Classification: State Endangered
The Magnificent Ramshorn snail is a large airbreathing snail that lives in fresh water; they have lungs that allow them to extract oxygen from both air and water. They can grow up to 35 mm (1.4 in) wide and 20 mm (0.8 in) tall and have tan to brown shells with leopard-like spots. Their shells are relatively thin. The fleshy bodies found beneath the shells are usually maroon in color.
The Magnificent Ramshorn snail is an imperiled snail species endemic (found nowhere else in the world) to the lower Cape fear River Basin in North Carolina. The species is believed to be extirpated from the wild and currently exists in only three captive populations in the state. Their decline is attributed mostly to loss of their limited habitat due to degradation of water quality resulting from urbanization, with associated contaminants in stormwater and loss of riparian buffers.
Since 2004, multiple snail populations have been kept in captivity by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and partners. The NCWRC is working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and other partners to reintroduce the species to a pond in the wild. In addition, WRC is continuing to survey additional locations in the lower Cape Fear River basin looking for possible locations for secondary reintroductions, to establish additional wild populations and secure the species’ future.
Protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. No Magnificent Ramshorn snail can be collected or killed without a permit from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Distribution by County: Historically known from Brunswick County.
Magnificent Ramshorn snails prefer relatively still water, like lakes and ponds and may have historically occupied beaver ponds as well as mill ponds. They require neutral pH (around 7) and are salinity intolerant (cannot survive in salt water). Magnificent Ramshorn snails feed on algae and bio film along with aquatic vegetation such as spatterdock and water lily. They also use these plants to hide in and lay their eggs on leaves and stems.
Magnificent Ramshorn snails are hermaphroditic (individuals have both male and female sex organs) and they reproduce year-round when in captivity with consistent temperatures. In outdoor environments, they will spawn from April to October producing egg clutches of 20-30 eggs. The eggs hatch in 14-25 days depending on temperature. They are mature at 4 to 6 months of age and have a lifespan of 2-3 years.
Restoring Aquatic Species