The Lymnaeidae is a family of gastropods, commonly called the pond snails. These animals are quite common in European rivers, lakes, and ponds. The large freshwater snails also live in garden ponds and aquaria where they are often introduced involuntarily with water plants, but also many people like to have them and so put them into their ponds on purpose. The snails are famous for their shells which often have a beautiful color and showy patterns
However, not all pond snails have such a lovely shell. In the case of some species from North America and Mexico, this is not only true for the shell: the entire snail is colored in an ugly shade of yellow-brown to brown and has a rather disgusting pattern on its skin.
The snail is much larger than the common species from Europe. It easily reaches 4 centimeters in diameter and can weigh as much as 35 grams! Thus, it is one of the largest snails that occur in the wild and certainly belongs to the biggest gastropods in the world. Only the Giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) can rival it in size. This snail inhabits large parts of Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina.
Interesting is that its shell, though bigger than the one of most pond snails, is less colorful. Often they are golden brown with a golden sheen. Yet there are some populations in which the shell is orange to dark red. The most spectacular individuals come from Honduras and Mexico where it has an intense color with strong reflections. Except for its size, there is nothing really spectacular about this snail.
It has clearly recognizable anatomy and behavior. The shell is conoidal (pointed at both ends) and it bears relatively small but sharp protrusions all over the surface. These projections may be white or orange and give the shell a rather rough look that helps camouflage it among the rocks. The shell has a thick layer of nacre and often bears light or darker lines on the spiral side as well as various patterns. Some shells are so heavily patterned that it is difficult to see their original color.
The snail's flesh is dark brown with longitudinal blackish stripes and small yellow dots; this makes it appear even more disgusting. The mantle covers almost the entire shell and is orange to dark red in color. Its tentacles are relatively short but very visible because of their white or yellowish color. The species feeds on vegetation found in shallow water, including different types of algae, aquatic grasses, and dead leaves from the margins of rivers and ponds.
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