Types Of Snails

The name snail is most often applied to land snails, however, there are many different types of snails. In fact, there are over 4000 snail species that also includes different kinds of sea snails and freshwater snails.

Did you know that snails are gastropod mollusks that have shells and those without shells are known as slugs? Yes, a slug is a snail! Well, at least, they belong to the same class of animals. Mind-blowing!


Types of Land Snail

Let’s start by exploring some of the land snail types. However, you should know that some snails are amphibious types of animals. This means that that they can live on land and in water. These ones just prefer land more.

Giant African Land Snail

The giant African snail is an 8-inch long snail that’s originally native to Africa. However, they can now be found on every continent except for Antarctica. They are one of the largest snail species.

The giant African snail has a high reproduction rate and has an insatiable craving for crops and vegetation in general. These two things make them an invasive species of snail. Despite this fact, some people think that they make good pet snails.

Giant African Land Snail – Achatina Fulica

They have light to dark brown colored shells and some have vertical stripes on their shells that are usually a darker shade of brown. On average, a giant African land snail can live for 5 to 7 years. However, there’s evidence to suggest that they can live up to 10 years as well.

  • Scientific name: Achatina fulica
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Family: Achatinidae
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca

Garden Snail

Garden Snail.

Garden snails are a small species that grows to a length of up to 1.3 inches. These types of snails have a particular shell pattern that differentiates it from other species.

A garden snail’s shell is yellowish or cream-colored with brown spiral stripes. They are native to the Mediterranean region, Western Europe, part of Asia, and northern Egypt. It feeds on various types of fruit trees, vegetable crops, rose bushes, garden flowers, and cereals.

  • Scientific name: Cornu aspersum (formerly Helix aspersa)
  • Speed: 0.029 mph (Maximum, Adult)
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Family: Helicidae

Roman Snail

Roman Snail (Escargot).

Two third’s of a Roman snail’s weight is thanks to its beautiful shell. These species of snail were once only native to Europe. However, they can be found in most parts of the world nowadays. It prefers to live in temperate forests where the temperature is humid with little rainfall. It has a creamy to light brown shell with darker brown bands. The Roman snail also goes by the names burgundy snail or ‘edible snail’. It’s the snail the French use to make escargot!

  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Scientific name: Helix pomatia
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Family: Helicidae
  • Order: Stylommatophora
  • Kingdom: Animalia

Mediterranean Green Snail

These types of land snails are sometimes simply called green snails or green garden snails. They are native to Europe (near the Mediterranean sea) and Africa and live in rainforests. It can grow up to 5 inches in length. These snails feed on a wide range of plants like most leafy vegetables, cereal crops, pasture grasses, and native plants.

In the 1980s, the Mediterranean green snail was found infesting over 350 hectares of market gardens, suburban gardens and neighboring bush areas near Perth, Australia.

  • Scientific name: Cantareus apertus or Helix aperta
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Sub-order: Pulmonata
  • Family: Helicidae
  • Genus: Cantareus
  • Species: apertus

White Garden Snail

White Garden Snail

The white garden snail, sand hill snail, white Italian snail, Mediterranean coastal snail, or simply just the Mediterranean snail, is an edible species of medium-sized, air-breathing land snail.

  • Scientific name: Theba pisana
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Higher classification: Theba
  • Rank: Species
  • Family: Helicidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia

White-lipped Snail

The white-lipped snail or garden banded snail is a medium-sized species of air-breathing land snail. It has a glossy, smooth shell, which is typically yellow in color but may be pink, brown or red.

There are up to 5 variable spiral dark bands and nearly always has an obvious white lip around the shell opening.

White-lipped Snail

Milk Snail

Otala lactea, known as the milk snail or Spanish snail, is a large, edible species of air-breathing land snail. Its shell is whitish or brownish and has darker speckled stripes. It typically feeds on papaya, lily, anise, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, and yucca plants. This edible snail is often consumed in the Mediterranean region.

Types of Freshwater Snails

Freshwater snails are a popular type of pet snails that you can shop for on online fish stores for your aquarium. Here are the different types of freshwater snails.

Apple Snails

Apple snail is a general name for freshwater snails that you’d find in pet stores for freshwater aquariums. For example, the mystery snail (Pomacea bridgesii) is a species of Apple Snail. They come in many different colors including gold, tiger-striped, blue, or white. And, some have been known to grow up to 6 inches in length. I personally keep a few with my guppies.

Ampullariidae, common name the apple snails, is a family of large freshwater snails, aquatic gastropod mollusks with a gill and an operculum. 

  • Scientific name: Ampullariidae
  • Clutch size: Pomacea maculata: 2,000
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Rank: Family

Mystery Snails

These types of snails are safe to keep with any fish. Unlike most apple snails, mystery snails do not eat healthy plants. Instead, they eat algae and decaying plants. They also do not grow more than 3-inches in length.

Fun Fact: In terms of actual aquarium size, like many other snails a Gold Inca Snail can thrive in small established tanks, like 5 or 10-gallon aquariums, or in larger established tanks as well. These snails have many names including the spike-topped apple snail or gold Inca snail.

  • Scientific name: Pomacea bridgesii
  • Rank: Species
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Higher classification: Pomacea

Golden Apple Snail

Pomacea canaliculata, Golden Apple Snail.

This freshwater snail is also known as the channeled apple snail. Their shells have 5 to 6 whorls which are separated by a deep, indented suture (channels).

They are native to South America but have since spread to Asia and other parts of the world. In fact, the channeled apple snail is a serious pest of rice throughout many countries of Southeast Asia.

  • Scientific name: Pomacea canaliculata
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population increasing)
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Higher classification: Pomacea

Colombian Ramshorn Apple Snail

Paradise Snail.

Ramshorn snails are also known as the paradise snail. Their shell color varies from pale to darker red or brown or more vivid shades of those colors and is often striped. They too are common aquarium snails. These are a common species of snail are at local pet stores for your aquarium.

Fun Fact: This species has gills as well as a lung, to ensure efficient underwater respiration even in a condition of low levels of dissolved oxygen.

  • Scientific name: Marisa cornuarietis
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Rank: Species
  • Higher classification: Marisa
  • Family: Ampullariidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia

Types of Sea Snails

Sea snails include abalones, dogwinkles, periwinkles, whelks, and limpets, all belonging to a large mollusk group, called gastropods, with over 50,000 species of snails and slugs.

Common Periwinkle Snail

Common periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

The common periwinkle or winkle is a species of small edible whelk or sea snail. These snails can sometimes be seen hiding in tidal pools, the cracks in-between rocks or under seaweed.

Their shell is smooth and brown to brownish-gray in color and up to about 1 inch long. Their diet consists mainly of algae which they scrape from rocks.

  • Scientific name: Littorina littorea
  • Class: Gastropoda
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Family: Littorinidae

Common Whelk

These types of snails are large and have waved shells which led to their alternative name, the waved buccinum. Their shells vary in color and can be very pale, white, yellowish or reddish.

Buccinum undatum – Common Whelk.

This species of whelk feeds on live bivalves, and are, in turn, preyed upon by several fish (catfish, dogfish, etc.) as well as lobsters and crabs. Also, humans eat them as well. The French refer to them as bulot.

  • Scientific name: Buccinum undatum
  • Family: Buccinidae
  • Phylum: Mollusca
  • Higher classification: Buccinum
  • Rank: Species
  • Class: Gastropoda


Limpets are aquatic snails with a shell that is broadly conical in shape and a strong, muscular foot. Although all limpets are members of the class Gastropoda, limpets are polyphyletic, meaning the various groups which are referred to as “limpets” have descended independently from different ancestral gastropods.

  • Patella vulgata – Patella vulgata, common name the common limpet or common European limpet is an edible species of sea snail.
Patella vulgata – Common Limpet.
  • Owl limpet – or Lottia gigantea resides in mussel beds and on bare rock in the middle to high rocky intertidal zone. This narrow, vertical zone is covered by high tide.
Lottia gigantea/Owl Limpet.
  • Cellana exarata – common name the black-foot opihi and Hawaiian blackfoot is a species of edible limpet.
Black-foot opihi and Hawaiian blackfoot – Cellana Exarata.
  • Patella caerulea –  common names Mediterranean limpet and rayed Mediterranean limpet.
Mediterranean limpet / rayed Mediterranean limpet
  • Patella pellucida – common name the blue-rayed limpet, is a species of small saltwater limpet.
Blue-rayed limpets (Patella pellucida)