Easter Eggs! Glutinous Snail 2015

2nd April 2015

No bunnies here – this year, our eggs have been delivered by the Easter Snail!

Myxas eggs croppedRare snails kept in captivity have laid eggs for the first time.

Work to establish a captive population of Glutinous Snails (Myxas glutinosa) began last year.  This interesting little snail, with a delicate shell covered in its jelly-like mantle, is now found in just one site in the UK.  As insurance against extinction, and to breed snails to establish new populations, our colleague Ian Hughes has set up a tank in his basement.  We are so pleased to hear the latest developments.

Ian reports:

“On Saturday mornings’s Myxas check I noticed that one of the snails, Kim*, was not on the usual rock and began to have a look around. Les was easily spotted on top of the ‘Plateau de la Semaine’ (Plât o’r wythnos in Welsh) but where was Kim? To my distress I found the diminutive Sam (who’s never easy to find) inside the ‘pump-house’ of the filter compartment. This is the first time this has happened and means Sam must have emerged from the water to get in there. But I digress…

A1“I have not removed a single stone since the snails went in there but have added two (very very carefully) to provide fresh ‘pure Llyn Tegid algae’. The last fresh stone went in on 18/3/15 and the two larger snails have been feeding on ‘a taste of Tegid’ (or Blas ar Tegid as the sailors of Bala might call it) almost continuously since. So to look for snails I look around the sides of the aquarium and peep under stones with a torch. In doing this I found, on the back wall of the aquarium, hidden beneath a rock, a clutch of snail eggs. This caused a little buzz of excitement as you can imagine but I still had not found Kim. I looked around the other side and there was Kim in the process of laying more eggs on the window side of the aquarium and, again, on the glass – 12 eggs to the clutch… a dozen eggs for Easter!

“I don’t want to count snailets yet but it is another step in the right direction.”

UPDATE: a third batch of eggs was laid on Easter Sunday!

We wait excitedly for further news, but we are also realistic – the eggs may not be fertilised, and may be vulnerable to temperature fluctuations, not enough oxygen etc, and could be predated by adults as they ripen.  There is a lot we don’t know about this species.  If it does work, it could be a world first for Glutinous Snails and a great step for conservation as it is one of Britain and Europe’s most threatened species.

 * The snails have been given randomly chosen genderless names. Pat is actually named after the late &  fabulous Pat (Muddy Fingers) Wisniewski with whom Ian first pipe-dreamed of a project to help Myxas.