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Helix pomatia, a species of land snail

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Helix pomatia, common names the Burgundy snail, Roman snail, edible snail or escargot, is a species of large, edible, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Helicidae. It is a European species.

This species is frequently farmed, and is called by the French name escargot when it is used in cooking. [1][2]Cooked snails are called escargot

ContentsEdit

[hide] *1 Distribution

[edit] DistributionEdit

[3][4]Distribution map of Helix pomatia showing the European countries where the species is presentDistribution of Helix pomatia include:

south-eastern and central Europe:[3]

Western Europe:

Northern Europe:

  • Denmark – Listed as a protected species.[citation needed]
  • south Sweden[3]
  • Norway[3]
  • Finland[3]
  • In central and southern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland, there are isolated and relatively small populations. It is not native to these countries, but is likely to have been imported by monks from Southern Europe during medieval times.

Eastern Europe:

southern Europe:

[edit] DescriptionEdit

[5][6]Apertural and abapertural view of a shell of Helix pomatia[7][8]Reproductive system of Helix pomatiaThe shell is creamy white to light brownish, often with indistinct brown colour bands.[3] The shell has 5–6 whorls.[3] The aperture is large.[3] The apertural margin is white and slightly reflected in adult snails.[3] The umbilicus is narrow and partly covered by the reflected columellar margin.[3]

The width of the shell is 30–50 mm.[3] The height of the shell is 30–45 mm.[3]

[edit] EcologyEdit

[edit] HabitatEdit

In south-eastern Europe Helix pomatia lives in forests and open habitats, gardens, vineyards, especially along rivers, confined to calcareous substrate.[3] In central Europe in open forests and shrubland on calcareous substrate.[3] It prefers high humidity and lower temperatures, needs loose soil to burrow in order to hibernate and lay its eggs.[3] It lives up to 2100 m in the Alps, usually below 2000 m.[3] In south England it is restricted to undisturbed grassy or bushy wastelands, usually not in gardens, with a low reproduction rate and low powers of dispersal.[3]

[edit] Life cycleEdit

Average distance of migration reaches 3.5–6 m.[3]

This snail is hermaphroditic. Reproduction in central Europe occurs from end of May onwards.[3]


[9]A pair of Helix pomatia in courtship, shortly before mating [10][11]Drawing of head of mating Helix pomatia with everted penis and dart sac shooting a love dart [12]Drawing of Helix pomatia laying eggs

Eggs are laid in June and July, in clutches of 40–65 eggs.[3] The size of the egg is 5.5–6.5 mm[3] or 8.6 × 7.2 mm.[7] Juveniles hatch after 3–4 weeks, and may consume their siblings under unfavourable climate conditions.[3] Maturity is reached after 2–5 years.[3] The life span is up to 20 years.[3] 10 year-old individuals are probably not uncommon in natural populations.[3] The maximum lifespan is 35 years.[3]

During estivation or hibernation, this species creates a calcareous epiphragm in order to seal the opening of the shell.


[13][14]Drawing of helix pomatia during hibernation. [15][16]Photo of the shell with an epiphragm. [17][18]Epiphragm of Helix pomatia

[edit] ConservationEdit

This species is listed in IUCN red list as Least Concern.[8] Helix pomatia is threatened by continuous habitat destructions and drainage, usually less threatened by commercial collections.[3] There were many unsuccessful attempts to establish the species in various parts of England, Scotland and Ireland; it only survived in natural habitats in southern England, and is threatened by intensive farming and habitat destruction.[3] It is of lower concern in Switzerland and Austria, but in many regions there are restrictions on commercial collecting.[3]

[edit] In popular cultureEdit

In the 2005 film What Is It? several of these snails appear: some die by crushing, others by salting.

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