Everything you never wanted to know about snail sex

4 minutes

Slime trails and ‘love darts’ – on the strange, slow skirmishes of snail sex

Motherhood is a difficult proposition – a reality that no creature manifests better than the snail. The hermaphroditic gastropod much prefers the relative freedom of fatherhood to the burden of carrying eggs, so their sexual encounters are less romance, more strategy. While the snails both use their penises to swap sperm, they both also have a ‘love dart’ with which to stab each other before sex, injecting hormones to help one’s sperm survive over the other’s. This short from KQED’s science documentary series Deep Look give a close-up, ultra-HD and immensely slimy look at one of nature’s most unusual mating practices. You can read more about the video at the KQED Science website.

Video by KQED Science and PBS Digital Studios

Producer: Elliott Kennerson

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Get Aeon straight
to your inbox
Join our newsletter Sign up
Follow us on
Going nowhere fast

After the success of the Standard Model, experiments have stopped answering to grand theories. Is particle physics in crisis?

Ben Allanach

Space Exploration
What if ET is an AI?

After centuries searching for extraterrestrial life, we might find that first contact is not with organic creatures at all

Caleb Scharf