Cornwall Marvellous Mud Snails

(c) Martin Coard

Marvellous Mud Snails has contributed to the conservation of the Pond Mud Snail in Cornwall, and directly involved school children and local volunteers in survey, captive breeding, and habitat creation for this species. The project also benefited other species associated with small and temporary ponds.

The Pond Mud Snail (Omphiscola glabra) is a S41 Priority Species for conservation action in England that lives in temporary water bodies with low nutrients such as ponds, ditches and marshes. Pond mud snails are adapted to survive periodic drought by burying themselves into the mud, becoming inactive until their habitat becomes wet again.

Pond Mud Snail (Omphiscola glabra) © Jake Flood
Pond Mud Snail (Omphiscola glabra) © Jake Flood

The species was formerly fairly widespread in Cornwall, but the few recent records have been largely confined to the mid-Cornwall Moors and West Penwith.  For much of its former range the status of the species largely unknown.  At an international level, the Pond Mud Snail is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

The small, temporary ponds and other freshwater habitats that Pond Mud Snails rely upon are rarely protected and are often not recognised for their biodiversity value. Through habitat loss, damage and neglect, the Pond Mud Snail has disappeared from many of its former known locations across the UK.  Surveys for the snail in Cornwall show a decline in the county – it has only recently been recorded from four sites, a further eleven sites do not have any post-2000 records.

Adults of this particular snail are 12-20mm in height and like many other molluscs are hermaphrodites, meaning that each individual is capable of laying eggs. Typically, egg masses of between 10-30 eggs are laid in February and take up to 25 days to hatch.

Marvellous Mud Snails:

  • Re-established the status of the Pond Mud Snail in Cornwall by undertaking surveys across the county.
  • Started a captive breeding programme with local schools. Introducing schoolchildren to species conservation and demonstrating how they can do something hands-on in their classroom to help.
  • Created new habitats in the form of ponds or scrapes to introduce the captive-bred snails to. Habitats are easy to create and closely involved the participating schoolchildren and volunteer groups, reinforced the connection with a threatened species/habitats and how they themselves can play an active part in its conservation.

This project was funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Ernest Cooke Trust.

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