Helix pomatia has a mate-selection process in which they court each other for several hours. The mates they ultimately select are usually not from different locations.
The mating process occurs in five steps: (1) With their heads up, snails circle each other and feel one another with their tentacles. (2)After becoming stimulated, one of the snails injects a calcareous “love-dart” into the sole of the other snail. Once it becomes exhausted, the other snail does the same thing. (3)After resting, they align in such a way that their genital openings overlap. This act further stimulates the snails. (4)The two snails twist their bodies around one another so that the penis and vagina are connected. One snail receives a spermatophore in a process that takes four to seven minutes. (5)In the final stage, the penis is removed. However, the two snails can remain attached with their feet together for several hours.
Snails can undergo the aforementioned mating ritual up to two times a year. However, if they live in a densely populated area, mating activity is reduced because the increased slime secretion suppresses reproduction. ("All You Need to Know About Snails", 2007; "Helix Pomatia", 2007; Fretter and Peake, 1975; U.S Department of Agriculture, 1996)
Mating System: Polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Mating in Helix pomatia usually takes place among mature snails in the late spring and early summer, but can occur as last as October. After fertilization occurs, the snails can deposit anywhere from eight to thirty eggs. Sexual maturity is reached in two to four years. ("Helix Pomatia", 2007; Fretter and Peake, 1975; U.S Department of Agriculture, 1996)
Key Reproductive Features: Seasonal breeding; Simultaneous hermaphrodite; Sexual; Fertilization; Fertilization :: Internal; Oviparous
Two to six times per year
From late spring into early fall
Helix pomatia typically selects a light, moist, deep soil in order to ensure that its eggs fully develop. After laying their eggs in a hole, which can take 15-20 minutes per egg, they cover them with a mixture of slime and soil. No other direct parental care is provided. (U.S Department of Agriculture, 1996)
Parental Investment: No parental involvement; Pre-hatching/birth; Pre-hatching/birth :: Protecting; Pre-hatching/birth :: Protecting :: Male; Pre-hatching/birth :: Protecting :: Female
- Fretter, V., J. Peake. 1975. Pulmonates, Volume I. London: Academic Press.