Molluscs are not generally well recorded so all records are gratefully received. Perhaps its the lack of popular field guides or maybe they lack the appeal of some other groups, but molluscs are frequently encountered and many can be identified from a reasonable photo. There are only around 130 known species in VC55, divided into slugs, terrestrial snails and aquatic snails, so it is a group that you can become familiar with fairly quickly and learn to identify many of the larger and more common species without too much difficulty. As with all groups there are some trickier species and a few of the snails are very small (1-2mm) and really need a microscope to identify them, but for the majority a good photo, or even better several photos, should be enough to get an ID. You can submit photos to NatureSpot that you want help with to identify - just select '? unknown species' from the drop down menu.
Photographs to support records
Here are a few tips of the features it helps to photograph. Also add a note to your record about size - this is often crucial information.
- a dorsal or oblique view of the whole animal - showing the keel if it has one and ideally with the head/tentacles extended
- a side view from the right side showing the breathing pore
- the sole (some have a central dark stripe or dark edges)
- whilst not easily photographed, the colour of the mucus can be important so stroke the slug and examine the slime on your finger!
- a dorsal or oblique view of the whole animal - showing the number of whorls and ideally with the head/tentacles extended
- the underside - showing the mouth opening and the umbilicus (the hole in the centre)
- a side view - the height of the shell is often a key feature
- some aquatic snails have an operculum - a shell-lid that closes over the mouth when they withdraw inside
You can submit up to four photos with a record. You don't need to resize them, the computer will do this automatically as it uploads a copy.
The majority of snails, both terrestrial and aquatic, can be identified from just the shell. It is often easier to find empty shells than the live animal and it is generally acceptable to record the species based on finding the shell. So if you come across shells whilst out and about do collect them and note where you found them. Aquatic snail shells can often be found amongst flood debris, or on the exposed margins of a water body during a drought. Again photos are invaluable to help provide evidence to support your record and/or to help identify the species.
There are some excellent identification resources available, some of which are free downloads. See the Resources - Slugs and Snails page for details.