Published: 00:00, 03 July 2014
| Updated: 15:14, 03 July 2014
Is this the year of the snail?
That’s the question Ted Prangnell, of Kennington, is asking after coming across around 50 Roman snails while out on a walk along the Downs near Charing.
He said: “The large Roman snail that I took the photograph of is supposed to be a rare creature, as in the past they were over-collected for eating. Perhaps they are now staging a comeback.”
Nature expert Owen Leyshon said: “All wild cabbages (crucifers) at present are covered in a range of snails, but Roman snails like this are more notable.”
Roman snails (helix pomatia) are used in French cuisine where it is called “escargot”. This species of snail is also known as Burgundy snail or Apple snail.
This snail is edible and highly valued. It has been farmed as part of an industry to supply restaurants around the world.
The Roman snail is classified as a terrestrial gastropod mollusc.
It is an air-breathing land snail that has a creamy to light brown shell with darker brown bands. The shell is almost rounded with a width of 1.2 to 2ins and a height of 1.2 to 1.8ins.
“The large Roman snail that I took the photograph of is supposed to be a rare creature, as in the past they were over-collected for eating" -Ted Prangnell
They have a single lung and a muscular foot that helps with locomotion. The foot contracts to produce movement, and glands within it release a mucus that reduce friction with the underneath surface, reducing the risk of damaging their skin.
The trail of the Roman snail can be easily followed because they leave behind a mark of slime, which actually is the mucus produced by the foot to ease the movement.
When a helix pomatia moves above dry surfaces, it tends to reduce the foot contact to avoid the loss of water.
The snails are usually active during night time, but they can be out on a rainy day or early in the morning, especially on cloudy days.
It is a native of Europe and is mainly found in countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Romania, Sweden, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and Luxembourg.
But they have also been moved by humans to most continents. In the Americas there is a huge industry of snail farming.
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