Photo: Brian Hawkins
Found by Brian Hawkins of ABRS Bush Blitz, this beautiful semi-slug [F. Helicarionidae] was found in the Brindabella Ranges.
The Brindabella Range, commonly called The Brindabellas, is a mountain range located in Australia, on a state and territory border that separates New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
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 is 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 garden pest, has become well-established in eastern Australia.
- Our largest land snail, the Giant Panda Snail (Hedleyella falconeri), happily searching for food in the rainforest. It won’t eat your garden.
Australian land snails are almost always dextral i.e. they have a right hand opening. A few rare species are sinistral [left hand opening]
Common form with right hand opening:
Rarer left hand opening:
Border Ranges Staircase-snail
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’ snail 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
Find an Australian native land snail. It is not the one in your vegetable garden as our native snails do not eat vegetables. Find snails, semi-slugs and slugs in:
- Tropical rainforests
- Subtropical rainforests
- Dry rainforests
- Temperate rainforests
- Eucalypt forests and woodland communities
- Native grasslands
- Limestone outcrops
- Other rocky outcrops
Make a poster showing its common name and its scientific name, a picture of the snail and some information you have researched about the snail.
Find information on more common land snails here. If you are having trouble naming your snail, please email a photo and tell him where you found the snail. The Snail Whisperer will help.
Email your poster to the Snail Whisperer. Successful Junior Snail Whisperer’s work will be posted here. Each Junior Snail Whisperer will receive an email reply and certificate from the Snail Whisperer himself.
A group of Year 7 students at Samford State School have been learning about native snails in their local area. Mt Glorious in South-east Queensland.
They have developed dichotomous keys. Here’s the key for the Richmond River Keeled Snail, Thersites richmondiana
See how well they work.
The Snail Whisperer joined a group of scientists on the Bush Blitz at Carnarvon Station this week. Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery project.
Early indications are that at least 6 new species of land snails have been discovered during the survey.
One of the new species-Simon Hudson’s Woodland Snail (Pallidelix simonhudsoni Stanisic, 2015)
Read Alison Wilson’s story of the fun they had collecting snails and finding new species. Alison and Chris are the managers of Carnarvon Station Reserve
Watch this space for more!
Snails are born with rudimentary shells. On land snails, this embryonic shell can be seen even in the adult snail. The top of the shell [about one and a half whorls] is called the Protoconch and this has a different pattern from the rest of the shell. It is often used to help identify species of snail.
The protoconch is easily visible even on this tiny pinwheel snail from eastern Australia
Snails have thousands of teeth which are used for scraping or cutting food. The teeth are arranged in rows on a chitinous ribbon and together form the radula. A typical radula may have 120 rows of 100 teeth i.e. around 12 000 teeth, though some species may have more than 20 000 teeth. The arrangement and shape of teeth varies from family to family. FIND MORE in ‘Snail Facts’
Ivory Treesnail (Noctepuna cerea)
Land snails are important environmental indicators and biodiversity predictors and have a role to play in the monitoring of climate change. Their conservation should be a HIGH priority.