Cantareus aspersus Minimize

January 2002. Niue intercepted a snail on a container from New Zealand and asked for its identification. It is the Brown garden snail, now called Cantareus aspersus (Muller), formerly Helix aspersus. It is of European origin, but is now widespread, being found in North & South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. It is one of the species that is edible, though smaller than the Roman Snail, Helix pomatia, which is the true French 'escargot'. It's secretions are reported to be used in skin care. However it is regarded as a minor pest of vegetables in gardens in New Zealand and elsewhere, so unless you have a large hungry (French) populations, it is best to eradicate it. It was introduced into New Zealand around the 1860s, and is now one of the commonest and most widespread of the naturalised land snails. It feeds on a large number of living and dead plant tissues.
 
Information about it is summarised in Gary Barker's 1999 contribution Naturalised terrestrial Stylommatophora (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Fauna of New Zealand 38.  Colour photographs of this species and others can be viewed under "Colour Plates" at:
 
www.landcare.cri.nz/mwpress/Catalogue/Zoology/Faunaofnz/Extracts/fnz38ind.html

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