13 May 2010

Ventridens ligera on a box

There aren't very many eastern North American land snails that regularly climb trees or other tall plants and the few species that do so usually return to the ground once their feeding is over. In this recent post, I wrote about an individual of Anguispira fergusoni, a species that routinely climbs trees, that had become dormant on a tree.

Ventridens ligera, a very common snail of eastern North America, sometimes climbs trees and at least once I have seen a dormant individual on a tree.

Last Saturday while looking for snails to photograph in Great Falls Park in Virginia, I came upon a large, mysterious metal box in a clearing in the woods. It was locked, so I have no idea if there was anything in it.

On one of the upper corners of the box I saw a dormant Ventridens ligera ~50 cm above the ground. The snail's body was visible about a quarter of a whorl behind the aperture.

When a snail becomes dormant against a surface, it normally positions its shell so that the aperture will be against the surface. This provides some protection against intruders that might otherwise attempt to enter the shell via the aperture. It also slows down water loss from the snail's body, especially if the aperture is sealed to the surface with mucus. The peculiar thing about this Ventridens was that it was attached to the surface sideways and its aperture was completely open.

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