Grove snails, much like many other gastropod species, have a variety of names. You may not have heard of a ‘grove snail’ at all. In fact, you may know it better as one of the following:
- Lemon snail
- Brown-lipped snail
- Banded snail
- Cepaea nemoralis – its scientific name
- White-lipped snails (incorrectly)
In some parts of the world, this snail is an incredibly common one… but not everywhere. One thing is for sure about the incredible species, though: it can be mighty bright in color! (The name ‘lemon snail’ gives the game away a little bit.)
Please allow me to introduce you to the sometimes very bright, large, and intriguing grove snails.
What Are Grove Snails?
Grove snails are ‘terrestrial’ snails, which means they live on land. They are also pulmonate snails, which means they breathe air through a lung. Adaptable and with simple needs, they can survive in a range of habitats and have even been shown in scientific studies to acknowledge pain. Their pain threshold goes down at night, according to those same studies.
How Big do Grove Snails Get?
These snails are classed as ‘large’, although they certainly aren’t as large as giant African land snails. The shells grow to between 0.7 to 1-inch (1.8 to 2.5 cm) in width and 0.5 to 0.9-inch (1.2 to 2.2 cm) in height.
British grove shells have an average diameter of between 0.8 to 1-inch (2 to 2.4 cm).
What Do Grove Snails Look Like?
There are so many different colors and patterns of grove snail these days, it would probably be easier to ask what they DON’T look like! Once upon a time, there was a name for every kind of color variation, but the naming system was abandoned because there was so many different designs!
In terms of color, shells can be:
- Yellow (hence ‘lemon snail’)
Some will have stripes or bands of a darker shade or color, and they will usually have either 4.5, 5, or 5.5 swirls on the shell, which are referred to as whorls.
The lip of the shell is usually brown, hence the name ‘brown-lipped snail,’ but grove snails have been found with a white lip. (As if the gastropod world wasn’t already complicated enough!)
How Long Do Grove Snails Live?
Grove or brown-lipped snails are thought to live up to eight years in ideal conditions, but the average falls between three to five years. Some experts argue that the average is even lower than that: two and a half years.
In captivity, with plenty of food, zero predators, and everything else it needs to live a happy and healthy life, there is a chance that a grove snail could live for up to ten years and beyond.
Where Do Grove Snails Live?
In the ‘wild,’ this snail can be found in several places, more commonly in woodlands and forests, in coastal regions (especially sand dunes), in areas of high-vegetation and shrub, and even in parks and residential gardens. British grove snails have a preference for damp… which is good because the country is damp eighty percent of the time.
In some parts of Europe, specifically western countries, this species is one of the most encountered. Interestingly, the species seems to prefer different types and heights of habitat in different countries. For example, they are found up to 600 meters in altitude in Scotland, but higher in Wales – up to 900 meters; and even higher in areas such as the Pyrenees – 1,000 meters and above.
What Do Grove Snails Eat?
These gastropods are classed as the following:
In layman’s terms, they eat mostly plant material; mostly dead, aging, or deteriorating leaves of plants rather than healthy ones. They have been noted to eat wood.
Can You Keep Grove Snails as Pets?
If you are willing to give grove snails the habitat, food, water, enrichment, and other resources that it needs, there’s nothing to stop you from giving one or more grove snails a loving home. These along with garden snails are common ‘starter snails’ for terrariums and other terrestrial-based habitats. (In the areas they are found.)
Do Grove Snails Hibernate?
Not all brown-lipped snails hibernate but it is quite common for them to do so. If they will hibernate, it’ll be during winter, when temperatures are cooler. If the weather gets a little nicer and warmer during the winter, the gastropods will likely wake up and then go back to hibernating again if it turns chillier.
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a wonderful life to me. I wouldn’t mind sleeping away all the cold spells.
Grove Snail Breeding: Is It Hard?
It isn’t necessarily difficult to get grove snails to breed, but you will need at least two sexually mature adults to get the job done.
This snail is a hermaphrodite, but unlike self-compatible hermaphroditic bladder snails, a solo grove snail cannot do the jobs of both partners. There must be two snails – one to assume the job of male, and another to assume the job of female.
Females (the female-assuming individual) can often keep hold of sperm for a while after mating, which means they might not lay eggs when you expect them to. For the same reason, a single female grove snail can lay eggs that have been fathered by different males (male-assuming). The average female will have two mates per breeding ‘season’, of which there can be two in one year.
Grove Snail Eggs
The female will lay up to 80 eggs over up to three days, but the quantity appears to depend on where the snail lives, just as with altitude. French groves sit on the upper end of the scale – around 45 to 80 eggs. British snails, on the other hand, lay fewer – between 25 and 50 eggs.
These terrestrial eggs are tiny and oval-shaped, only reaching a maximum diameter of 3mm. Tiny grove snails will hatch out of them around 2 to 3 weeks later. This snail likes to bury its eggs, so there’s a chance you may not spot them until the juveniles hatch.
Fact: On average, 23 grove snails are believed to survive past juvenile age each year.
Grove snails, compared to other gastropod species, are quite slow to mature. Once again, though, this does depend on where the snails live. France-borne groves reach sexual maturity at around one year of age. Snails from other areas, and particularly Britain, take up to three times longer and won’t reach maturity until three years of age.
Grove Snail vs White-Lipped Snails: How to Tell the Difference
Grove snails are also known as brown-lipped snails, which gives you some idea of the difference between the two similar species. The brown-lipped specimens usually have a brown lip on their shells. The white-lipped ones, as you might have guessed, have a white lip.
However, some grove snails do have white lips these days, so you can’t use that as a definitive rule. As full-grown adults, brown-lipped snails are usually slightly larger than their white-lipped cousins.
Are Grove Snails Rare?
No, grove snails are not rare in their native habitats and locations. They have managed to travel around the world, however, and some of them have set up home. In areas where they have been introduced, populations can be incredibly low and would, therefore, class them as rare. It’s only because they don’t ‘belong’ there, though.
Are Grove Snails Poisonous?
No, grove snails are not thought to be poisonous. They do have the potential to carry and transmit a disease-causing pathogen that causes canine angiostrongyliasis in dogs, however. The parasitic nematode Angiostrongyliasis vasorum is known more commonly as French heartworm.
Are Grove Snails Invasive?
No, grove snails are not considered an invasive species. Unlike other species, like giant African land snails, they require a mate to reproduce. Not only that but they have been slow to establish themselves in areas they have been deliberately introduced, such as Poland and North America.
Pain studies: ADW: Cepaea nemoralis: INFORMATION (animaldiversity.org)