Terrarium Snails

2022 February 20

Our 2-gallon terrariums have been closed systems for a long time, at least 3 years now. Maybe as much as 6 years. The plants inside are still alive and seem healthy enough. But, when we first started them they had a pretty extensive range of accidentally-introduced tiny invertebrates. Over time, the closed ecosystem has simplified a lot, but there is still evidence of what used to be there. Like these snail shells. The snails obviously died a long time ago, but the shells still persist.

These aren’t large, they are about half the diameter of a pencil eraser. The brown one was stuck to the terrarium wall, and the white one was down in the moss.

These were both terrestrial snails, but probably not the same species. The while one seems to have a tighter spiral with fewer turns.

As for identifying these, there is a problem. When we first put the terrariums together, we bought some live moss to serve as a base, and we really don’t know where that moss came from. So there is no guarantee that these snails are anything like the ones we have available locally. We do have little snails that resemble these living in our leaf-litter, but assuming that they are even in the same family would be kind of dubious. Like so many other things, the more minute the creatures become, the more different kinds there are, and the less chance there is that anyone took the time to document them. So other than knowing that these are “Pulmonate snails” (pulmonate means that they have lungs and breathe air), I don’t feel I should try to ID them any further than than.

3 Responses
  1. Tim permalink
    February 23, 2022

    How long do you think the snails have been dead for? The brown one has a dark section that seems like it might be still alive if revived with a bit of water.

  2. February 27, 2022

    I had wondered about that too. I ended up adding more water to the terrarium and returned the snail, just on the off chance that it was still alive.

  3. March 13, 2022

    The closed terrarium is a fascinating experiment. It’s a view into a world where something in the environment has changed drastically. For whatever reason, it made me think of the biospeheric changes that would come with a nuclear winter.

    Cheerful, I know.

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