Virginia Land Snails

Photo(s): Gastrocopta pellucida shell by Jeff Nekola ©.

Click photo(s) to enlarge.

Gastrocopta pellucida (Pfeiffer, 1841)

Family: Vertiginidae

Height: ~2.1 mm
Width: ~0.9 mm
Whorls: 5

This animal is relatively small compared to its close relatives (less than 2.25 mm tall) and lacks a calcified thickening on the outside (palatal) wall of the aperture.  Its shell color is a pale yellow-brown.


In the southern Plains and desert Southwest, its populations are most often found in leaf litter accumulations under juniper and among grass tufts on xeric bedrock outcrops and riparian sand deposits. It is one of the most arid-tolerant snails of the desert, being found throughout southern Arizona and New Mexico in litter accumulations under low juniper, palo verde, or mesquite scrub (Bequaert & Miller, 1973; Metcalf & Smartt, 1997). Along the Gulf Coast, individuals occur in open woodlands, parklands, roadsides, and lawns (Nekola & Coles, 2010).

Synonyms for this animal’s name include Pupa hordeacella, Bifidaria pellucida hordeacella, Gastrocopta pellucida hordeacella. 

Gastrocopta pellucida is primarily a southern species that is probably introduced in Virginia. Itranges from peninsular Florida west across the southern Gulf Coast to central Oklahoma, western Utah, and southern California. It occurs sporadically up the Atlantic Seaboard to Cape May, New Jersey and also extends south into the West Indies and Baja California and Tampico in Mexico (Pilsbry, 1948). Like G. cristata, its disjunct occurrence along the middle Atlantic seaboard may represent a recent range expansion related to human activities. 

In Virginia, this species is only reported from the Norfolk area. However, it should be expected from the counties east of the Chesapeake Bay. 

NatureServe Global Rank: G5
NatureServe State Rank: S1S3
Virginia’s wildlife action plan: Tier IV


Jeff Nekola 9/2012

Range Map