Friday, July 22, 2011

Snails That Don't Crawl, Tube Snails, Worm Snails or "Vampire Vermetids"

Do you see the mucus net coming from the
tube opening to the bottom right of the picture?
Not all snails are able to crawl about. These snails look like tube worms, but are actually tube snails (sometimes called worm snails as well). Tube snails glue their shells to the rocks and then put out  a mucus net to feed. The net catches food particles that float through the water.  These particles are tiny pieces of bacteria and organic substances that make the water not quite clear.  So, more tube snails means clearer water! Periodically, the snails ingest both the mucus (gross!) and food, then begin the cycle over again.

While most tube snails glue themselves to rocks or other hard surfaces, some are colonial and can create reefs out of their intertwining tubes. The tube snail in our touch tank has found a home on in the middle of the raised platform and is not attached to any rocks, make sure you look for it the next time you are on island!

Our own tube snail poking his head
out of the tube.
Mark mentioned to that the sharp little openings to their shells are known for taking small chunks out of your feet if you walk on the rocks bare foot. Since their scientific name is Vermetid (ver me tid) snails, researcher friends of his referred to them as "vampire vermetids," from all the blood they lost to these little animals.

Pretty interesting creatures, aren't they?

Sarah S.

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