Snail (NZ Native land snails)
New Zealand has around 2,000 species of native land snails ranging in size from the microscopic to the massive
flax snails of Northland.
Compared to other temperate countries, New Zealand has an enormous diversity of snails that are found nowhere else in the world and they live in a wide range of habitats from beach dune systems and lowland forests to alpine grasslands. Some are as big as the palm of a hand, although most, like this species, are much smaller. Land snail shells range in colour from red-brown to yellow and black, with whorls extending from the centre. Most species favour the forest floor and some such as Wainuia urnula like to eat earthworms.
The causes of decline for all of New Zealand’s land snails are similar, and include the following:
• Habitat destruction by humans;
• Habitat modification and trampling by grazing animals such as goats, pigs, deer, sheep and cows;
• Being preyed upon by introduced animals and birds (there are also some introduced snails, which appear to impact seriously on indigenous species).
Collection of live animals for their shells may once have had an effect on populations of large species. Collecting discarded shells can also harm snails, because some species need to recycle the calcium lining of old shells.
Small land snails are 1.8–10 mm diameter and are found in a wide variety of habitats; forest litter, under bark, cavities between stones, on foliage. Found from high water mark to alpine areas.They are herbivorous.
Visit Massey University’s image gallery of NZ terrestrial Gastropoda – snails at
For more information on New Zealands species download DOC pdf file on native snails
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