Snail Identification

Asked September 17, 2018, 12:24 AM EDT

I have a tiny mystery multiplying in a pot of moss I'd like to discuss. Back in May I started growing carnivorous plants, and on a couple of occasions I found tiny black snails in the pots. I saved them and gave them a moss pot, looked them up, and found something similar (the Otway from Victoria Australia) that was carnivorous, which made some sense to me as these guys were hanging out with plants that catch bugs. I've maintained their care and their numbers have grown to about 10 to 12 at least. I've found individual babies a couple of times in the moss pot, so small they fit on the head of a pin! I haven't seen any get larger than 1/4" or about 6 mm. I've tried giving them grapes, fresh sphagnum, etc., but they never touch the plant material, even in their pot. They will latch onto freeze dried blood worms 5x their size, and enjoy freeze dried dapnia as well. I've also got a culture of Springtails living in the pot, so I imagine their carcasses are available for the snails. Does anyone know what they actually are? I should mention, many carnivorous plants come from places like Australia, South America, Africa, etc.

6 Responses

Thank you for your inquiry. These snails look like a species of Oxychilus which are known to be omnivorous. Do you have additional photographs? There is one species (Oxychilus alliarius) which releases an odor that smells remarkably like garlic when disturbed. If you handle the snails do you notice any odors?

Dear Rory,

Thank you so much for responding to my inquiry! In regards to the odor, I haven't felt that I could safely disturb them without potentially causing them harm because of their diminutive size, but that being said, I did sniff the pot where a couple of them were, and I got an ever so slight whiff of garlic (whether real or imagined, I'm not sure) after you mentioned it. I do think it possible that these are glass snails. The type of carnivorous plants I continually find them on is the Mexican Pinguicula. Here are a couple more pics for you. If they are a species of Oxychilus, are there any special care requirements? I will have to look up types of food if they are omnivorous. I have not yet been able to find any plant material that interests them. Thank you again so much!!

Hi Rory,
I wanted to add that some carnivorous plants come from the Czech Republic (ie, Drosera regia clones). I have 4 of those plants on my back deck. I looked up Oxychilus draparnaudi, which looks similar to the alliarius, is apparently native to that area, and it is listed as carnivorous. I'm not entirely sure which one I have, but I think we are correct so far in that it is some variety of glass snail.
Thank you again for your interest in my question! I look forward to any further thoughts you might have.

Hi Keri,
Thank you for the follow up email. After seeing the new photos I am confident it is a glass snail but it is more difficult to determine the species from images. It could be Oxychilus alliarius, O. draparnaudi or O. cellarius. All three are native to Europe.
Feel free to reach out to me with future snail and slug questions.

Hi Rory,
The more I read about the different species, the more I've become convinced that you nailed it- these appear to be garlic snails. They have the length of the O. alliarius, which was the deciding factor since I don't have anything powerful enough to view finer details. And today I moved them to a bigger tank, so in disturbing them I was able to catch a faint whiff of garlic. I originally started out with 2 in June and found a third very recently, all in separate plants. In combining bits of moss from various pots to create their initial habitat, I may have added more inadvertently. Today I transferred 14 snails (mostly adults) to a 10 gallon tank. I've been unable to find out how many eggs they lay, if they have a winter dormancy (which may not happen in captivity), how long it takes them to reach breeding age, and if they cannibalize their young. I'd like to find a way to keep their numbers balanced in this new habitat. Thank you again for responding to my inquiry. I'm enjoying this immensely! I snapped a pic in the new tank of this little fella today.

Great, glad to hear that I was correct in my assessment! Have fun!