List of non-marine molluscs of Ireland

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Location of the island of Ireland, with the Republic of Ireland marked in green

This list of the non-marine molluscs of Ireland comprises 165 species of non-marine molluscs which have been recorded as part of the fauna of Ireland. These are terrestrial and aquatic gastropods, and bivalves; the list does not include species of molluscs which are considered to be fully marine.

In other words: this list includes land snails and slugs, and freshwater and brackish water snails. It also includes freshwater mussels and freshwater clams, including some that can tolerate brackish water. Molluscs that are fully adapted to live in the sea are not included here.

Ireland is an island in the northeastern Atlantic. It consists of the Republic of Ireland, also known simply as Ireland (or in the Irish language Éire), and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

The mollusc fauna of the island of Ireland has not been as thoroughly researched as that of the island of Great Britain, and therefore it is possible that some uncommon and local species (whether native or introduced) may, as yet, have been overlooked. Even so, it seems that the non-marine molluscan fauna of Ireland is a smaller fauna than that of Great Britain.

This list is of land and freshwater molluscs only.[1] Some species of gastropods listed here (for example Peringia ulvae) live in habitats that are intermediate between freshwater and saltwater. Others live in habitats that are intermediate between land and saltwater. Both of these kinds of species are often also included in marine faunal lists.

In addition to the species that live naturally outdoors in Ireland, there are at least 2 aquatic gastropod species which live only in artificially-heated indoor environments such as aquaria in greenhouses. These are known as "hothouse aliens", and in this list they are not counted as part of the total fauna.

A number of species are listed with subspecies, in cases where there are recognized subspecies in different parts of Europe. In some cases a synonym is given, where the species may be perhaps better known under an older name.

The list is arranged by presumed biological affinity, rather than being alphabetical by family.

The following table shows a summary of species numbers. It is not always easy to define which species are aquatic and which are terrestrial, as some species such as Galba truncatula are virtually amphibious. It also can be difficult to determine which species are introduced, as some introductions are quite ancient, for example from the Paleolithic. Those species that do not have a shell usually do not leave an archeological or fossil record, and therefore it is not always possible to determine whether they are native or introduced.

Non-marine molluscs of Ireland
Land gastropods 107
Aquatic gastropods 37
Gastropod total: 144
Freshwater bivalves 21
Mollusc total: 165
Introduced land gastropods in natural habitats: 15
Introduced bivalves in natural habitats: 1
Total introduced molluscs in natural habitats: 16
Gastropods living as "hothouse aliens" 2
Bivalves living as "hothouse aliens" 0


Species protected by EU Habitats Directive include: Geomalacus maculosus (annex II and IV), Vertigo angustior, Vertigo geyeri, Vertigo moulinsiana (annex II) and Margaritifera margaritifera (annex II and V).[2]

Two species have been protected by the Wildlife Act of 1976 since 1990: Geomalacus maculosus and Margaritifera margaritifera. They were added by regulation SI 112/1990.[2]

A recent regional red list has been published of the non-marine molluscs of Ireland by Byrne et al. (2009).[3] In this publication, the threat status of 150 native species was evaluated using IUCN regional guidelines.[4] Of these species, two are considered to be regionally extinct, five critically endangered, fourteen endangered, twenty-six vulnerable, six near threatened, and the rest of least concern, or data deficient. This publication has sparked some media discussion about molluscan conservation in Ireland, including articles written in the Irish Times[5][6] and the Irish Daily Mail.

Regional Red List of Irish non-marine molluscs[edit]

The following species have been assigned threat categories or were considered regionally extinct on the island of Ireland in 2009:[3]

Regionally extinct (RE) Helicigona lapicida (Linnaeus, 1758); Omphiscola glabra (O.F. Müller, 1774) - listed as extinct in the red list, but rediscovered in 2009.[7]

Critically Endangered (CR) Pisidium conventus Clessin, 1877 Pomatias elegans (O.F. Müller, 1774) Margaritifera margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758) Truncatella subcylindrica (Linnaeus, 1767) Margaritifera durrovensis Philips, 1928

Endangered (EN) Gyraulus laevis (Alder, 1838) Pisidium pulchellum Jenyns, 1832 Hydrobia acuta neglecta (Muus, 1963) Pupilla muscorum (Linnaeus, 1758) Mercuria cf. similis (Draparnaud, 1805) Quickella arenaria (Potiez & Michaud, 1835) Merdigera obscura (O.F. Müller, 1774) Spermodea lamellata (Jeffreys, 1830) Myxas glutinosa (O.F. Müller, 1774) Succinella oblonga Draparnaud, 1801 Pisidium moitessierianum Paladilhe, 1866 Vertigo moulinsiana (Dupuy, 1849) Pisidium pseudosphaerium Schlesch, 1947 Vertigo pusilla Müller, 1774

Vulnerable (VU) Acicula fusca (Montagu, 1803) Pisidium lilljeborgii Clessin, 1866 Anisus vortex (Linnaeus, 1758) Radix auricularia (Linnaeus, 1758) Anodonta anatina (Linnaeus, 1758) Sphaerium nucleus (Studer, 1820) Anodonta cygnea (Linnaeus, 1758) Tandonia rustica (Millet, 1843) Aplexa hypnorum (Linnaeus, 1758) Testacella haliotidea Draparnaud, 1801 Arianta arbustorum (Linnaeus, 1758) Vallonia pulchella (O.F. Müller, 1774) Balea perversa (Linnaeus, 1758) Ventrosia ventrosa (Montagu, 1803) Cecilioides acicula (Müller, 1774) Vertigo angustior Jeffreys, 1830 Cochlodina laminata (Montagu, 1803) Vertigo antivertigo (Draparnaud, 1801) Helicella itala (Linnaeus, 1758) Vertigo geyeri Lindholm, 1925 Leiostyla anglica (A. Férussac, 1821) Vertigo lilljeborgi (Westerlund, 1871) Limax cinereoniger Wolf, 1803 Zenobiella subrufescens (J.S. Miller, 1822) Musculium lacustre (O.F. Müller, 1774) Zonitoides excavatus (Alder, 1830)

Systematic list[edit]

The list is arranged by presumed biological affinity, rather than being alphabetical by family.

A number of species are listed with subspecies, in cases where there are well-recognized subspecies in different parts of Europe. For some species a synonym is given, where the species may perhaps be better known under another name.

An attempt has been made to label the families as aquatic, terrestrial or intermediate, and an indication is given where it is thought that the species is introduced. Those species that do not have a shell usually do not leave an archeological or fossil record, and therefore it is not always possible to determine whether they are native or introduced. Species are considered to be native, unless otherwise indicated; that information is taken from Kerney, 1999.[8]


Neritidae - aquatic (also tolerates brackish water)
Aciculidae - terrestrial
Viviparidae (river snails) - aquatic
Assimineidae - terrestrial (intermediate marine)
Bithyniidae - aquatic
Hydrobiidae (mud snails) - aquatic (some are arguably marine)
Valvatidae (valve snails) - aquatic
Pomatiidae (land winkles) - terrestrial

The following gastropods are pulmonates:

Ellobiidae (hollow-shelled snails) - terrestrial or semi-marine
Otinidae - aquatic (almost fully marine, but a pulmonate)
Physidae (bladder snails) - aquatic
Lymnaeidae - aquatic
Planorbidae (ramshorn snails) - aquatic
Acroloxidae (river limpets) - aquatic
Succineidae (amber snails)- terrestrial (some almost amphibious)
Cochlicopidae - terrestrial
Pyramidulidae - terrestrial
Vertiginidae (whorl snails) - terrestrial
Pupillidae - terrestrial
Lauriidae - terrestrial
Valloniidae - terrestrial
Enidae - terrestrial
Punctidae (dot snails) - terrestrial
Discidae - terrestrial
Arionidae (roundback slugs) - terrestrial
Pristilomatidae - terrestrial
Euconulidae - terrestrial
Gastrodontidae - terrestrial
Oxychilidae - terrestrial
Milacidae - terrestrial
Vitrinidae - terrestrial
Boettgerillidae - terrestrial
Limacidae (keelback slugs) - terrestrial
Agriolimacidae - terrestrial
Ferussaciidae - terrestrial
Clausiliidae (door snails) - terrestrial
Testacellidae (shelled slugs) - terrestrial
Cochlicellidae - terrestrial
Hygromiidae - terrestrial
Helicidae (typical snails) - terrestrial


Margaritiferidae - aquatic
Unionidae (river mussels) - aquatic
Sphaeriidae (pea clams, fingernail clams) - aquatic
Dreissenidae - aquatic
Corbiculidae (basket clams)

List of "hothouse alien" species[edit]

Two views of a shell of Planorbella duryi

These freshwater species are not truly part of the fauna, because they do not live in the wild. They are tropical, and thus are incapable of surviving in the wild in Ireland; instead they have established themselves as uninvited inhabitants of aquaria within greenhouses, and similar artificially-heated aquatic habitats.

Lymnaeidae - aquatic
Planorbidae - aquatic

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anderson, R. (2005). "An annotated list of the non-marine molluscs of Britain and Ireland". Journal of Conchology. 38 (6): 607–637. ISSN 1753-2205. 
  2. ^ a b (7 January 2009). Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland. 15 pp., page 12.
  3. ^ a b Byrne A., Moorkens E. A., Anderson R., Killeen I. J. & Regan E. C. (2009). [1] Ireland Red List No. 2 – Non-Marine Molluscs. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.
  4. ^ IUCN (2003) Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional Levels: Version 3.0. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, UK. ii + 26 pp.
  5. ^ (January 2009). "Third of snail species here threatened with extinction". The Irish Times.
  6. ^ "Little sand-bowl arrow snail at the point of no return".
  7. ^ a b Anderson R. (2009). "Value of species datasets as baselines (non-marine Mollusca)". accessed 31 July 2010.
  8. ^ Kerney, Michael, 1999, Atlas of the land and freshwater molluscs of Britain and Ireland, Harley Books, Colchester, England, ISBN 0-946589-48-8.
  • Hayden, B. & Caffrey, J.M. 2013 First recording of the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774)) from the River Shannon, with preliminary notes on population size and size class distribution. Irish Naturalists' Journal 32: 29-31

Further reading[edit]

  • Scharff, R. F. 1896. The slugs of Ireland. London.
  • Rev. Canon J.W. Horsley Our British snails.London :Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,1915. pdf (BHL) Beginners text and plates
  • George Brettingham Sowerby Illustrated Index of British Shells (1859) s:Illustrated Index of British Shells Wikisource full text and plates
  • Germain, L. Faune de France n° 21 Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles. vol I. 1930, 478 p.pdf
  • Germain, L. Faune de France n° 22 Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles. vol. II. 1931, 520 p. 390 fig.pdf
  • Germain, L. Illustrations des Faunes n° 21-22 Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles pdf
  • Francisco Welter-Schultes, 2012. European non-marine molluscs, a guide for species identification. Bestimmungsbuch für europäische Land- und Süsswassermollusken. Planet Poster Editions, Göttingen.ISBN 978-3-933922-75-5
  • George Washington Tryon article lists all parts of Manual of conchology 1887-1935 with online links.
  • George W. Tryon, Jr., Henry Augustus Pilsbry and B. Sharp Manual of conchology, structural and systematic : with illustrations of the species Philadelphia :Published by the Author, Academy of Natural Sciences,1879-1898 Series 1 17 volumes online here
  • George W. Tryon, Jr.,Horace Burrington Baker, Charles Montague Cooke, Alpheus Hyatt, Henry Augustus Pilsbry, Manual of conchology, structural and systematic : with illustrations of the species. by George W. Tryon, Jr. Second series, Pulmonata Philadelphia :Published by the Author,1885-1935. 28 volumes and indices online here

External links[edit]