Mystery snails again

As reported before, some Bulimulidae can easily become invasive in other areas. The story of the ‘rail riding snail’ in Florida is just one example of this. Today a new case of possible bulimulid expansion out of their home territory came to my notice.

Dr Richard Willan of the Australian Museum and Art gallery of the Northern Territory has recorded since 2000 eleven interceptions of, what seems a possible, bulimulid species. The origin of the containers with which the snails were shipped into Australia was not, however, a South American country. These containers arrived from Singapore, India, China, Thailand and East Timor. This leads to several scenarios: a) this is a quite widespread species, b) this species is highly invasive, c) the snails remained unnoticed in the countries mentioned above and the containers had a South American origin after all, or d) a combination of two or more of the options before.


The pictures show a bulimulid species to me (although others have suggested a member of the Enidae or Cerastidae), possibly a Bulimulus, Bostryx or Rabdotus. A quick study of the protoconch sculpture could reveal at least part of the solution (genus), while additional sequencing should confirm this. The lack of a reference data bank, however, makes it difficult to pin these shells currently down to a specific taxon.

Dr Willan writes “My reason for needing a name is to reinforce the message to the Australian Quarantine authorities that this species is aggressive and opportunistic, and so poses a real quarantine risk to Australia. Clearly it can survive a desiccating environment on shipping containers. This is exactly what the climate of northern Australia is – a monsoon season (which has just stated incidentally) plus a long dry season”.

Undoubtedly to be followed up…


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