Roman Snail Helix pomatia

Scientific Name: Helix pomatia (a terrestrial gastropod mollusc in the family  Helicidae).

English Name: Roman Snail; Burgundy Snail (a land snail).

French Name: L'Escargot de Bourgogne (='Burgundy snail'); sometimes le gros blanc (='big white') or l'escargot de Champagne (='Champagne snail').

5 Key Characters:
  • large (30 - 50 mm across).
  • light brown shell with 5-6 whorls. 
  • hibernates or estivates by creating a calcareous stopper to seal body inside the shell.
  • margin of opening is white.

Lookalikes: Garden Snail Cornu aspersa, which is smaller, with a darker shell with more distinct markings.

Habitat: Forests, gardens and vineyards on cool damp calcareous soil (calcium carbonate is required for building their shell). They dislike direct sunlight and heavy rain.

Adult Active Period: Mature after 2 - 5 years and may live 20 years. Hermaphroditic, mating in May and laying eggs in soil in June-July. They are active mainly from sunset to midnight.

Status: Rare and protected now in France due to modern drainage projects and general habitat destruction. This is the most famous of the edible snails and in France was threatened by commercial collection. Now collecting for the table is permitted only from July to March, to allow the species to breed. Only snails bigger than 3 cm across may be collected. If you see Escargot de Bourgogne on a menu in France the chances are the snails have come from Eastern Europe. Snails should be consumed by humans with caution, as they are a bio-accumulator of plant toxins. Birds, toads, ground beetles, glow-worm larvae, hedgehogs, centipedes, mice and shrews will eat them.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

A mature specimen encountered crossing the driveway at the Chateau of Candé and moved to under the laurel hedge for its own safety.

No comments:

Post a Comment