Snail stories

Dwarf pond snail shells - these are at least 10 x life size. This species is only about half a centimetre high. If you've got bigger ones than this, they're not dwarf pond snails.

Dwarf pond snail shells - these are about 10 x life size. This is one of the two kinds of snail that have colonised my garden pond naturally. This snail is only about half a centimetre tall so if you have snails bigger than this they're a different kind. There are 6 other snails found in ponds in Britain that look similar to the dwarf pond snail - just bigger.

The internet is an almost inexaustible source of myths and misinformation about ponds and pond wildlife. Here’s today’s offering – which I suspect is quite widely repeated.

‘Molluscs will not usually come naturally [to your pond] and you will have to buy them from an aquatic garden centre. ‘

Is this true?

If you look around the countryside its obvious that water snails do colonise new ponds without help from people. But what about in gardens?

So often people add plants and animals there’s no way of telling what has come under its own steam.

So when I built my pond I added nothing – no plants, no animals, not even water (it came from the sky).

Now 18 months on I have two species of water snail: the dwarf pond snail and the whirlpool ram’s-horn.

As far as I can tell I have not added these animals. I don’t know how they made it to the pond.

Brought in by amphibians? Carried by passing birds? Both are possible.

One thing is certain: I didn’t need to go to a garden centre to get them.



2 Responses to “Snail stories”

  1. Peter Burnett Says:

    My new pond, made early spring and only planted with a few oxygenating plants has suddely come alive with snails. Did not see any over the summer but just as some early leaves were coming off the nearby Ash tree I spotted a few snails. After a windy night I thought i would remove a portion of the leaf fall floating on the surface but then found them to be covered in small snails. Each leaf having several new inhabitants. Even a crab apple that had landed in the pond had about 10 clinging to it by the time I saw it.

    With that kind of abundance I wont be removing any of the leaves I think, I would certainly relocate some snails in the process.

  2. PondDragon Says:

    In gardens I’d imagine that most ponds get colonised by snails introduced with plants. In most cases, I think that any snails added deliberately are likely to be either Great Pond Snails or Great Ramshorns, whether from a garden centre or a friend’s pond – can’t be many garden centres selling Dwarf Pond Snails, although there’s likely to be all sorts of things living in their stock tanks.

    In your case, could it be possible that these species arrived inadvertently on e.g. pond nets or footware?

    Going back to your pond, having followed your account of it’s construction and progress, it would be interesting if you could post some recent photos of it now and over the summer. Did it dry out completely this year?

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