MV Blog


Snail of a surprise

by Jessie
Publish date
23 November 2010
Comments (4)

A couple of weeks ago, an ex staff member of the museum dropped off some interesting snails that could work well in Bugs Alive!, our display of invertebrates at the museum. Amongst the collection was a moderate sized land snail that looked remarkably like a Giant African Land Snail.

Giant African Land Snails are one of the biggest potential agricultural pests for Australia. In the 1970s they entered Australia and were found in Queensland. Australia managed to eradicate them from the environment this time, but the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) continue to be vigilant to stop them from getting across our border again. Although they originate from Africa they are now a pest species all over the world. Close to home they are found on Pacific islands where they have overrun some of the local land snails leading them to become endangered (as well as introducing carnivorous snails to eat the Giant African Land Snail but they enjoyed the taste of the local snails more – but that is another story...).

  Pygmipanda automata This moderate size land snail looked far too much like a Giant African Land Snail to not have checked out by the experts.
Image: Adnan Moussalli
Source: Museum Victoria

My story stems from the fact that on my desk turned up this interesting looking snail. I was immediately alerted to action to get this snail checked out. I left the Live Exhibits department and ventured up to Sciences where I spoke to Adnan, the resident snail expert of the museum. He was not only interested in this snail but also the bundle of other snails that came along with the package – including carnivorous snails who had eaten their house mates and a Snug – what looks like a cross between a snail and a slug.

Carnivorous Snail Hard to believe - but there are snails around that are carnivores. This snail came to us in en enclosure with two empty snail shells - it had a feast in transit.
Image: Adnan Moussalli
Source: Museum Victoria

Snug This amazing group of animals, which we have fondly called Snugs, have been kept in captivity by Live Exhibits for a number of years.
Image: Adnan Moussalli
Source: Museum Victoria

It did not take Adnan long to coax the snail out of its shell and confirm that it was just a very interesting local snail called Pygmipanda automata. It has now become a resident of the Melbourne Museum and we can use it for public programs and display. Australia is full of amazing snails that are so rarely seen by many people. Their tendency to venture out when it is dark and wet when we are all tucked up in bed means they are rarely spotted.  

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.