Virginia Land Snails


Photo(s): Cepaea hortensis shells can be striped or not, by Ken Hotopp ©.

Click photo(s) to enlarge.

Cepaea hortensis (Müller, 1774)

Family: Helicidae
Common name: White-lip Garden Snail

Width: 17-20.5 mm
Height: 13-18 mm
Whorls: 4-5+

The glossy shell of Cepaea hortensis is a slightly depressed globe shape. It often has a banded shell, with one to five darker reddish-brown bands on a background color of yellow, but the color pattern varies and it may be unbanded. The umbilicus is covered by the lip, which is usually white and thickened within. Weak, irregular growth ridges cover the shell (Pilsbry 1948, Kerney and Cameron 1979). C. hortensis may be easily confused with C. nemoralis but the former is smaller, has weaker radial ridges, an aperture that is thickened within, and a lighter-colored lip.

In Europe, C. hortensis is found in a variety of habitats, including dunes, woodland, grassy areas, and hedgerows. In North America it is also known from primarily “turf” habitats in the Northeast, and may be entirely restricted to offshore islands.

Cepaea hortensis has also been known as Helix hortensis, H. subglobosa, and Tachea hortensis.

Cepaea hortensis is a native of Western Europe, but its introduction to North America dates to Pre-Columbian times (NatureServe). It is reported from a cave on the Gaspé Peninsula in sediments 12,000 years old (Pearce et al., 2010). This species is presently found on islands off the coast of the North American seaboard and in the St. Lawrence River (Pilsbry 1948). Whether or not it occurs on the mid-Atlantic coastal mainland is a matter of some debate; mainland reports may have resulted from confusion between C. hortensis and C. nemoralis. It occurs as far north as Labrador, and though it has been reported from Virginia, its primary range extends only as far south as Long Island (Hubricht, 1985). Virginia records need to be verified.

NatureServe Global Rank: G5
NatureServe State Rank: SNA


Meegan Winslow, Ken Hotopp 11/2012

Range Map