X is for Xerosecta giustii
Xerosecta giustii is a rather pretty little snail that lives in Italy. Like many snails, it doesn’t have a common name. People just don’t notice snails usually, unless they are eating their gardens, in which case they kill them.
But snails, just like many other animals, are suffering in a more widespread way from human activity. Urbanisation, logging, fire, road building, recreation, landscape modification like drainage, agriculture… all these things all over the world are threatening snails as well. 22.9% of European snails are endangered.
Snails have been around longer than us, they are interesting creatures – most breathe air just as we do with their one lung and four noses. They are all hermaphrodites – they possess both male and female sex organs, although they have to find another snail to mate with. They secrete mucous to stop themselves drying out and as a surface to slide their ‘foot’ along. Snail trails and their general sliminess are the thing about snails that most people do not like. Apart from the fact they are partial to lettuce.
And it is true that most of them are not that beautiful, or cuddly. But still – they play a vital role in the ecosystem recycling nutrients. They provide much-needed food for small mammals and many birds. Without snails, some species of birds could die out. Some are already in trouble, thrushes for example – because people poison snails, and then the thrushes eat the poisoned snails, they die too.
This little snail is classified as Critically Endangered by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, due to the fact that is lives in such a small area, and this area suffers seasonal droughts, is overgrazed and subject to fire. They are also trampled by goats.
If you’d like to read more about this snail, click here: Arkive.
If you’d like to read about the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species, please click here: IUCN Red List.
If you’d like to blog hop to the next blog in the A-Z challenge, click here: A-Z Challenge.
Poem, illustration and blog © Liz Brownlee, please do not repost, you can link to it.
- Posted in: A-Z Blog Challenge 2012 - A-Z of Amazing threatened Animals!
- Tagged: animal, art, birds,, environment, nature, science, snail, sustainability
The snails in our small plot have conical shells, and on the rare occasions we find one above ground and try to catch it, it screws itself back under the soil in a flash.
So do they do that upside down, Liz?
I learned something new about snails, imagining their tiny lungs and multiple noses :0) I shall have a heart the next time I encounter a snail on my plants :0)
Aww… yes, all they want is a fresh bit of greenery to live on! I don’t know why they need quite so many noses… possibly something to do with all that slime… ahem…