Snail and Slug Dissection

How to prepare the animal for dissection

Live specimens should be drowned in an airtight container that is completely filled with water. The animal should be left until completely drowned (i.e., unresponsive to touch). This will make it easier to dissect the specimen, as it kills the animal in an extended state (not contracted). Small snails may also be euthanized by emersion in boiling water. Specimens usually expire in a relaxed state and should be removed from boiling water when no longer responsive to touch.

The specimen should then be transferred to a dissecting dish containing 70 % ethanol or water. The solution should completely cover the specimen to minimize dehydration of the tissues. The dissecting dish should then be mounted onto the stage of the microscope and the dissection conducted under at least 10 X magnification.

Dissecting microscope
Dissecting dish
Dissecting scissors
4-inch C-clamp or small vice grip (optional)
70 % Ethanol (optional)
Curved forceps (optional)
# 4 stainless steel insect pins (optional)

** Specimens should never be left in water for extended periods as rapid deterioration of tissues may occur.
*For photographing purposes, it is best that all organs be fully submerged. In order to optimize the quality of the photograph, ethanol should be used, as the animal will float in water.