Reproduction Helix pomatia is sexually mature after 2-4 years.Snails born early in the year can reach sexual maturity after two winters,later born snails after three. Like most of the otherlandsnails H.pomatia is hermaphrodite,meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs. Usually when mating though,one snail acts as a male and the other as a female. Hermaphroditic organs: Zd: Hermaphroditic gland; Zg: Hermaphoroditic duct; Bt: Fertilization pouch; Sod: Spermoviduct.
Female organs: Od: Oviduct; V: Vagina; FfD: Finger shaped glands; Rs: Receptaculum seminis; StR: Receptacle stalk, Pfs: Dart sac. Male organs: Sd: Spermiduct; Fl: Flagellum; Ep: Epiphallus; P: Penis.
Further organs: Ed: Albumen gland; A: Atrium.
The snails reproductive system has two parts,it is connected in the centre, the end leading outwards.The flagellum is male,the finger-shaped glands female. The hermaphroditic gland produces sperm and egg-cells.It is connected with the fertilization pouch.Both sperm- and egg cells leave the hermaphroditic gland in an unripe stage.The eggcells getting ripe on the way to the fertilization pouch,the sperm-cells not until later. A thick,white canal,the spermoviduct goes towards the end.An open groove connects the spermoviduct and oviduct.The spermoviduct goes towards the penis,the oviduct towards the vagina. During mating the penis extracts by bloodpressure,it withdraws with a penis retractor muscle.Sperm-cells are transferred in a spermatophore,which is produced in the flagellum,penis and epiphallus. The female organs consist of the vagina,the dart-sac which produces the love-dart. The function of the love-dart is transferring hormones which stimulate the reception of sperm-cells.Finger shaped glands lay behind the dart-sac.They excrete a sort of lubricant making it easier to push out the love dart and receive the penis. The vagina is connected to the receptaculum seminis,this stores the sperm cells after mating. When conditions are good sperm-cells find their way through the vagina and oviduct to the fertilization pouch.There they fertilize the eggs.The albumen gland coates the eggs.
Helix pomatia usually reproduce in the months Mei-July,and sometimes in August. The mating ritual can last for hours,and takes place in five stages. The first being that the snails circle around eachother often with the front part of the body in the air.Then they touch eachother with their tentacles, and the front part of the sole. The second stage is the appearance of a,whitish,genital papilla on the right side of the head.This is pointed at the partner,after which there is usually a break of a couple of hours. The finger shaped glands produce a whitish sekretion,then the love-dart is being pushed in the left flank or the sole of the other animal. The active animal seems exhausted after this,while the other animal,the one who received the love dart,gets more excited. In other occasions,though,both snails eject a love dart,or no love-dart is produced. Stage three starts after a period of rest,the snails get more active a lay their bodies in such way that both genital pores are in the same place.Some attempts at mating follow,this is probably part of the mating ritual meant to arrouse the partners further. The next stage is the real mating,the soles are pressed together,the front of the bodies are twisted around eachother and the penis and the vagina are connected.The spermatophore is transferred, mostly only one snail receiving it. This takes about 4-7 minutes. The last stage is the separation of the animals,the penis is being withdrawn. But starts to roll up and unroll continuously probably causing the endthread of the spermatophore break more easily. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes.Both animals still having their footsoles together.They can stay in this position for a couple of hours.
After mating it takes 4-6 weeks for the snails to produce eggs.The ripe eggs are transported to the fertilization pouch.The sperm cells must go from the re- ceptaculum seminis,via the oviduct to the fertilization pouch. Eggs are usually laid between mid-June and mid-July,but in favourable conditions it can start in the beginning of July and last until August. The animals dig a hole in the earth,which is connected to the surface through a small tunnel. It is about 4-5 cm in diameter and lays circa 4-6 cm under the surface of the earth.The eggs are enveloped in a layer of slime preventing loss of moisture. About 40-60 eggs are laid.Each egg takes about 15-30 minutes to lay,so that it can take a whole day for a snail to lay all its eggs. The diameter of a egg is about 6 mm.The eggs hatch in 25-26 days,and depends ofcourse on temperature and humidity of the surroundings.The young snails stay in the hole for 8-10 days and eat the empty eggshells.Their shells have two whorls and are circa 3.5-4 mm high.After two seasons the snails can be sexually mature,but this takes usually three seasons.In the wild Helix pomatia can reach an age of 5 years,in captivity however they can easily reach the age of 10 or even older.