Author: Mike Dodd

Ever seen a hairy snail?

Updated Thursday, 31st May 2007
Mike Dodd finds a hairy snail and a link between Ireland and Milton Keynes.

This page was published over 14 years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy.

Hairy snail
Hairy snail.

Ever seen a hairy snail? Last evening I was out with the local natural history group on a scrubby ex industrial site dodging the showers when I came across one of the little beasties. Well tiny might be a better description as they are about the size of a small fingernail, I only noticed it as I was on the ground lining up another, much larger, brown lipped snail for a photo.

Snails are the next big thing at least for a bunch of evolutionary biologists who are putting together a website to be launched in a couple of months. The general public will be able to enter their records of different striping patterns and colours of brown lipped snails (the common stripy ones you get in gardens). Thousands of records of this type of snail going back 100 years have been collected and they now want to see if the numbers of different forms of this snail have changed, perhaps as the result of the decline in the numbers of their predators such as the song thrush.

One of the people in the natural history group spotted the dark brown form of the snail which I was delighted to see as they are supposed to be rare in this part of the country (Milton Keynes), they are commoner in Ireland. I explained this and she was very proud to have found it, but then lots of other people started finding them too and were joking that we had been transported to Ireland without realising. 

I have now told the experts about the site and we will have to look at it more carefully, perhaps it is just the particular mix of bushy habitats that have developed at the site which favour the brown form. Or, more interestingly, perhaps there has been a general country wide change in the frequencies of the different types since the last big surveys which were done quite a few years ago.


Become an OU student



Ratings & Comments

Share this free course

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?