There are snails everywhere, on land and in the water, with and without a house. This list contains which snail species are native to us and how to identify them.

Shelled snail species

Garden snail (Cepaea hortensis)

  • Other names: white-mouthed banded snail, garden snail
  • Size: up to 2.5 cm
  • Appearance: Shell rounded, ground color either yellow or brownish, specimens with or without black spiral stripes, body light or dark to blackish, mouth light
  • Diet: Pure herbivore, mainly wilted or damaged plants
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays eggs from which mature young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: common everywhere in Germany, easy to confuse with the Hain band snail in this list

Spotted snail (Arianta arbustorum)

  • other names: tree snail, tree snail
  • Size: up to 2.5 cm case size
  • Appearance: Shell rounded, basic color light to dark brown with lighter spots or darker stripes
  • Food: dying and dead plant parts
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays eggs, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: Widespread but rare, prefers moist environments, native to e.g. forests on the banks of streams

Common amber snail (Succinea putris)

  • Size: up to 3 cm body length
  • Appearance: elongated body, amber, slightly transparent
  • Food: purely vegetable, mainly decaying parts of plants
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays eggs in the decaying layer of leaves, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: common everywhere, in humid areas
  • Particularities: is attacked by a parasitic worm, which means that the appearance of the feelers in particular can take on grotesque shapes and colours; can temporarily live underwater

Grove snail (Cepaea nemoralis)

  • Other names: Grove snail, black-mouthed banded snail
  • Size: up to 2.5 cm case size
  • Appearance: easy to determine, similar to the garden snail, the main difference is the dark shell opening
  • Food: vegetable, mainly rotting or dead parts of plants, also fungi
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodites, eggs are laid in burrows, young snails hatch after about 3 weeks
  • Occurrence: Common everywhere, therefore easy to determine, widespread throughout Central Europe

Weinbergschnecke (Helix pomatia)

  • Size: case up to 5 cm
  • Appearance: Shell rounded, light to dark brown in color, no spots or conspicuous stripes, feet uniformly gray to brownish
  • Food: Algae, withered plant material
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodites, lay eggs in the ground, mature young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: Widespread in Germany, but has become rarer, likes warmth, spread to southern Europe
Note: The Roman snail is the largest native land snail with a shell and is therefore easy to identify by its size compared to other snail species.

Shellless snails

Genetzte Ackerschnecke (Deroceras reticulatum)

  • other names: netted field slug
  • Size: up to 6 cm in length
  • Appearance: Basic color light brown, with dark net-like markings
  • Food: Omnivore, mainly living plants, rarely carrion or dead plant material
  • Reproduction: lays eggs, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: widespread, likes on fields or in gardens

Red slug (Arion rufus)

  • other names: Large slug
  • Length: up to 15 cm
  • Appearance: Reddish to brownish or orange body, smooth shield, dark antennae
  • Diet: Plants, carrion and feces
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays eggs from which mature young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: Become rare in open areas, in damp forests

Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris)

  • Size: up to 15 cm
  • Appearance: similar to the red slug, but also dark to almost black specimens, both species are easily confused
  • Food: Plants and carrion, likes in vegetable gardens, also pest in agriculture
  • Propagation: like red slugs
  • Occurrence: originally western Europe, introduced, very common and easy to determine

Tigerschnegel (Limax maximus)

  • Other names: Big slug, big slug or tiger slug
  • Size: up to 15 cm, rarely over 20 cm
  • Appearance: easy to determine, basic coloration brown with conspicuous, variable dark markings, seldom entirely white specimens
  • Food: mainly dead plant parts, rarely living, other snail species or their eggs
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays eggs, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: ubiquitous, but rather rare compared to other slugs

Wurmnacktschnecke (Boettgerilla pallens)

  • other names: worm slugs
  • Size: up to 5 cm
  • Appearance: worm-like shape, light colouring, head often a little darker
  • Food: soft plant material, eggs of other snail species
  • Reproduction: lays eggs deep in the ground, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: ubiquitous, not as conspicuous as larger species, hidden lifestyle

Species of snails in freshwater

Common plate snail (Planorbis planorbis)

  • Size: Case diameter up to 1.8 cm
  • Appearance: flat, light to dark brown, body also dark
  • Food: Algae , soft and dead aquatic plants
  • Reproduction: Hermaphrodites, also self-fertile, young snails hatch from the eggs
  • Occurrence: Native of slow-flowing waters with muddy bottoms

Ear mud snail (Radix auricularia)

  • Size: up to 2 cm case size
  • Appearance: Shell elongate light to dark brown, opening widened like an ear
  • Food: mainly algae
  • Reproduction: lays eggs on aquatic plants, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: often in stagnant water, less often in flowing water

Posthornschnecke (Planorbarius corneus)

  • Size: Case diameter up to 4 cm
  • Appearance: Shell flat, snail belongs to the plate snails, color dark brown, snail body brown to reddish
  • Diet: Omnivores, dead plants and carrion
  • Reproduction: hermaphrodite, lays flat egg packets on aquatic plants, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: in many freshwater bodies of water, also in oxygen-poor ones, also in ponds and aquariums

Spitzschlammschnecke (Lymnaea stagnalis)

  • other names: shrimp snail
  • Size: up to 6 cm body length
  • Appearance: tapered light to dark brownish shell, brown foot
  • Diet: Algae, spawn, carrion, dead or soft parts of aquatic plants
  • Reproduction: Hermaphrodites, lay spawning cords on aquatic plants, young snails hatch
  • Occurrence: Native to many freshwater bodies of water, widespread throughout Germany, also in garden ponds and cold water aquariums

Blunt mud snail (Viviparus viviparus)

  • other names: river snail
  • Size: housing up to 4 cm high
  • Appearance: Case is more or less dark brown in color, has several dark bands and an operculum
  • Food: Algae, aquatic plants, but mainly from rotting soil material
  • Reproduction: gives birth to live young
  • Occurrence: in rivers, widespread but rare

snails in the sea

Common tower snail (Turritella communis)

  • Size: case length up to 6 cm
  • Appearance: Casing reddish-brown, elongated, tapering, up to 19 whorls
  • Nutrition: the smallest components of food are swept in via the mouth
  • Occurrence: North Sea coast, Atlantic, Mediterranean, lives buried in the sand, sociable

Common mud snail (Peringia ulvae)

  • Size: Case up to 8mm
  • Appearance: Housing brown, conical, 7 turns, lockable with lid
  • Food: algae and bacteria
  • Occurrence: North and western Baltic Sea coast, Atlantic, in thousands in the mudflats

Common Spiral Staircase (Epitonium clathrus)

  • Size: shell up to 4 cm long
  • Appearance: Shell white to reddish, characteristic tower-like shape, easy to identify
  • Food: lives predatory among other things on cnidarians
  • Reproduction: changes sex, lays eggs, larvae belong to zooplankton
  • Occurrence: North Sea, Atlantic coast and Mediterranean Sea

Glossy umbilical slug (Euspira pulchella)

  • other names: Glossy moon snail
  • Size: case up to 1.8 cm in size
  • Appearance: rounded body shape, light basic color with reddish-brown spots
  • Food: eats other snails and mussels, leaves characteristic burrow in the shell
  • Reproduction: lays eggs, larvae belong to the zooplankton and develop into snails
  • Occurrence: North Sea, Mediterranean

Large periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

  • Size: shell up to 2 cm
  • Appearance: gray body, brown interior muzzle, gray foot with black stripes
  • Food: Algae or plant remains
  • Reproduction: laying eggs, from which larvae hatch, which only later become snails
  • Occurrence: North Sea coast, Atlantic and Mediterranean, on rocks, very sociable

Netzreusenschnecke (Nassarius reticulatus)

  • Size: case height up to 2.5 cm
  • Appearance: Shell light to brownish, with a net-like structure
  • Food: mainly carrion, also sucks eggs from fish
  • Occurrence: North Sea, rarely also Baltic Sea, widespread on Europe’s coasts

Pelikanfuß (Aporrhais pespelecani)

  • Size: up to 5 cm case length
  • Appearance: Shell brown, yellowish, old bluish, distinctive shape reminiscent of a pelican’s foot, one of the most striking snails on this list
  • Food: filters food components from the sea water
  • Reproduction: lays eggs, larvae belong to the zooplankton
  • Occurrence: rarely in the North Sea, Atlantic, Mediterranean

Wellhornschnecke (Buccinum undatum)

  • Size: up to 11 cm case size
  • Appearance: Shell brownish, with 8 whorls, shape more elongated than wide, tapering to a point, snail body light with blackish markings
  • Food: Carnivore, eats mainly mussels but also carrion
  • Reproduction: separate sexes, females lay egg packets, which can often be found in the sand
  • Occurrence: North Sea, North Atlantic, in cooler waters
Note: The empty snail shells are used by hermit crabs to protect their soft-skinned hindquarters.

frequently asked Questions

Only slugs and field slugs are real pests. Other slugs, such as the tiger slug, eat the eggs of other slugs and are therefore more beneficial. Snails rarely eat living, healthy plants.

There are some edible species of snails. The most popular is the Roman snail, but sea snails such as the periwinkle are also eaten as a delicacy.

Yes, there are actually snails that live in the sea and don’t have a shell. They can be very attractively colored, but they can also be very poisonous. However, there are no native species.

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