Worcestershire Record No. 4 May 1998 p.5


By David M Green

Searching for snails after dark, 29th August 1996, with a torch in the garden at Little Comberton near Pershore, Worcestershire (SO 964432) I found a distinctive snail, marked with a pale line around the outer rim of the shell, with a rather conical shape above, crawling on quarry tiles next to a shed. The snail was Hygromia cinctella (no common name) never before recorded in Worcestershire.

Hygromia cinctella has a Mediterranean range. Distribution is SE France, extending up Rhone valley into Switzerland (Geneva basin); also near the Atlantic in SW France; and is well established as an introduction in SW England (S Devon) (Kerney 1979). Contacts in the Conchological Society, say Hygromia cinctella has been spreading over southern England recently. In a Surrey garden, it is very common (Light 1998), and is also progressing northwards. Within last two years it was found in a Cheltenham garden, but the garden in Little Comberton is presently the most northerly record according to Michael Kerney (February 1998) the national non-marine conchological recorder at the British Museum (Natural History). Possibly the warmer climate is enabling the population spread; a long cold winter could widely kill the snail, reducing the population back to refugia on the southern coast. When H. cinctella arrives at a new site from distant population it was possibly carried with plant cuttings or soil, as baby snails or eggs. The spread across S England was probably a combination of this inadvertent man transportation and the snails own natural spread.

During February and March 1998 four adults and one juvenile snail were found in the same garden suggesting that the garden was colonised. The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Worcestershire Biological Records Centre would be interested to discover the how far Hygromia cinctella has spread especially in this part of the country, further north and Wales. Local BBC TV and radio, and some Worcestershire newspapers, and WWT newsletter have featured the snail, resulting in a few presently unconfirmed reports that Hygromia cinctella has been seen - this information needs to be checked preferably by us visiting the sites and seeing a captured snail or or finding one. We hope to hear from anyone who believes they have identified (or requires advice on) the snail in Worcestershire and surrounding counties and further north. Please capture a snail and inform WBRC.

Where to find Hygromia cinctella

Hygromia cinctella is a smallish, not outstanding but rather distinctive snail, described below, that might be inhabiting your garden or waste ground. It could be out crawling after dark, especially in warmer, humid or wet weather - look on flagstones, paths, near sheds. Or daytime, under stones, materials resting against grass, or nettles, ivy, etc., or revealed when clearing gardens. If you can find one, a captured snail would enable us to come and check the identification so it can be recorded unambiguously. 

Description of Hygromia cinctella

Shell brown to very pale brown, except usually for a single thin pale (often pale yellow) band around the outer rim of the shell. The outer whorl often appears generally darker owing to blackish splodges. A careful look from different angles reveals (a hand lens is useful) that the outer rim is also strongly keeled (the rim is a pale outward ridge, not a more rounded shape like other snails in the garden). Size much smaller than the garden snail and hedge snails. Shell widest width about 10-12mm adult, but you might find a smaller juvenile. Shell height 7mm. Despite being smallish, Hygromia cinctella is quite distinctive with the rounded pyramidal shape above, the somewhat flattened whorl below the rim, and lighter coloured keel at the rim. Mouth viewed-head on is oval as a general shape, not round. Underneath, the umbilicus (hole in center) is minute, partly covered by lip. The big pair of antennae are particularly long when fully extended.


Gardens, waste ground.


John W. Meiklejohn & Paul F. Whitehead for confirmation of my identification.

References and Bibliography:

Kerney MP, Cameron RAD, Riley G (1979) (1st pub) A Field Guide to the Land Snails of Britain & N.W. Europe. Collins (very useful descriptions & colour illustrations).
Kerney, Michael (Feb 1998) (non-marine recorder, Conchological Society, British Museum (NH)) pers.com.
Janus, H (1965) The Young Specialist Looks at Land and Freshwater Molluscs. Burke, London (descriptions etc)
Light, Janice (1997-8) Nature Line. No.108. Winter 97-8. Surrey Wildlife Trust
Light, Janice (1998) (marine recorder & Surrey recorder, Conchological Soc.) pers.com.
McMillan, Nora F (1968) British Shells. Wayside & Woodland series. Frederick Warne & Co. (reprint 1973)
Pfleger, V & Chatfield J (1988) A Guide to Snails of Britain & Europe. Hamlyn (includes a key)

Post-publication additions


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