Burgundy Snail, Helix pomatia

The Burgundy Snail (Helix pomatia), known also as the Roman Snail, is an edible species of large, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk belonging to the family Helicidae. It’s a European species. It is called by the French name escargot when it is used in cooking.

This species can be found in Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, southwestern Bulgaria, northern and central Balkans, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Republic of Macedonia, Great Britain, central France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, southern Sweden, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldavia, the Ukraine, western Belarus, Russia, northern Italy, Greece, and Portugal.

The shell is a creamy white to light brownish color, often with indistinct brown colored bands. It has five to six whorls and the aperture is large. The apertural margin is white and faintly reflected in adult snails. The umbilicus is narrow and partially covered by the reflected columellar margin. The shell measures 30 to 50 millimeters wide and 30 to 45 millimeters high.

Within southeastern Europe, it resides in forests and open habitats, vineyards, gardens, particularly along rivers, confined to calcareous substrate. In central Europe, it can be found in open forests and shrubland on calcareous substrate. It shows a preference for high humidity and lower temperatures, and requires loose soil for burrowing to hibernate and lay eggs. It lives up to 2,100 meters above sea level within the Alps but normally below 2,000 meters. In southern England, it is restricted to undisturbed grassy or bushy wastelands, normally not in gardens; it has a low reproduction rate and low powers of dispersal.

The average distance of migration reaches 3.5 to 6.0 meters. The snail is hermaphroditic. Reproduction within central Europe takes place at the End of may. The eggs are laid in June and July in clutches of 40 to 65 eggs. The egg measures 5.5 to 6.5 millimeters or 8.6 by 7.2 millimeters. The juveniles hatch after three to four weeks and might consume their siblings under unfavorable climate conditions. Maturity is achieved after two to five years. The life span of these snails is up to twenty years. Ten year old individuals are most likely not uncommon in natural populations. The maximum lifespan is around 35 years. During aestivation or hibernation, this species creates a calcareous epiphragm to close the opening of the shell.

Image Caption: Burgundy Snail, Helix pomatia. Credit: Waugsberg/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)