Have you ever wondered why snails appear out of thin air when it rains? It usually happens at the onset of the monsoon season. All of a sudden, you see hordes of them coming out of nowhere.
They are in your backyard, on your fences, in the balconies, and god forbid if they have found the luxury atop your kitchen sink. I pray that is not the case here.
So, why do these snails come out when it rains?
Let’s find out.
Why Do Snails Come Out When It Rains?
Snails can sense water in the air, which is why they wake up and come out if they are in hibernation. Also, they need to constantly produce a certain slime that helps in locomotion, resulting in water loss. So, they will come out during rainfall to recuperate from dehydration.
Although terrestrial snails do not require to wet themselves 24/7 like the aquatic ones, they are still highly dependent on water.
In fact, water makes up more than 80% of a snail’s body.
Snails secrete slime, a thick fluid that helps them crawl from one place to another. They use it to coat the opening of their shell’s aperture to prevent the entry of bacteria and harmful pathogens.
So, in order to compensate for the extensive amount of water expended in producing this fluid, snails will come out of hiding to rehydrate their body when it rains.
Let’s have a closer look at all the reasons why snails come out when it rains.
Snails Need To Keep Their Body Moist
A human body comprises about 60% water, and a snail’s is about 80%. So losing too much water too quickly can make their body wither, leading to death.
This is why snails constantly secrete slime to keep their body moist. They need to reach water resources or get exposed to water to replenish the moisture lost during slime creation. Thus, they come out when it rains to keep their body moist.
Snails Like Humidity But They Hate It If Is Too Dampish
Although it might sound contradictory, snails will come out of their hiding place and move to spots with less rainfall.
Snails need to maintain the right amount of moisture in their body. So when they feel extra sticky, you can find them climbing trees or the fences to expel their body moisture. Doing such strenuous activities will secrete excess water in the form of slime.
It is a known fact that snails absorb water through their permeable skin. So, when it rains, the humidity rises, and the water will involuntarily enter the snail’s body, raising the water content. Consequently, the snail will have to relocate to a less-humid area.
And this is why you see snails relocating when it rains.
When It Rains, A Snail’s Home Gets Flooded
Yes, a snail’s shell is indeed its home. But here, I am talking about the hideouts where it lounges most of the time.
The water will creep through and flood the snail’s living space when it rains. If the snail doesn’t relocate soon, it can drown.
Unlike aquatic snails with gills, the terrestrial ones rely on their lungs for breathing. And there’s a small hole at the bottom of their shell from where they intake air.
And when it rains cats and dogs, the air isn’t the only element that passes through this hole. Water also seeps inside involuntarily.
And when it’s flooded, the submerged snail will not have any vent to breathe through, causing its death within a few minutes.
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The Dark Clouds Can Make Snails Think It Is Already Dark
When it is about to rain, the clouds turn gray. Then since the sun is out of sight and snails are nocturnal, they will head out from hiding and begin their activity.
They will venture out during midday since they mistakenly think it is night. This is why you see lots of snails when it is raining.
Rain Eases A Snail’s Mobility
Normally, snails have trouble moving on the tarmac or the concrete surface. Even if they walk on such surfaces, they will have to invest huge amounts of slime, dehydrating their bodies.
So, the downpour makes the hard surfaces wet and eases snails’ mobility. As a result, we often see snails crawling in a queue on asphalts after the rain stops.
Rain Is The Alarm Clock For Hibernating Snails
Snails in hibernation will only wake up when the temperature and the humidity are in their favor. And this usually happens during monsoon season, as it brings along everything snails love.
Snails go into hibernation when it’s too cold. They also go into aestivation, the summer hibernation, when it’s too hot, which dries up their body.
So, when it rains, snails automatically know that this is their wake-up call to be out and about yet again.
Rain is the harbinger of food snails love. The plants grow new leaves and flowers that snails feed on.
There are plenty of insects to eat for the omnivore snails once it rains. These are the reasons why you see snails after it rains.
Monsoon Is The Mating Season For Snails
Monsoon is the mating period for snails. Some snails can breed on their own, while some need partners. Irrespective of how they mate, both parties reproduce when it pours.
Snails require a humid and warm environment to lay their eggs. And when it rains during summer, the climate is perfect for them to breed.
Terrestrial snails will search for soil moist enough for them to dig, and only will they lay eggs. Also, the rainfall makes the soil damp enough to lay their eggs.
This explains why you see lots of snails in your surroundings.
Because They Haven’t Eaten In A While
Snails love slight drizzles, but the heavy downpour affects their living conditions. So they will stay cozy in their hiding place during heavy rainfall, waiting for the rain to stop.
And definitely, they will be hungry because they haven’t eaten for a while due to heavy rain.
Once the rain stops, they will embark in search of food.
Snails Feel Safe From Predators When It Rains
Owing to their incredibly slow speed, no wonder snails are wary about their safety at all times. But there are a handful of times snails can freely roam without the threat from predators. One of them is when it rains.
Land carnivores and the birds of prey that eat snails also take shelter when it rains. So, snails come out when it rains since it feels safe.
Snails must maintain water content in their body at all times. The fact that they rely heavily on water to produce slime is why they yearn for rain. So it is natural for snails to come outside when it rains.
Many of us think the proximate cause, like meeting the body’s water demand, is the reason behind a snail coming out when it rains. However, that is not all.
Snails also come out to avoid drowning, flooding, and reducing excess water content from their body.
So, the answer to why do snails come out when it rains can vary depending upon the circumstance a snail is in.