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CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Ramshorn Snail: Gyraulus parvus

Good Morning Watershed Explorers,

Today's critter spotlight is about the ramshorn or ram's horn snail. Take a look at the photo below and you will see where the name comes from.

There are about 700 species of aquatic snail in North America. Aquatic snails are either lunged or gilled. The ramshorn snail is lunged. It breathes using a lunglike organ and does not filter water through gills. This feature makes the ramshorn less susceptible to water pollution. Gilled snails tend to be less tolerant of pollutants because they are filtering water directly into their bodies through gills.

Most snails are herbivores and have a very neat adaptation called a radula. A radula is a very rough tongue that allows the snail to move slowly across various substrates while scraping food as it travels. Snails enjoy various types of plants, as well as algae for meals.

Ramshorn snails are freshwater snails. There are also many varieties of brackish or saltwater snails. Ramshorn snails can reach up to 3/4 of an inch in size. Snails are gastropods, gastro meaning stomach, and pod meaning foot. The reason for this name is that the snail's foot, which it uses to move is literally on the bottom of its belly!

Finding aquatic snail information can be quite difficult. Many of the varieties of freshwater snails in Rhode Island are invasive. This means that they did not originate in our state, but came from another area attached to boat bottoms. Invasive species can be very harmful to native ones. They drive out native species by eating their food and taking over their habitats. It is very important that boats are inspected when traveling from one water body to another to ensure that an invasive hitchhiker doesn't travel to where it doesn't belong.

I hope that you enjoyed learning a little about the ramshorn snail.

Happy Exploring this week,

Mrs. Morissette

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