The Roman Snail And its Relatives

Identification by Shell characters

Shell characters that can be used for identification purposes.

Roman Snail: Helix pomatia Linnaeus 1758


 Helix pomatia

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Place of Origin: Switzerland, Les Diablerets, in grass after rain. Summer 2001.
Source of Shell: conchology.be.

Dimensions:
Height: 30 – 50 mm.

Description:
Spherical bulbous shell with 5 - 6 rounded whorls. Aperture rim rounded and curved back to form an apertural lip. Umbilicus tiny, covered by columellar apertural lip. Shell creamy white in colour, dark longitudinal band sometimes hardly visible. Shell surface with distinct lateral growth stripes.

Habitat:
An inhabitant of open hedges, bushes and forest rims on ground rich in lime. Avoids exposed areas strongly shone by the sun and dark forest areas. Sometimes synanthropic in gardens and farms, also rarely in vineyards. In the Alps as occurring as high as 2000 m above sea level.

Distribution:
Central and Southeast Europe: From Central France and Southern England in the West as far as Belarus and Western Ukraine in the East, Northern Italy in the South, Macedonia in the Southeast.

 

Turkish Snail: Helix lucorum Linnaeus 1758


 Helix lucorum, dark variety.

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Place of Origin: Turkey, Trabzon Vilayet, Sumelas Manastyr (Macka), May 1992.
Source of shell: conchology.be


 Helix lucorum, pale variety.
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Source of shell: German Institute for Heliciculture.

Dimensions:
Width: 45 – 55 mm.
Height: 30 – 60 mm.

Description:
Shell depressedly spherical in shape with blunt apex. Aperture slightly flattened and laterally oblique, no clear apertural lip, aperture rim folded back over the small umbilicus in the columellar area. Shell surface granular and finely striped. Base colour whitish yellow with broad dark bands on almost all the whorl's width.

Habitat:
Bushes, open forests and agricultural areas. Active usually only in the night and after rain, dug into the ground during dry periods.

Distribution:
Eastern Mediterranean: From Italy (Western Apennine) over the Central Balkan including Southern Romania and Bulgaria, Albania and Thrace as far as Asia Minor and the Eastern Black Sea region.

Remark:
Sold as "Escargot Turc" (Turkish Snail). Giant varieties from Turkey (H. lucorum taurica) are used for cultivation.

 

Brown Garden Snail: Cornu aspersum (O.F. Müller 1774)


 Cornu aspersum, dark variety.

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Place of Origin: Rhodes, Rhodes City, near the Acropolis, under stones and on plants. May 1998
Source of shell: conchology.be.


 Cornu aspersum, pale variety.

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Source of shell: German Institute for Heliciculture.

Dimensions:
Width: 25 – 40 mm.
Height: 25 – 30 mm.

Description:
Shell wall comparatively thin, spherical in form with strongly extended last whorl. Shell surface wrinkled network-like. Base colour yellowish brown with yellow zic-zac pattern. Apertural rim strongly extended and folded back to form a lip. Apertural lip distinctly white. Umbilicus usually covered by the columellar part of the apertural lip. Very variable in appearance.

Habitat:
Bushes, open forest, rocky steppes and sand hills. Often also in cultivated biotopes of all sorts (English: "garden snail").

Distribution:
All of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coastal area as far as the Netherlands and the British Isles. On the British Isles much more common than H. pomatia. In Germany introduced into the Upper Rhine Valley and in the Lower Rhine area. In Austria also introduced on cars (!). By food transports from the Mediterranean distributed almost world-wide, also in the United States and Australia, there sometimes regarded as a garden or agricultural pest.

Remark:
Other known systematic names are Helix aspersa und Cryptomphalus aspersus. According to CLECOM, though, Cornu aspersum (O.F. Müller 1774) is the valid and systematically correct name. Other opinions, for example, are published by Turner et al. (1998) and Giusti et al. (1996) (also see: "The Cornu Problem").

Literature:

Helix secernenda Rossmässler 1847


 Helix secernenda

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Source of shell: German Institute for Heliciculture.

Dimensions:
Width: 35 – 60 mm.
Height: 30 – 55 mm.

Description:
Shell with widely conical spire and blunt apex. Last whorl very wide and extended. Base colour yellowish brown or whitish with narrow bands. Third and fourth band separated distinctly far. Apertural rim little extended and blunt, in the columellar area often covering the closed umbilicus.

Habitat:
Usually in rocky biotopes, as high as 1600 m above sea level.

Distribution:
From the coastal area of Croatia over Dalmatia, the Dalmatian islands and Western Montenegro, as far as North-Western Albania. Exclusively in karst areas. More strongly ribbed race in a separated distribution area in Southern Albania, Northern Greece and on Corfu.

 

Green Snail: Cantareus apertus (Born 1778)


 Cantareus apertus

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Source of shell: German Institute for Heliciculture.

Dimensions:
Width: 20 – 25 mm.
Height: 20 – 25 mm.

Description:
Shell walls thin, shell spherical in form. Widely extended last whorl, larger than the remaining spire. Rather glossy shell, surface irregularly ribbed. Base colour olive green without recognisable bands. Umbilicus missing.

 
Cantareus apertus
. [RN]

Right: Close up view of Cantareus apertus. Well visible: The characteristic enamel layer in front of the aperture, as well as the missing umbilicus.

Habitat:
Macchia shrubs, field groves and vineyards.

Distribution:
France west of the Rhône mouth, Liguria, Tuscany and Southern Italy. Islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionic islands, Central Greece, Aegean islands, Cyprus, Mediterranean North Africa.

Remark:
Foot of the living snail very large compared to the shell, with two distinct dark longitudinal bands, bluish back stripe and flanks. During periods of dryness the animal aestivates dug into the ground. The snail's systematic name is because of the grunting sound it makes, when it is disturbed. In France this snail may only be picked for personal consumption.

 

Further Species in the Helix Genus.