run away or dig holes to evade detection. They are seldom noticed. They are not furry or feathery, or cute or pretty. And they don’t vocalize with chirps or growls or any other sounds.
Such is the Pacific sideband snail.
Take a close look at it, and it is attractive—sort of. It’s a big snail relative to other snail species. Its colorful shell, shaped like an ear’s cochlea, has an orderly pattern of reddish brown, dark brown, black, beige, and other colors. The raised central whorl of the shell is worn and pale, typical of this snail species. Its fleshy part outside its shell is colored two shades of brown. Tiny raised milk chocolate shapes crowd the surface of the dark bitter sweet chocolate skin. Two long delicate retractable tentacles come out of its forehead, and two short ones come out on either side of its mouth. The longer forehead tentacles end in eyes. A slow moving animal, it travels at a snail’s pace.
Loss and fragmentation of habitat has greatly reduced the snail’s population, though it’s not yet on a U.S list of endangered or watched animal species. British Columbia, Canada, however, has it on its concerned list.
The snail prefers habitat of moist ground layered with leaves, fir needles, moss, and other debris in deciduous and coniferous forests. The shell at full maturity, which takes two years, measures about an inch and three-eighths in diameter. The snail can live up to six years.
The snail eats fungi and most any vegetation. It eats using its radula. A combination of tongue and teeth is an inaccurate though useful way of describing it. They use it to scrape and shred food so it can be ingested.
Snails are simultaneous hermaphrodites. They are both male and female, that is, they have both male and female sex organs at the same time. (Serial hermaphrodites have both male and female organs but at different times in their life cycle).
Most snails, including the Pacific sideband, have two pairs of tentacles. The uppermost pair carries eyes. The lower pair is the snail’s nostrils.