Snails are a diverse group of gastropod mollusks with over 40,000 species. Because of this, they have evolved to live in almost any environment you can think of, from the bottom of the ocean to the tops of mountains. Their unique coiled shells, slimy trails, and slow pace have made them famous in the history of nature, but what really amazes us are the largest snails in this family.
9 Largest snails
In this article, we’ll learn more about these species of snails, including how big they are, where they live, and some information to help identify them in their natural environments.
1. Australian trumpet
Scientific name: Syrinx aruanus
The Australian trumpet snail holds the title of being the largest and heaviest snail in the entire world. With its impressive sizes, this mollusk can reach lengths of up to 38 inches and can weigh up to 40 lbs. They can be found in the northern half of Australia, as well as in eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
These trumpet snails favor habitats that have sandy bottoms because that’s where they can find the polychaete worms that are their primary food source. The shell of the Australian trumpet is a light apricot color and has a shape similar to a spindle. You may also notice the whorls of its shell having a prominent keel.
2. Florida horse conch
Scientific name: Triplofusus giganteus
In the shallow marine waters of the Atlantic Ocean, one can observe the Florida horse conch, a species of snail that thrives amidst the sand and weeds. This is the largest snail in North America, and it measures a length of 23.81 inches.
These solitary creatures feed on large gastropods, and when food is scarce, some of them have been observed engaging in cannibalistic behavior. The juveniles’ shells are vibrant orange, while those of the adults are grayish-white to salmon orange.
3. Giant triton
Scientific name: Charonia tritonis
The enormous snail known as the giant triton, sometimes called the triton’s trumpet, may reach 23 inches. This species actively predates in its habitats and can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific Oceans, including the Red Sea. Giant tritons play a crucial role in maintaining the health of coral reefs as they’re the only primary predators of crown-of-thorns starfish.
These starfish pose a significant threat to reef-building corals, endangering the overall well-being of coral reefs. As a result, the presence of giant tritons proves to be extremely helpful in preserving these underwater environments.
4. Giant whelk
Scientific name: Penion maximus
The giant whelk, which can be found exclusively in Australia and Tasmania, stands out as one of the largest snails inhabiting the ocean. These species have intricate designs on their shells, which are characterized by an orange-brown coloration and can grow up to a length of 10 inches. Additionally, giant whelks prefer to reside on sandy seabeds, where they can eat mollusks, worms, barnacles, and mussels.
5. Giant African Land Snail
Scientific name: Achatina fulica
If you come across a huge snail in Africa, chances are it’s the Giant African land snail, known for its remarkable size that can reach up to a length of 8 inches. They have cone-shaped shells and can live in a variety of mild-climate environments.
Predators are the main cause of mortality for these giant snails, which can live up to 5 years. However, there have been observations of some individuals living up to 10 years. They rely on mating for reproduction because they can’t self-fertilize, and their offspring begin their solitary lives immediately once they hatch from their eggs.
6. Lissachatina (Achatine) Reticulata
Scientific name: Achatina reticulata
In the coastal region of Zanzibar, you’ll frequently encounter the Lissachatina (Achatine) Reticulata, a mollusk with a length of up to 6 inches. While leaves, fruits, and vegetables make up the bulk of their diet, they also eat feces and occasionally rotting animal carcasses.
Due to their inability to self-fertilize, these snails require a partner of the opposite sex in order to procreate, laying 350 eggs in a clutch. These species have a four to five-year lifespan and are also capable of storing partner sperm for many years.
7. Apple snails
Scientific name: Pomacea canaliculata
Not only can you find big snails in the ocean and on land, but some species, like apple snails, also live in freshwater. This snail family is widely known for its popularity as an aquarium pet due to its ability to clean tanks effectively, while also cohabiting with other animals within the aquarium.
The length of these creatures can extend up to 6 inches, and the particular species determines its shell color, although it normally consists of bands in shades of brown, black, and yellowish-tan.
8. Pink-lipped agate snail
Scientific name: Achatina immaculata
One of the larger species of snails is the pink-lipped agate snail, which is primarily found in Southeast Africa. Their length can reach up to 6 inches, and you can identify them by their shells, which have brownish hues and are adorned with distinctive striped patterns. The African culture has been utilizing the shells of pink-lipped agate snails for various purposes since the Iron Age, thus attributing significant importance to them.
9. Mediterranean Green Snail
Scientific name: Cantareus apertus
Mediterranean green snails, native to Europe primarily near the Mediterranean Sea and also North Africa, are terrestrial mollusks. Despite being among the largest snails on the planet and measuring about 4.7 inches in length, Mediterranean green snails are regarded as pests in the United States because they’re invasive species that harm natural ecosystems and agriculture. You can recognize them by the olive-green color of their shells, and they’re most commonly found in rainforests.