Florida Tree Snail

This little fellow is prooooooobably a Florida tree snail (Liguus fasciatus). The “tree snails of Florida” identification key is a maze of nearly identical slimy bodies with slightly different patterns of bands on their shells. “Florida tree snail” seems to be what you call it when there aren’t enough bands to identify it properly. I checked its wallet, but couldn’t find any ID.

Snails in Florida vary from “beneficial native snail” to “giant invasive African land snail out to steal our children”. Most of the smaller, tree snails lean toward the “beneficial” end of the spectrum, eating algae, fungi, and lichen on trees. Liguus (and other tree snails in Florida) have characteristic “ovate-conical”, or bulimoid, shells.

The Florida tree snail is about 40-70mm long as an adult. It prefers smooth-barked trees such as wild tamarind, poisonwood, and mastic. They estivate (become dormant) between December and April, sealing themselves to a tree with mucus to prevent dehydration during the dryer months of winter. They are hermaphroditic, like many snails; they mate in late summer, and lay eggs in the leaf litter at the bases of trees. They can live to be six or seven years old.

Believe it or not, this is a protected species! Overzealous shell collectors, as well as habitat destruction, have greatly reduced their population. (I did not bother this one in any way.)

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