Pinwheel Snails [Charopidae]

Caramel-flamed Pinwheel Snail


Macleayropa boonanghi Image: John Stanisic

The Charopidae [Pinwheel Snails] is a family of tiny snails of Gondwanan origin widely distributed on land masses in the Southern Hemisphere [Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America] and some Pacific islands.

The Charopidae is the most diverse family of land snails in eastern Australia and comprises some of Australia’s smallest land snails. Shells are generally minute to very small (1.5mm-7mm in diameter) and, in most species, discoidal in shape, often  biconcave, less commonly trochoidal, turbinate or subglobose.

The spire is usually flat, sunken or slightly raised and occasionally dome-shaped and conical. Most species have rounded whorls.

Shells may be tightly coiled or have fewer and more rapidly increasing whorls and occasionally, the last whorl may be large and flared. Sutures vary from barely impressed to deeply channeled.

The aperture is usually roundly lunate and without barriers although some species may bear one to several palatal, parietal or columellar barriers.

The lip is simple. The umbilicus is usually open and can vary from pinhole size to very wide saucer-shaped.

The shell sculpture of Charopids is complex and normally consists of a combination of fine and coarse spiral chords and radial ribs. There is usually sculptural differentiation between the protoconch and teleoconch with a marked break between the two.

Animal colour varies between white, grey-brown to black. One exception is Pseudocharopa whiteleggei from Lord Howe Island, which features a bright lime-green foot.

Australian charopids are thought to be herbivorous feeding on decaying leaves, fungi and biofilm on hard surfaces. They are considered litter dwellers but many favour living on the underside of logs and occasionally rocks, while arboreal species live under bark on tree trunks and logs.

Featured Pinwheel Snails

  • Goodnight Scrub Pinwheel Snail
  • Clark Range Pinwheel Snail
  • Chamber’s Pinwheel Snail
  • Conway Range Pinwheel Snail
  • Jan’s Pinwheel Snail
  • Offord’s Pinwheel Snail
  • Caramel-flamed Pinwheel Snail
  • Golden Goblet Pinwheel Snail
  • Whitsunday Pinwheel Snail
  • Coarse-ribbed Pinwheel Snail
  • Delicate-ribbed Pinwheel Snail
  • Hamilton Island Pinwheel Snail



Goodnight Scrub Pinwheel Snail Gyrocochlea goodnight Image: John Stanisic