‘Good God, I think it’s unfair. All those damned slimy things wandering about seducing each other like mad all over the bushes, and having the pleasures of both sensations. Why couldn’t such a gift be given to the human race? That’s what I want to know.’
~ Lawrence Durrell, on hearing how snails mated. And I got a photo this morning to prove it!
This is how it happens; they fire a dart of calcium into each other hard enough to push it through the skin. The calcium dart is coated with a hormone that prevents the sperm from being digested when the actual mating takes place. After this they feel each other up a little with their tentacles till the appropriate area (under the right eye) is stimulated. Each snail then injects sperm into the female part of the other. Oh, did I not tell you? Snails are hermaphrodites with both male and female organs fully working in every snail. When mating is done they each store the sperm till their eggs are ready to be fertilized.
(White calcium dart exchange, photo mine)
In the words of Durrell’s younger brother Gerald (whose books taught me all I know about sex by the way), they then walk away without so much as a nod or a thank you. Lucky molluscs!