Helix pomatia

Helix pomatia from Canatara Park, Sarnia, Ontario (James Kamstra photo).

Helix pomatia Linnaeus, 1758
Roman Snail, Burgundy Snail, Escargot

  • Helix pomatia Linnaeus 1758: 771.
  • Many additional synonyms in Europe.

Identification. Shell subglobose. Spire elevated, conical. Whorls c. 4–5, convex. Periphery rounded, medial on last whorl. Protoconch smooth. Teleoconch with irregular, low colabral ridges/riblets and spiral rows of weak granules. Aperture large, subovate-rounded, inside showing external shell colour, without teeth. Last whorl slightly descending when shell full-grown. Lip not scarcely thickened in adults, narrowly flared outward, more expanded near columella. Umbilicus a narrow cleft, seldom closed. Shell opaque, pale grey-white, with lighter and darker, brownish colabral streaks and, in general, 2–5 spiral chestnut-brown bands (sometimes rather weakly marked or absent; band nearest periphery darkest and broadest); near inner edge of outer lip and columellar lip pale pinkish brown. Width to 42 mm (higher than wide).

Helix pomatia from Montrose, BC (RGF 16.001.8137, NBM 010200). Height of shell 38.6 mm [RF]
Close-up of teleoconch sculpture, Helix pomatia from Montrose, BC (RGF 16.001.8137, NBM 010200) [RF]

Habitat. In parks and gardens in Canada.

Biology. During aestivation and hibernation, this species may seal its aperture with a calcareous epiphragm.

Global range. Central and Southern Europe, but now north to Scandinavian countries and through Western Europe to England (Neubert 2014). Introduced east in Europe to at least Moscow, Russia (Sysoev & Schileyko 2009). Introduced to other continents.

Canadian range. Introduced. Southern British Columbia: Melrose and Revelstoke. Southern Ontario: Sarnia. Populations are apparently reproducing (Forsyth & Kamstra 2019).

Etymology. Helix (G), a spiral; poma (G), “a lid” (Kennard & Woodward 1926), perhaps in reference to the calcified epiphragm used to close the aperture during times of aestivation or hibernation.

  • Forsyth RG, Kamstra J (2019) Roman Snail, Helix pomatia (Mollusca: Helicidae), in Canada. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 133: 156–159.
  • Kennard AS, Woodward BB (1926) Synonymy of the British non-marine Mollusca (Recent and post-Tertiary). British Museum (Natural History), London, xxiv + 447 pp.
  • Linnaeus C (1758) Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii, Holmiæ, [4] + 824 pp.
  • Neubert E (2014) Revision of Helix Linnaeus, 1758 in its eastern Mediterranean distribution area, and reassignment of Helix godetiana Kobelt, 1878 to Maltzanella Hesse, 1917 (Gastropoda, Pulmonata, Helicidae). Contributions to Natural History 26: 1–200.
  • Sysoev A, Schileyko A (2009) Land snails and slugs of Russia and adjacent countries. Pensoft, Sofia, Bulgaria, 212 pp. + 142 pls.