List of non-marine molluscs of Great Britain

Location of the island of Great Britain
A plate from G. B. Sowerby's 1859 book Illustrated Index of British Shells shows shells of British land snails

This list comprises 220 species of non-marine molluscs that have been recorded in the scientific literature as part of the fauna of the island of Great Britain. These are terrestrial and aquatic gastropods, and aquatic bivalves; the list does not include species of molluscs which are considered to be fully marine, except for two marine pulmonate gastropods.

In other words: this list includes land snails and slugs, and freshwater and brackish water snails. It also includes freshwater mussels and clams, including some that can tolerate brackish water. Molluscs that are fully adapted to live in the sea are not included here, except for two species that are air-breathing and thus are more closely related to most land and freshwater snails than they are to the majority of sea snails.

Great Britain is a European island in the northeastern Atlantic, comprising the contiguous countries of England, Scotland and Wales. (Great Britain is not the same entity as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for more information on the complex nomenclature of this area, please see terminology of the British Isles.)

The mollusc fauna of the island of Ireland, which includes both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is listed in another article: List of non-marine molluscs of Ireland.

A number of species of snails listed here are semi-terrestrial and so are sometimes also found on lists of marine species. Two listed here, in the genera Onchidella and Otina, are fully marine in habitat, but are pulmonate snails which breathe air at low tide rather than having gills like most marine species. Other species listed here live in habitats that are intermediate between land and saltwater, or in brackish water habitats intermediate between freshwater and full-salinity saltwater.

Additional species are still being added to the list of the non-marine malacofauna of Great Britain. Three of the more recent discoveries are Papillifera bidens first found in 1993, Selenochlamys ysbryda a species which appeared to be new to science and which was first found in 2005, and Eobania vermiculata first found in 2006 and possibly not really established at that point. A major revision of the slug fauna published in 2014, partly based on genetic sequencing, established that there were 20% more species than had previously been recognised.[1][2] Not all these species have been definitely identified and some are formally undescribed.

In addition to the species that survive outdoors in Great Britain, there are also another 14 exotic gastropod species (some terrestrial and some aquatic) which live as "uninvited guests" in greenhouses and their enclosed aquaria.[3] These species are known as "hothouse aliens", and are listed separately at the end of the main list. In this list these species are not counted as part of the fauna.

The following table shows a summary of species numbers.

Non-marine molluscs of Great Britain
Gastropods land 150
Gastropods aquatic 48 (including 2 marine pulmonates)
Gastropods total: 198
Bivalves freshwater 31
Mollusc total: 229
Gastropods introduced (in natural habitats): 29 (+16?) land + 4 aquatic
Bivalves introduced (in natural habitats): 3
Molluscs introduced in natural habitats, total: 36–52
Gastropods living as "hothouse aliens" 14 (10 terrestrial + 4 freshwater)
(not included in numbers for total fauna)
Bivalves living as "hothouse aliens" 0


Those species that are recognized as endangered are shown with an E after their name, see List of endangered species in the British Isles.

Some species are protected in the United Kingdom under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981:[4]

Two of the land snails on the list (Fruticicola fruticum and Cernuella neglecta) are now locally extinct (in Great Britain, sometimes abbreviated here as G.B.), but they still occur in other parts of Europe.

Systematic list

The list is arranged by presumed biological affinity, rather than being alphabetical by family.

A number of species are listed with subspecies, in cases where there are well-recognized subspecies in different parts of Europe. For some species a synonym is given, where the species may perhaps be better known under another name.

An attempt has been made to label the families as aquatic, terrestrial or intermediate, and an indication is given where it is thought that the species is introduced. Some introductions to Great Britain are quite ancient, dating from Roman times or even earlier, for example, Paleolithic. Those species that do not have a shell usually do not leave an archeological or fossil record, and therefore it is not always possible to determine whether they are native or introduced. Species are considered to be native, unless otherwise indicated on the list; this information is taken from Kerney, 1999,[5] updated in the case of slugs with the opinions of Rowson et al. 2014.[2]

Note: the images used to illustrate the list are mostly of specimens that were found in other countries.


Neritidae - aquatic (this species tolerates brackish water)
Aciculidae - terrestrial
Viviparidae - aquatic
Assimineidae - terrestrial (intermediate marine)
Amnicolidae - aquatic
Truncatellidae - terrestrial (intermediate marine)
Bithyniidae - aquatic
Cochliopidae - aquatic
Hydrobiidae - aquatic (some are arguably marine)
Valvatidae - aquatic
Pomatiidae - terrestrial

The following gastropods are pulmonates:

Ellobiidae - terrestrial
Onchidiidae - aquatic (marine but an intertidal pulmonate)
Otinidae - aquatic (marine but an intertidal pulmonate)
Physidae - aquatic
Lymnaeidae - aquatic
Planorbidae - aquatic
Acroloxidae - aquatic
Succineidae - terrestrial (some almost amphibious)
Cochlicopidae - terrestrial
Pyramidulidae - terrestrial
Vertiginidae - terrestrial
Chondrinidae - terrestrial
Pupillidae - terrestrial
Lauriidae - terrestrial
Valloniidae - terrestrial
Enidae - terrestrial
Punctidae - terrestrial
Helicodiscidae - terrestrial
Discidae - terrestrial
Arionidae - terrestrial
Pristilomatidae - terrestrial
Euconulidae - terrestrial
Gastrodontidae - terrestrial
Oxychilidae - terrestrial
Milacidae - terrestrial
Vitrinidae - terrestrial
Boettgerillidae - terrestrial
Trigonochlamydidae - terrestrial
Limacidae - terrestrial
Agriolimacidae - terrestrial
Ferussaciidae - terrestrial
Clausiliidae - terrestrial
Testacellidae - terrestrial
Helicodontidae - terrestrial
Cochlicellidae - terrestrial
Hygromiidae - terrestrial
Bradybaenidae - terrestrial
Helicidae - terrestrial


Margaritiferidae - aquatic
Unionidae - aquatic
Sphaeriidae - aquatic
Dreissenidae - aquatic
Corbiculidae - aquatic

List of "hothouse alien" species

This group of exotic land and freshwater species are not truly part of the fauna because they do not live in the wild. Many are tropical and thus are incapable of surviving in the wild in Great Britain; instead they have established themselves as uninvited inhabitants of greenhouses, aquaria within greenhouses, and similar artificially-heated habitats.

Zonitoides arboreus on orchid plants
Thiaridae - aquatic
Gastrodontidae - terrestrial
Lymnaeidae - aquatic
Planorbidae - aquatic
Pleurodiscidae - terrestrial
Pristilomatidae - terrestrial
Helicodiscidae - terrestrial
Streptaxidae - terrestrial
Subulinidae - terrestrial

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Rowson. B., Anderson, R., Turner, J.A., Symondson, W.O.C. (2014). "The slugs of Britain and Ireland: undetected and undescribed species increase a well-studied, economically important fauna by more than 20%". PLoS ONE. 9: e91907. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091907.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Rowson, B., Turner, J., Anderson, R., Symondson, W. (2014). Slugs of Britain and Ireland: identification, understanding and control. Telford: Field Studies Council. ISBN 978-1-908819-13-0.
  3. Anderson, Roy (2005). "An annotated list of the non-marine molluscs of Britain and Ireland". Journal of Conchology. 38 (6): 607–637. ISSN 1753-2205.
  4. Protection for wild animals on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. website accessed 7 August 2009.
  5. Kerney, Michael, 1999, Atlas of the land and freshwater molluscs of Britain and Ireland, Harley Books, Colchester, England, ISBN 0-946589-48-8
  6. Killeen I. J. (2013). "Whorl snails (Vertigo spp.) surveillance in Scotland: a condition assessment of Geyer’s whorl snail Vertigo geyeri, and the round-mouthed whorl snail Vertigo genesii in Perthshire and the Black Isle". Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 616. PDF.
  7. Janet Ridout Sharpe. March 2005. Papillifera papillaris (Gastropoda: Clausiliidae): a new record for Britain. The Archeo+Malacology Group Newsletter, (7): page 6-7.

External links

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