Monday, October 11, 2010

Cepaea nemoralis: Brown-lipped Snail/Grove Snail

I'm not going to lie that I'm a little disappointed that the first snail I ever noticed/found happens to be a non-native species. Already as a birder I've grown an aversion to non-native species. Still, this is a cool looking snail. I found the original shell at a retention pond area in downtown Wilkes-Barre, PA along some railroad tracks. I was busy looking for sandpipers in the low water of the retention pond. So, once I decided I was into snails, I went back to look for a live specimen. Easily I found a bunch of these snails along the roadside as soon as I parked my car. To be fair, it was drizzling so they were moving about.

Cepaea nemoralis is a common snail of Europe. It goes by the common names Brown-lipped Snail and Grove Snail. It's a good sized snail- the shell I measured is about 21mm high and 20mm wide, give or take.

The most interesting thing while looking for an identification that this snail led me to was an article on thrush selection of banded snails at It seems the polymorphism of these snails (some seem to have more or less bands, yellowish to brownish base colors) helps them survive. Light snails fair better against light dry backgrounds, dark ones against dark backgrounds when it comes to being found and eaten by thrush and other creatures that find the tasty morsel snails by sight.

This is the actual first snail shell I ever collected.
Range map from Land Snails of Limestone Communities and Update of Land Snail Distributions in Pennsylvania (Pearce) with my own county added to range (in orange). Formerly unknown to Luzerne County.

Identification notes:
Height: about 21mm on mine
Width: about 20mm on mine (listed as 22-24mm in Burch)
Shell: Imperforate Heliciform
Lip: Reflected with a brown color
Apertural Teeth: None
Aperture: Ovate-lunate
Whorls: about 5
Other: Color Bands

Location Found:
Epsco Retention Ponds
Wilkes-Barre, PA- Luzerne Co.
41.25508923613776, -75.8547055721283


  1. I just found these in Chambersburg PA 17201, I can send pics and exact location, I noticed them walking to work this morning, this evening went looking and found 3 live and many shells.

  2. I have seen these in the Bushkill, pike county area... I first found them about 5 or so years ago... seen about 2 dozen just this afternoon

  3. Ive got plentt of these in my yard here in Williamsport.