MolluscIreland - land and freshwater
  • Helicella itala (Linnaeus 1758) Heath snail
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Helicella itala
© Dr Roy Anderson
Helicella itala
© Dr Roy Anderson
Helicella itala
© Dr Roy Anderson

Map hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford
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A broad, very depressed shell with very open coil producing a convex, low spire and very wide umbilicus. Whorls slightly convex with shallow sutures. Aperture elliptical without an internal rib. Surface white or pale yellow-brown with fine irregular growth ridges and dark brown or yellow-brown spiral bands. Widespread.

Key characteristics

  • A broad very depressed opaque white shell
  • Spire low and with a very wide umbilicus
  • Whorls sightly convex and with shallow sutures
  • Aperture elliptical without an internal rib
  • Colour white or pale yellow-brown with dark brown or yellowish spiral bands
  • Marked by irregular growth lines

Size

12-20 mm.

World Distribution

Found from the west Mediterranean northwards to the British Isles and Denmark. Distribution type: Suboceanic Southern-temperate (82).

Irish Distribution

Probably the only helicellid native in Ireland and abundant around the coast and in most of the central plain. There is a gap in its coastal range between north Antrim and the coast of Louth in the north-east. Reasons for this are unknown but likely related to scarcity of suitable habitat.

Ecology

  • Like the other xerophilous helicids found in all kinds of dry, open habitats such as calcareous grassland and dunes
  • It can disappear rapidly from a site with abandonment and the cessation of grazing
  • Declining in southern Britain (Kerney, 1999) but to date there is no evidence of decline in Ireland

Red List status

  • Vulnerable (VU).

Wikipedia link

Wikipedia page for Helicella itala

 Anderson, R., (2016). Helicella itala (Linnaeus 1758). [In] MolluscIreland.
http://www.habitas.org.uk/molluscireland/species.asp?ID=91 Accessed on 2017-12-11.