The Australian snail – a true friend indeed

By Jeff Howes

A few years ago I had quite a few native snails in one part of my northern Sydney garden and now they are gone. A pity as the species I had was carnivorous and fed on the introduced garden snails (Cantareus asperses, which are from Europe).

I have no idea where they came from or where they have gone. Maybe it is because I now have no introduced snails in my garden and as a result no food for the native snails anymore.

Keep an eye out for them if your garden backs onto bushland as they are the ‘good guys’ and deserve to be encouraged.

Native snail front and back view, image Jeff Howes

Some snail science

Australia has about 2,000 species of native snails and slugs, none of which cause problems to garden plants. Some are even carnivorous, feeding on introduced garden snails.

A snail’s body consists of a foot, a head with a mouth and tentacles, a shell and a coiled visceral mass (the snail’s organs), which is contained within the shell. Most land snails have a blood vessel lined body cavity which functions as a lung so they can breath air.

Snails are hermaphrodites; they are equipped as both a male and female but it still takes two to mate. After mating, small clear or white eggs are laid in a moist position.