Partula snail

Common Name: Partula snail

Scientific Name: Partula spp

Before their extinction in the wild, the Partula snail, also known as Polynesian tree snails, supported plant respiration and contributed to important nutrient recycling as part of the wider Polynesian ecosystem.

Partula snails stay firmly fixed to leaves during dry periods but come out when it rains to feed and mate.

The light and dark stripes on the Partula snails’ striped shells prevent them from drying out as well as improving camouflage from predators.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Three of the partula species we hold are Extinct in the Wild and one is Vulnerable

  • Size

    Shell size varies from around 12 mm for some species to almost 30mm in others

  • Weight

    Less than 1 g

  • Gestation

    3 months

  • Young


  • Life span

    Some species live for 17 years

In the wild

All partula snail species are mostly detritivores, which means that they eat rotting plant material.

These snails are found on many volcanic islands across the South Pacific. They live in forests on the stems, trunks and undersides of leaves of a wide variety of plants.

Most species of partula snail are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female reproductive organs and are able to self-fertilise. However, this is fairly rare, and they usually cross fertilise.  All species of partula snail are ovoviviparous, meaning that they give birth to live young after the fertilised embryo has developed within an egg in the parent’s body. The newborn snails measure from 1 to 2mm, and can reach adulthood in just 3 to 6 months.

The carnivorous Florida rosy wolf snail is the main predator of partula snails.

The Florida rosy wolf snail was introduced into the Pacific region in the 1970s to control the giant African land snail. This was another introduced species which was intended as a food source but had then become a crop pest.  Rosy wolf snails started to predate on partula snails instead of the land snails, with catastrophic consequences. Of the 77 species of partula snail, 51 became extinct and 11 only survive in captivity.  An international conservation programme was established in 1986.  As part of this, 25 species of partula snail became part of breeding programmes in Europe and North America.  In addition, programmes have been established to monitor the status of remaining wild populations and to work on the reintroduction of species that are extinct in the wild.

In order to conserve the remaining species of Partula snail, many were taken in to captivity where captive breeding programmes could be set up. These breeding programmes aim to restore numbers. Monitoring and restoration programs are also being put in place for the remaining wild populations and reserves are being created to protect them.

Meet Marwell's Partula snail

Meet Marwell's Partula snail

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