MolluscIreland - land and freshwater
  • Acanthinula aculeata (O. F. Müller 1774) Prickly snail
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Acanthinula aculeata
© Dr Roy Anderson
Acanthinula aculeata
© Dr Roy Anderson

Map hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Waterford
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A small conical shell, slightly higher than wide, of 4-5 convex whorls with conspicuous transverse ridges drawn out into long spines at the periphery. This ‘prickly’ appearance gives it its common name. Widespread but perhaps declining.

Key characteristics

  • A very small brown shell, slightly higher than wide
  • Whorls convex with regular elevated, radial ridges which are drawn out into spines at the periphery
  • Mouth circular


1.9-2.1 mm.

World Distribution

Widespread in central and southern Europe, reaching the Mediterranean. Distribution type: European Southern-temperate (83).

GBIF distribution map [open in new tab]

Irish Distribution

Very widespread but rather thinly scattered. More common in limestone districts and formerly widespread in central counties but apparently becoming rarer there.


  • Commonest in eastern and southern counties and generally in drier woodland habitats than Spermodea lamellata
  • It can occur in overgrown hedgerows and woodland edge habitats generally
  • In acidic environments the ‘spines’ along the periphery of the shell may become worn or decorticated and the finest examples usually occur on calcareous soils

Red List status

  • Near threatened (nt).

Wikipedia link

Wikipedia page for Acanthinula aculeata

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