Imagine spending the day moving at the speed of a snail. Would it be a luxury or a nightmare — inching along taking in the sights and smells or struggling to get to your goals before it is too late?
Snail speeds can range from barely noticeable to a recently recorded max speed of 1 meter per hour! A combination of snail mucus and muscle pulses along the bottom, or foot, of the snail makes this movement possible. However they can only move in a forward direction. Land snails use two types of mucus one for sliding and one for sticking. As they slime around eating and learning from their environment they can maximize their speed by following the slime of other snails to conserve energy like NASCAR drivers!
These unique adaptations make them an interesting subject for biomimetic engineering. For instance, if snails can crawl up walls, why not robots? When you look closely at all they can do, I cannot help by think, “Step aside Spiderman, here comes Super Slug Woman!”
How fast are the snails in your garden, pond or ocean moving? Grab your stopwatch and do a little science of your own. Who knows, your snail might even be cut out for the competitive sport of snail racing! Serena’s little brother Sam has been practicing the 13 inch sprint and hopes to compete in London’s Snail Race Championships when he grows up!
Lai, J. H., Juan C. del Alamo, Javier Rodríguez-Rodríguez and Juan C. Lasheras. (2010) The mechanics of the adhesive locomotion of
terrestrial gastropods. Retrieved from http://jeb.biologists.org/content/213/22/3920#sec-12
Patches, M. (2013) Snails Race for Glory, Lettuce. National Geographic retrieved from
The Huffington Post. (2013). Snails' Top Speed Is Revealed In New Study. Retrieved from
Author & Illustrator
Ashley M. Young