This delicate and beautiful water snail, with a translucent shell covered by its jelly-like mantle, is now found in just one lake in the UK.
The Glutinous Snail looks pretty similar to the very common Wandering Snail. However it is one of the most endangered animals in Europe. Quite uniquely, the snail extends an almost transparent jelly-like mantle to cover its exceptionally thin and delicate shell. This gives it a glassy look and makes it sticky to the touch, hence its name.
Distribution and threats
It is now found at just one lake in the UK. It is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and is listed under Section 41/42 of the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act. Across Europe it is rapidly declining and has already become extinct in some countries. Ireland may be a stronghold still, although it is probably also declining there.
Until the 1990’s a second population were known from a pond on the edge of Oxford, the famous Kennington Pit and the last known site in England. However, this once widespread species has not been seen since the mid-90s at this site and is now officially extinct in England. In the UK it is now only found in one in Wales, where it is threatened by nutrient enrichment and invasive species.
The Glutinous Snail has become so endangered because it is one of the water snails that needs the cleanest water – although many snails seem quite tolerant of pollution, about a quarter of British species need the cleanest conditions. But as clean water is so rare now, for these species and the Glutinous Snail, the modern landscape has become really a very hostile place.