We only ever really see a snail for a fleeting moment of its life, and theirs – but have you ever wondered just how long those home-carrying creatures really live for? The answer might actually surprise you!
How Long Do Snails Live?
Most land snails live for 2 or 3 years but it can be up to 10 years. Lifespan differ depending on the species, habitat, and many more variables. Larger species are said to live for longer than smaller ones, but that’s not always the case. Land snails tend to live for longer than their water-dwelling counterparts, too. (There are exceptions to that rule, also.)
Some scientists argue that in perfect conditions, with no predators, some species of gastropod could actually live for more than two decades.
It is even thought that some of the larger species of sea-dwelling mollusks could even live for many decades, and even perhaps more than a century?
How Long Does a Common Garden Snail Live?
It is thought that most common garden snails, also known scientifically as Cornu aspersum or Helix aspersa, can live for up to five years in ideal conditions. They usually live for two to three years in the wild, but some have been dated to six or seven years old.
Apple snails, sometimes known as Roman snails, have been found aged six, seven, eight years and more.
The common periwinkle snail can reportedly live for up to ten years!
On the far end of the scale, a conch snail can live up to thirty years.
The older snails get, the harder their shell becomes. Because of this, they tend to be less vulnerable as grown adults. If they make it to large, adult stage, they are strong enough to ward off some predators and survive for longer.
How Long Do Snails Live as Pets?
It is thought that snails do much better in captivity than in the wild, but only when the conditions are absolutely perfect for them.
In the ‘wild’ a snail might only live for a couple of years, at most, because of the many different predators it has, how fragile its shell can be, how much food is available, and several other factors. Rats and other vermin, as well as other small mammals, birds, and even humans prey on snails. It’s not like they can easily run away, is it?
In captivity, the snail doesn’t have to deal with any of those things. The conditions are specifically set by the snail’s needs, which is what offers it the best chance at a long life.
Very few animals do better in captivity than they do in the wild, but this is one of them.
How to Tell How Old a Snail Is
You can actually tell how old a snail is in the same way you can tell the age of a tree: by looking at the number of rings it has on the shell. This is how experts date gastropods. They grow extra shell rings with each year that passes.
How Old is the Oldest Snail?
Although a clam rather than a snail, Ming still comes from the mollusk family. Ming is the name of a 405- to 507-year-old quahog clam from Icelandic coastal waters. Scientists can’t seem to agree on the exact date, but the 2006 find was dated by the many rings it had on its shell.
Poor Ming couldn’t be gender determined. Although, considering the clam was around four to five hundred years old, you can forgive it for having a literal “spent” reproductive state.