WTF Fun Fact 12751 – Snails Can Sleep For 3 Years

You know have knowns snails live their lives at a leisurely pace, but snails can actually sleep for three years at a time!

They’re also hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female reproductive organs, so they don’t even need other snails to mate. They are the ultimate hermits.

But those three-year naps aren’t necessarily a good thing (no matter how comforting they might sound to your right now).

Snails sleep longest in summer

Some snail hibernation is called “estivation.” Hibernation is something that happens when animals sleep to conserve energy in the winter. Snails also sleep in the summer – that’s estivation. Snails can actually do both, but it mostly depends on species or geography (nevertheless, it’s still a skill we’re jealous of).

But why do snails sleep for three years?

Well, not all do. In fact, a three-year estivation typically occurs when the snail’s resources are so depleted that it’s either sleep-or-die. (Yes, we know how relatable this sounds – especially if you have little ones.)

A gooey slumber

Even if snails are estivating for much shorter periods of time, they secrete mucus that covers their whole bodies if the weather is too hot or dry. The mucus helps to protect them from hot or dry weather.

Snails need moisture to survive, so they just provide their own!

Of course, a gooey nap doesn’t protect them from predators thinking they’re dead.

Snail power naps

Snails usually sleep for about 15 hours at a time and then are awake for 30 hours. But that’s under optimal environmental conditions (which are kind of hard to come by these days, no matter what your species.)

This kind of sounds like a productive schedule, if we’re being honest. (Or maybe we could just use a very alert 30 hours to get our work done.)

Beware the sleeping snail

If you think a snail is dead, consider that it may just be taking a power nap. This is especially the case if you keep a snail as a pet. If it is stuck to the side of an aquarium but not moving, it’s likely still alive because it’s secreting mucus to make it stick.

Pet snails are unlikely to hibernate for years (mostly because if humans are providing suboptimal conditions, it’s likely bad enough to just kill the snail).

If the snail’s body is shriveled and dry (if you can see into the shell), then the snail is almost certainly dead (sorry for your loss).

And if you see a snail in the garden, well, that’s up to you and how much you want them around, but crushing it because you think it’s dead could be a deadly mistake for the snail.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Let’s Learn Exactly How Some Snails Sleep” — AZ Pet Vet


Share this fact:  

Leave a Comment