The David Attenborough Snail


Photo: Simon Grove/ Australian Museum


Photo: James Morgan

This beautiful Tasmanian snail Attenborougharion rubicundus was named in honour of Sir David Attenborough. This colourful semi-slug’s usual habitat is restricted to a small area of south-east Tasmania in wet forests on the Tasman and Forestier peninsulas. The species was first described in 1978 and classified in the genus, Helicarion. However, recent work by the Australian Museum scientists have shown it is a separate genus.

This is the first genus to be named after Sir David who already has been named in 12 species.

During this visit to Sydney in early February, 2017, he was honoured by being named patron of Australia’s first museum, The Australian Museum.

Some beautiful helicarionids from eastern Australia

Here are some of our beautiful helicarionids [semi-slugs and glass snails] from eastern Australia.

L to R: Thularion semoni, Mt Sorrow, Queensland. J. Stanisic; Mysticarion porrectus, Point Lookout, NE New South Wales. Photo: Fran Guard; Macularion albimaculosa, Lamington, South Queensland. Photo: IBISCA; Parmavitrina megastoma, east of Tenterfield, eastern, New South Wales. Photo: Jan White.

Aussie land snails won’t eat your garden!

Most people’s first interaction with snails and slugs is of those that are eating their plants, their crops or the vegetables in their garden. Sometimes, the culprits can’t be found as these animals, often slugs, bury themselves in the soil during the day and only come out when conditions are more favourable at night.

Our native snails are NOT vegetarian. They eat fungi, micro-algae on the leaves of plants and biofilm on most surfaces. Some are carnivorous and will even follow the slime trail of other snails to have a feast.

 The major problems in our backyard gardens are two species:

  • The common garden snail or European Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum,  which 2014-10-01 12.21.35is related to the ones that are eaten there in huge quantities. These can, with careful preparation, be eaten also but are farmed at the Glasshouse Mountains at Glasshouse Gourmet Snails.
  • The Asian Tramp Snail, Bradybaena similaris which is serious vine and market asian-tramp-snailgarden pest, has become well-established in eastern Australia.
Giant Panda live shot
Our largest land snail, the Giant Panda Snail (Hedleyella falconeri), happily searching for food in the rainforest. It won’t eat your garden.

A slimy solution

Snail Slime, the latest cosmetic treatment

Snail slime was once used as medicine from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages -internally against gastrointestinal ulcers and in the form of syrup to soothe a cough.

Nowadays, it is considered to have healing properties and works wonders on scar tissue. Even the snail farm people at the Glasshouse Mountains’ snSnails at nightail farm would agree. It is considered an excellent cosmetic treatment for the skin as can be read in this article.

Of course, snails have much better uses for slime, one of which is to help keep their bodies moist. Find out more