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.  

Comments (4)

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april margieson 9 November, 2012 08:32
I have found four slugs like in the picture above only mine have nodules on their bodies it is fascinating to watch them cover their shells with their body and the nodules become exposed. mine came in a cabbage which I kept in the fridge for 2 weeks before I found them so they have been going from fridge to room since I found them as I don't know how to look after them properly so they will survive. they came from rainforest on a friends property where he gardens. I don't want to put them in the yard as I am afraid magpies will get them. Do they have a name and do you have any advice on keeping them. all they have had to eat is the cabbage and filtered water. Their slime is very soothing and not at all like snails which is icky, it is absorbed into the skin if you rub your hands together has no odour and I am thinking of testing it on my face to see what effect it has. But before I do I would like to know could they have germs? they are also assorted colours i am fascinated with them.
nicola 30 December, 2012 19:35
I have giant land snails and found they have layed eggs do I need to remove the eggs from the tank with the adults. Please help
Discovery Centre 4 January, 2013 12:25
Hi Nicola - We’re not sure which species you have, but snails tend to bury their eggs and therefore the eggs are protected from the activities of the adults. The snails themselves are also in the best position to choose a suitable place for egg laying, so if possible it’s best to leave them in place. However, if the eggs have been uncovered, it would be best to rebury them or move them to another enclosure and bury them under similar conditions.
Robin 4 February, 2013 23:10
Foothills of Blue Mts..NSW I have come across snails (Helix aspersa) today which have lost the thin outer coating of their shells and appear to be sick. One was actually recently dead ie it looked as though it had been 'cooked'and this must only have happened a few hours before I saw it on a spot I had passed in the morning. The weather here has been wet, cold (about 16C) then milder today (about 22C); 8 days before we had temperatures of 46C and high humidity. I am going to carry out a survey across my garden and check others. Has anyone else seen this condition?
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