Slugs and Snails

Introduction

Slugs and snails are not everyone's favourite wildlife group, indeed for many they prompt feelings of disgust, however they are nevertheless a fascinating group of animals that everyone comes into contact with, and every species has its own story as to where and how it lives.

Slugs and snails are molluscs, a group that also includes Octopus, Squid and Cuttlefish (not that we get any of these in Leicestershire or Rutland). Many live in marine and freshwater environments but some have evolved to survive on land. Land-based species move by secreting mucus to lubricate their path but this results in the loss of water and all are vulnerable to dessication. To avoid this they either live in damp habitats or retreat into their shells during dryer weather.

Around 100 snail species and 25 slug species have been recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55). There are certainly more to be found as relatively few records exist are some species are expanding their range and moving into our area.

Leicestershire and Rutland Resources

Keys

Other Useful Websites and Publications

Slugs & Snails - internet Slugs & Snails - books
Conchological Society of Great Britain & Northern Ireland - lots of useful information including excellent photographic keys to both land and freshwater snails. Slugs of Britain and Ireland (Field Studies Council - Aidgap) - a superb up to date book, full of images and drawings, with a key, species accounts and distribution maps. Highly recommended.
Mollusc Ireland - a quality site with excellent images and species descriptions. Covers slugs and both land and aquatic snails. Land Snails in the British Isles (Field Studies Council AIDGAP) - an excellent key which is easy to use with many illustrations.
Living World of Molluscs - an interesting and detailed account of gastropod molluscs, from their biology to garden control.
A Field Guide to the Land Snails of Britain and North-West Europe (Collins Field Guide) - the only 'popular' field guide around for this group. Includes slugs and has colour plates, but a little dated and not totally accurate.
Steven Falk's flickr collection - good range of slug images  
Defra guide to common UK snails  

If you know of other websites or books that you would recommend, do let us know: info@naturespot.co.uk

Recording Schemes

In VC55 the County Coordinator for molluscs is David Nicholls.

Nationally the Conchological Society of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (see link above) collects mollusc records for the whole of the UK and aims to collate information about their ecology and distribution.

As with all records, any submissions you make to NatureSpot will be automatically forwarded to both local and national recording schemes.

Identification

Snails - most snails can be identified from their shells which offers opportunities for finding evidence of a species after it has died. Flood debris around waterways often reveal numerous shells, washed up by the rising water. A number of our snails are very small and require a good lens or stereo microscope to clearly identify the relevant ID features. A combination of the Leicestershire and Rutland Guide to Land Snails, the online key at the Conchological Society website plus the AIDGAP key should help you identify all VC55 species.

Slugs - these can be harder to identify and there are several groups of closely related species that can be difficult to tell apart visually. A few slug species are usually recorded as an aggregate, such as Arion ater agg., to get round the identification problem. However most can be identified to species with a bit of practice.