Helix pomatia – the Roman Snail

Rare and edible are perhaps not the ideal attributes for a snail to ensure its personal longevity. This is the classic French escargot, Helix pomatia, also known as the Roman Snail, Escargot or Burgundy Snail. Luckily, where it has more culinary attraction on mainland Europe, it is farmed to produce the numbers required for gastronomic purposes. 
In our little patch of Hertfordshire it is reasonably common in the chalky grass banks, verges and fields, though it is in fact classified as rare in the UK and legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This is Britain’s largest snail, though the fossil record gives up no specimens, suggesting a ‘recent’ introduction probably by the Romans who also brought the rabbit to England as an easily manageable and available food source.
Distribution information is patchy and a consolidated map of distribution shows a liking for the geography, geology and environment of south and south-east England. 
Helix Pomatia distribution (1990-98)
It would  be interesting to gather locations of any UK sightings for consolidation. This can be done on a site like inaturalist.org, or by posting a sighting as a comment here, along with a postcode which I can then transfer onto inaturalist or a map.#
I’ll look to share the other molluscs of the Badger’s Eye patch, but for now, thanks to Skye Wilkinson for the photo which inspired me to go digging for information in the first place.

Map Data Sources 

Mollusc (non-marine) data for Great Britain and Ireland – Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Invertebrate Site Register – England (via the NBN Gateway).

2 Comments

  1. Roman snails in abundance along footpath verge feeding on rotting vegetation today, 5/7/15, following recent very warm weather and heavy rain. Chalk downland area: White Hill bridleway W of Caterham, Surrey, between J7 and 6 of M25

  2. Thanks for posting the sighting.

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