Marvellous Mud Snails

‘Marvellous Mud Snails’ was an exciting public engagement project that created a healthier and more resilient population of the Pond mud snail in Scotland.

The Pond mud snail (Omphiscola glabra) is known from only seven sites in Scotland, all in different local authority areas, including Clackmannanshire, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Falkirk. Historically, this species of snail was widespread throughout lowland areas of England, Wales and recorded as far north as Perth in Scotland.

The small, temporary and nutrient poor pools that these snails prefer are rarely protected and are seen as inferior habitats that are difficult to manage. These temporary habitats support other scarce species such as the Oxbow diving beetle (Hydroporus rufifrons) that, like the Pond mud snail are specially adapted to survive periodic drought by burying into the mud becoming inactive until their habitat becomes wet again.

Reasons for the snails decline include the loss or degradation of temporary ponds through infilling, conversion of pools into productive agricultural land, the improvement of sites visually for landscape purposes, pollution from agricultural run-off, encroachment of scrub and the enlargement of small ponds to create permanent water bodies. Incomplete knowledge of the distribution of the species has inhibited their conservation and this is partially due to living in under-recorded habitats. The Pond mud snail is classified as Vulnerable in the UK Red Data Books and is on the Scottish Biodiversity List.

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 has done three things to help conserve Pond mud snails in Scotland:
1. Education – The profile of Pond mud snails was raised through entertaining and educational events with schools and community groups.
2. Pond mud snail survey – We have increased our current knowledge of their distribution in Scotland by working with schools and volunteers to look for and record the species. We surveyed old sites, potential new sites and areas that the snails used to be found in. A better understanding of their distribution has helped to enhance our ability to conserve them and their habitat.
3. Captive Breeding Programme – Schools were invited to be involved with a captive breeding programme of the snails which has help boost numbers of the species across Scotland at current, historic and new suitable sites! Captive bred snails were released at four new ponds in East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Midlothian.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project, including the landowners and managers who are lucky enough to have Pond mud snails on their sites.

This project was funded through Heritage Lottery FundNorth Lanarkshire CouncilClackmannanshire Council and East Dunbartonshire Council.

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