MolluscIreland - land and freshwater
  • Pomatias elegans (O. F. Müller 1774) Round-mouthed snail or land winkle
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Pomatias elegans
© Dr Roy Anderson

Map hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford
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A medium-sized, pinkish to reddish-brown shell with darker apex. Very solid with a strong sculpture of spiral striae crossed by broad radial grooves. Aperture closed by a thick, horny operculum.

Key characteristics

  • Shell medium-sized, broadly conical, solid
  • Surface with a sculpture of strong spiral grooves crossed by finer radial lines
  • Aperture closed by a horny operculum which has a complex system of radial grooves
  • Animal dark with a separate, long, nose and tentacles with eyes at the base, not at the apex


11-15 mm.

World Distribution

A southern species in Europe ranging from southern Denmark to the Mediterranean but strangely lacking in Iberia apart from outlying colonies on the coast of Portugal and the Balearic islands. Distribution type: European Southern-temperate (83).

GBIF distribution map [open in new tab]

Irish Distribution

In the nineteenth century there were a small number of artificial introductions of this species to Ireland which evidently did not take. However, Thompson (1842) regarded the finding of “fully a hundred” shells washed ashore at 'Mullaghmore' near Bundoran, East Donegal, as reliable evidence that the species was indeed indigenous. In 1976, a small colony of live animals along with subfossil shells was located near New Quay on Finavarra on the north coast of Co. Clare (Platts, 1977). The species is now regarded as a long-established but relict native in Ireland. The nineteenth-century occurrence of shells at Bundoran, roughly 100km north of New Quay, has never been satisfactorily explained. However, Cawley (1996) refers to a dead shell recently found by Dr D.C.F. Cotton in Bunduff Dunes, Co Sligo, which is close to the probable Mullaghmore site referred to by Thompson. No living shells have ever been found in this area.


  • Confined to highly calcareous soils
  • Thermophilic (requires heat) but probably restricted more by low summer soil temperatures than by winter frosts
  • In Ireland lives in gryke fissures on limestone pavement close to the sea
  • Outside Ireland it burrows in dry, limy soils

Red List status

  • Critically endangered (CR).

Wikipedia link

Wikipedia page for Pomatias elegans

 Anderson, R., (2016). Pomatias elegans (O. F. Müller 1774). [In] MolluscIreland. Accessed on 2024-03-02.