Quick facts

Common name(s): white-lipped snail, white-lipped garden snail

Scientific name: Cepea hortensis

Family: Helicidae

Habitat: grassland, woodland edges, gardens

Predators: birds, amphibians

Origin: native

What do white-lipped snails look like?

The white-lipped snail's shell is smooth and shiny, with several spirals of varying sizes. It ranges in colour from yellow to pink, brown or red, and has a white band around the opening. Its body is dull grey, usually becoming yellow towards the rear.

Length: 1.6-2.2cm

Not to be confused with: the brown-lipped snail which, though very similar, has a brown lip to its shell rather than white.

What do white-lipped snails eat?

These snails enjoy a diet of ragwort, nettles and hogweed.

Did you know?

In some parts of the world, snail eggs are eaten as 'snail caviar' or 'white caviar'.

How do white-lipped snails breed?

White-lipped snails have both male and female reproductive organs, and are able to self-fertilise. However, they need to mate for this to happen.

The breeding season takes place from spring to autumn. Courtship begins with a snail piercing the skin of its partner with a 'love dart' made of calcium carbonate. Once this ritual has taken place mating can begin. The snails then part ways and both partners lay their eggs buried in soil.

One clutch is usually over 100 eggs strong and takes around a month to hatch. Juvenile snails have a soft shell which hardens and grows with them as they mature.

Credit: Georgette Douwma / naturepl.com

Where do white-lipped snails live?

The white-lipped snail is found year round in warm, damp conditions in woods, grasslands and hedges all over the country.

Signs and spotting tips

Look out for the white-lipped snails after rain in damp places. You can find them in woodland, grassland and even your garden. They are widespread and common, but you've got an even better chance of spotting them on the Scottish coast.

Threats and conservation

The white-lipped snail is not currently considered under threat.