Decollate Snail: The Traveling Pest Controller

Decollate Snail Infographic

This snail is slowly taking over the world, one country at a time. Okay, so that’s probably a little bit of an exaggeration; it is only a snail after all. This land species has somehow managed to find itself all over the globe, from Egypt and Israel to the UK, the Mediterranean, and several places in the US.

Are you intrigued? Let’s find out more…

What is a Decollate Snail?

Rumina decollata is the scientific name for this predatory gastropod, which lives on land, breathes air, and is much more adaptable than many other species. That’s just one reason behind its success in a wide variety of climates.

Also known as Mediterranean snails (because that’s where they originated), they are commonly used as a natural control method for garden snails and slugs. In fact, that’s how the populations of California and similar spots were created: they were introduced there to try and deal with a garden snail/slug problem.

What Do Decollate Snails Look Like?

This gastropod has an elongated shell that spirals and is often brown, pink, or a combination/blend of the two. The color tends to get bolder and more obvious as the snails ages, with younger shells often more muted tones.

The body is usually quite dark in color, often gray or olive green.

The decollate shell loses spirals, also known as whorls, as it ages. As a youngster, it can have many spirals. A full-grown adult, on the other hand, will have only four to seven spirals left. The snail actually does this deliberately, often knocking and scraping against hard objects to get the pointed tip of the shell to become blunter.

How Big Do Decollates Get?

Decollate shells can grow to a length of 1.5 inch (4 cm), with a width of just 0.03 inch (0.1 cm).

Is Rumina Decollata Nocturnal?

Yes, decollate snails are nocturnal. They are most alert and active around sunset. During the day, it is likely you won’t spot them. They like to burrow in the substrate (which should be leaf mulch, rocks, soil, etc.) during the day.

You may also find that your nocturnal snails are more active during daylight hours on dreary, gray, overcast days.

Are Decollate Snails Poisonous?

No, decollates are not poisonous. They were once considered to be a pest species, and in many parts of the US, you are not permitted to release them into the wild – but they aren’t poisonous or venomous.

What Do Decollate Snails Eat?

This snail mostly eats garden snails, other land snails, and slugs – and that’s why they’re often deliberately introduced into public and private gardens and similar spaces. Decollates eat the pest snails without chomping through your plants and flowers.

That’s not to say the species doesn’t eat plant life, but it tends to only eat leaves that have fallen to the ground rather than fresh from the plant. The same can be said for fruit: they only seem to eat fruit and similar items when they have fallen to the ground.

Do Decollate Snails Climb?

The decollate snail will usually only climb when it has no other choice, such as when the ground becomes saturated with rainwater, or during floods. For the rest of the time, they prefer to be down on the ground, hidden in amongst the soil and leaf litter.

Does the Decollate Snail Burrow?

Yes, this is a burrowing species.

For the majority of the day, these gastropods will be hidden away under the soil, earth, or other substrate.

Are Decollate Snails Good or Bad?

There are both pros and cons for owning or introducing decollate snails into your garden, but one thing cannot be denied: they are a great, all-natural approach to slug and garden snail control. They will rid a serious infestation in a yard, in just a year or two, completely naturally – and they’ll leave your plants alone, too.

This species is a prolific breeder, but they will usually only reproduce quickly if there is enough food to support them. As well as being hermaphrodites (can switch between male-female), they can both self-fertilize and mate with others. Full-grown adult females can lay as many as 500 eggs in their lifetime – and that’s a lot of baby snails! Not all of them will survive to adulthood, of course. 

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