An exquisite-looking gastropod that looks like something straight out of a Dracula scene, the fire snail definitely looks Photoshopped. Are fire snails real, though? Yes, I can officially confirm that they are.
What is a Fire Snail?
Let’s start with the basics.
The fire snail, also known by a host of other names, is a large land-based snail that originates from Malaysia. In fact, it is the largest of all land snail species found within Peninsular Malaysia, and one of the rarest.
Other names include:
Malaysian fire snail
What Do Fire Snails Look Like?
Fire snails are large land snails that are almost completely black in color, with the exception of a bright red or orange underbelly. The underbelly is known as the ‘foot’ of a snail.
With the bright red and orange coloration, you can understand why this species has been given the fiery name. If you look a little closer at the image, you will see that the body seems to have veins of black or darker red running from the body-shell meet to the foot. The shell itself is sometimes lighter than the main bulk of the body, too.
Because of their bright and unusual coloration, you will probably not confuse this one with other species.
Are Fire Snails Rare?
Yes, these Malaysia-based snails are rare.
This beautiful gastropod can be found in one very specific – and very humid – part of the world: the thick, high-altitude forests of Malaysia. (Around 100km radius of forest.)
They are so rare that experts aren’t quite sure which habitat types they prefer, specifically. They have been spotted in a few different places, but the sightings tend to be isolated.
There are still a lot of mysteries left in this life, and this snail is one of them.
Are Fire Snails Extinct?
No, they are not extinct. They are not classed as an endangered species, either; although some argue that they should be.
These snails grow in a specific, remote, and rugged habitat in Malaysia. They’re hard to find even when you’re trying to. There’s not a lot of information on the internet about this black shell snail because of that. They’re elusive and, despite the bright colouration, hard to find.
Where Do Fire Snails Live?
In the ‘wild’, this snail lives only in a small, 100km radius forest of Malaysia. You might find a few individuals in captivity around the world, but they are incredibly difficult to take of. They are also hard to get hold of. The ones that do make an appearance are hunted down and captured for the exotic international pet trade and avid collectors. Many of them do not survive the journey.
Gastropod experts do not know how many of these snails live in the wild, nor where their native habitats are in the forests. Not even exotic pet collectors or hunters know their exact Peninsula habitat. That’s how rare they are.
How Big Are Fire Snails?
This is a big snail. Not quite as big as the Giant African land snail, but still pretty big.
The black shell of Platymma tweediei typically reaches 2.5 inches (7cm) in diameter.
Experts and scientists are unsure just how big this snail can reach because so few specimens have been found to measure. It could potentially grow larger (or stay smaller) than this.
Fire Snail Lifespan
The lifespan of this snail is often quite short in captivity. They require such specific (and largely unknown) conditions to survive. Even experienced keepers can have difficulty with this gorgeous gastropod.
Are Fire Snails Poisonous?
No, fire snails are not poisonous.
Animals with bright and vibrant colors are often associated with venom or toxicity – but this is not the case here. Platymma isn’t poisonous, venomous, or toxic, but it sure is cool!
Can You Keep a Fire Snail as a Pet?
It is possible to keep a fire snail as a pet, but you’d need to actually find one first. Not only that, they are notoriously difficult to care for and keep alive.
Fire snails are not recommended for novice snail enthusiasts or beginner-level exotic pet keepers. Not even this creature’s diet is fully understood.
What Do Fire Snails Eat?
These snails are thought to eat algae and plants found in the forests of Malaysia, much like other local, native gastropods.
Is Platymma Tweediei (Fire Snail) Legal in the US?
For the most part, there are no laws in place to say that you can’t own this gastropod as a pet in the US; however, you may need to apply for permits to be able to get the snail shipped to you. Some places may even require you to have an exotic pet license first.
Check with your local state or county animal department before purchasing. (This is probably a smart idea before transporting any kind of potentially exotic critter into or within the country!)
What is the Ideal Fire Snail Habitat?
The ideal habitat for this snail is a very specific, 100km radius of beautiful, thick forests, around 800 meters above sea level, in an environment that is cool but humid. Being one of the largest mollusks in the area, they like plenty of roaming land. (And they don’t like to be found!)
Warning For Exotic Pet Keepers
Before you go on a hunt to add Platymma tweediei to your collection, it is important to remember that it is not a species suitable for beginners. They are notoriously difficult to take care of, and there is very little information for you to refer to.
Dean is a veterinarian specialized in molluscs , with over 12 years of experience working with a variety of species. He is Escargot World “secret agent” in the UK, creating content about the life of snails and snail farming in the UK.