On the Trail of a Snail
A snail can move on its slime film because the secretion changes between liquid and solid depending on the type of stress. Thanks to the viscoelastic properties of the mobile mat, the animals perform spectacular tricks.
Snails may be slow moving, but they overcome almost every barrier. They scale vertical walls, glide over smooth or sharp-edged surfaces and can even crawl upside down to almost anywhere. They leave clear traces in the form of mucus. They move on it and it makes their bodies so slippery that they can hardly be grasped.
The animals shed the pad as needed along their foot, which runs along the entire ventral side. This is how they create their own road surface in a unique way. He makes them largely independent of the actual substrate, be it twigs, leaves, sandy soil, spider webs or window panes. Snails fix the secretion on any natural material, and even artificial superhydrophobic surfaces slow them down with difficulty. The thin coating with a thickness of just a few tens of micrometers even bridges gaps. If the gap is too big, the animals turn the slime into a thread that they simply rappel down.
All this proves: The slime not only enables extremely good gliding, but it is also tear-resistant, load-bearing and similarly stable as an elastic solid …