“African Giant Snails (Achatina fulica), the largest species of land snails, are hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive organs. Although capable of self-fertilisation, such instances are rare. I chanced upon a mating pair this morning, surprisingly on a sunny grassy patch around noon, and was intrigued to watch as white protrusions emerged from the right side of each snail’s ‘neck’ and connected with each other.
“These are everted penises as I later found out. They detached as I approached nearer for a closer shot (top and above) Picture below shows a close up of the genital pore, and the retracted penis, which was ‘reabsorbed’ into the snail and disappeared entirely in a matter of seconds.
“I also just found out that land snails have a complex reproductive system LINK, and that part of the mating process involves shooting ‘love darts’ or ‘gypsobelum’ into each other LINK and LINK! All so fascinating, I will now try to find a snail with an embedded love dart!
“Here’s a video of the snails after mating, one trying to re-engage the other unsuccessfully:
In the end, they each went on their own separate ways.
“…one never knows what one will stumble upon on a casual nature ramble. Nature is a truly great teacher.”
28th December 2013