Pennsylvania Land Snails
Photo(s): Larry Watrous
Gastrocopta armifera (Say, 1821)
Common name: Armed snaggletooth
In Pennsylvania the armed snaggletooth is the largest in its family of pupa-shaped snails, a behemoth at more than 4mm long. It has a whitish shell, reflected lip (or peristome) and a complex pattern of denticles (or lamellae) at its aperture. It has 6 1/2 convex whorls and a tiny umbilicus. Its white shell and relatively large size make the armed snaggletooth one of the few of its kind that can be easily spotted and picked up in the field.
The unique patterns of the denticles or lamellae in the aperture are employed to distinguish species and races within the Family Gastrocoptidae. The distinguishing pattern for the armed snaggletooth is a total of five of these “teeth,” including a massive columellar lamella, and at top center, a bifurcate lamella formed by the joining of the angular and parietal lamellae.
The armed snaggletooth is a calcium-lover, or calciphile, occurring most abundantly on rich sites. Shells can be abundant beneath limestone outcrops. It might be found on rich soils anywhere in the Keystone State, although it mostly occurs in the limestone regions of the south and east. In the United States the armed snaggletooth has been reported throughout the east, from Vermont to North Dakota in the north and from Texas to Florida in the south (Hubricht, 1985) There are several regional forms reported for this animal (Pilsbry, 1948).
Ken Hotopp, 9/14/05
Development of this site was supported by the generous contributions of Pennsylvanians to the Wild Resource Conservation Fund.