Posted By Lauriel O. Posted On

People Are Shocked After Seeing Viral Video of How Slugs ‘Drink Water’ – Here’s What Actually Happens

The question of how a slug or snail drinks water was recently raised online by TikToker ‘@cirruslyyesterday’, who shared a video of herself looking somewhat disturbed while announcing that she just learned how a snail (it was actually a slug) drinks water, and that she will ‘never be the same’. Here’s a video similar to the original video that made her pass out (well, almost):

Whether a snail or slug, what happened to the creature in this clip definitely comes as a surprise, as upon reaching the water the creature seemed to absorb the entire droplet in one go, while at the same time apparently swallowing up its own head and antenna.

Responding to the TikTok video, one user wrote they disputed the video, claiming they own a snail and “this isn’t how they drink”, but rather the clip showed a snail that “didn’t know the water was there and got scared”.

So what’s the truth? How do snails (and slugs for that matter) drink?

Well, apparently snails “drink” in a way that is totally different from ours, a rather fascinating one for that matter. Although they can also drink through their mouths, through their evolution they came up with a method to do it a much more efficient method called contact-rehydration – alright, they didn’t name it that, but it really works. It takes place through the skin. When a snail needs a “drink”, they flatten themselves against the water and absorb it through their cells.

Researcher D.J. Prior studied this phenomenon by adding an extra-cellular marker named “inulin” to the water to trace how the water is absorbed. Unexpectedly, the inulin was absorbed with the water – a result implying that the snails were not taking up water through the process of osmosis (the main way in which water travels in and out of cells by a process whereby water diffuses through a semipermeable membrane).

What is more, the research also showed that snails (and slugs) even changed the permeability of their skin. This means that when a snail is ready to “drink”, it broadens the space in between its cells to allow for room water to pour in. And by absorbing water in-between cells rather than through them, snails are able to absorb much larger amounts of water in a shorter time.

And they definitely need that extra moisture!