Believe it or not, a snail's shell is actually a part of its body. The snail is attached to its shell, and so it cannot ever "leave" or "take off" its shell. (Turtles and their shells are the same way.).
Tiny baby snails are actually born with their shells, although the shell is delicate and not very strong yet. Baby snails need lots of calcium to help them strengthen their shell, and so the first thing they eat upon being born is actually the calcium-rich shell they emerged from!
As a snail grows, its shell grows with it. Have you ever looked up close at a snail's shell and noticed the way it has coils and rings? New coils are added as the snail and its shell get bigger. Because of this, counting the rings helps scientists know the age of a snail!
Having a shell is helpful to snails. A snail's body is very fragile, but their hard shell offers them stronger protection from birds who may want a snack, or sneakers that might not see the snail crossing the sidewalk! Snails can also retreat into their shells to avoid heat and sun that might threaten to dry out their moist bodies. Plus, snails are known for being pretty slow, so running away from danger wouldn't be very easy. Instead, snails can curl up into their shells and hide!
Here are some other interesting things about snails that you might not know yet! In order to help them slither along, snails give off a wet, sticky substance to make sliding along the ground a slightly smoother experience! Have you ever seen some "snail goo" on the sidewalk or in your garden??
Snails are among some of the oldest creatures on Earth. They've been squirming around on our planet for millions and millions of years!!Did you know that lots of people actually cook and eat certain kinds of snails? One place where this is particularly popular is France. If you ever see escargot on a menu, that means snails!