Virginia Land Snails
You have arrived at the home of Virginia’s Land Snail Atlas.
Land snails abound in The Commonwealth of Virginia, where there are more than 220 different kinds.
Here you can see images of each, read about their characteristics, and find out where they live. Students, naturalists and scientists will find identification keys, literature citations, and in-depth information to aid their studies.
Virginia’s land snails, which include both the shelled snails and shell-less slugs, live in almost every land habitat - forests, wetlands, fields, gardens, yards, and even urban settings.
These terrestrial mollusks vary from the size of a pinhead to wider than a quarter. Some species are found often, while others are habitat specialists. Land snails have a variety of foods, though as “detritivores” many eat decaying plant matter. They also have many unique behaviors, such as climbing to great heights while eating the biofilm on tree trunks; and a variety of predators, both invertebrate and vertebrate.
Virginia, the “Old Dominion,” is beautiful and diverse - from its Atlantic dunes and estuaries, Piedmont farmland and forest, and on to its high Blue Ridge and fertile valleys, and rugged Appalachian Plateau west.
Of course such a varied place is rich in wildlife, with a multitude of lesser-known animals - including land snails - that cycle energy and nutrients, build soil, and provide the biological foundation of our ecosystems.
We hope that you enjoy exploring the fascinating world of land snails!
Images in this online atlas are mainly by Bill Frank, Daniel C. Dourson, Larry Watrous, Jeffrey C. Nekola, and Jochen Gerber. Additional images are by Roy Anderson, Robert Forsyth, Mark Hitchcox, Ken Hotopp, Ron Lutz II, Michael Manas, Bruce Martin, John Maunder, Aydin Örstan, Megan Paustian, Kevin Ripka, Tim Ross, Francisco Welter Schultes, John Slapcinsky, and Erik Veldhuis.
Images can be reproduced only with the permission of the photographer.
Atlas maps are compiled from specimen records in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Delaware Museum of Natural History, Field Museum of Natural History, and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Reports lacking specimen records have not been mapped.
Primary references used in this atlas are Dourson (2010), Hubricht (1985), Kerney and Cameron (1979), NatureServe (2013), Nekola and Coles (2010), Pilsbry (1939; 1940; 1946; 1948), and our own unpublished reports and observations.
We are grateful to Danielle LaFountaine of the Carnegie Museum and Conni St. Pierre of Tourmaline Media for website development, and to Leigh Kish of the Carnegie and Fred Leckie of Virginia DG&IF for their help and support.
This online atlas was completed with funds provided by the Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries through a State Wildlife Grant from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Hotopp, K.P., T.A. Pearce, J.C. Nekola, J. Slapcinsky, D.C. Dourson, M. Winslow, G. Kimber, and B. Watson. 2013. Land Snails and Slugs of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Online Resource: http://www.carnegiemnh.org/science/mollusks/valandsnails.