12 Types of Snails in California

Types of Snails in California 
Photo by amirali mirhashemian

California is home to a wide variety of types of snails. Many species can be found in the Golden State, from land snails to marine snails. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the types of snails in California and provide insight into their unique characteristics.

Whether a curious nature enthusiast or a passionate gardener, you’ll find something interesting to learn about the various types of snails in California.

1. Slug Snail

The Slug Snail is one of the most common types of snails in California. This snail belongs to the family of terrestrial gastropods, and it has a long, slimy body with a tapered tail. 

It feeds on plants, decaying organic material, and fungi, and it’s usually found near damp areas such as leaf litter, gardens, and the edges of streams. Slug Snails can climb surfaces such as walls, tree trunks, and fences, making them hard to eliminate if they invade your garden. 

2. Cellar Glass Snail

One of the types of snails found in California is the Cellar glass snail, also known as the Oxychilus cellars. This snail is expected in the western US, from California to Utah and British Columbia to New Mexico. They are small and slimy, reaching up to 6 millimeters long. 

In damp locations, they can be found under logs, stones, and woodpiles. They are often seen in gardens and yards or hiding under flower pots or boards. These types of snails in California snails in California are carnivores and feed on other small invertebrates, such as earthworms. 

It does not have a shell but does possess an internal shell sac which it uses for protection. It secretes mucus that allows it to move quickly along wet surfaces. In addition to the Cellar glass snail, several other types of snails in California. 

These include Amnicola spp., Bithynia tentaculata, Lymnaea stagnalis, Viviparus spp., and Physa spp. All these species play important roles in California ecosystems by providing food sources for wildlife, helping decompose organic matter, aerating soil, and controlling pest populations. Knowing about the different types of snails in California helps us better understand and appreciate their presence in our environment.

3. Amber Snails

Amber snails are one of the many types of snails in California. They are native to South America but can now be found worldwide due to accidental or intentional introductions. Amber snails typically grow to a size of up to 6 cm in length and have a dark brownish-amber shell with lighter amber stripes running from the spire to the base. 

These snails usually live in damp places and can be found under rocks, logs, and other debris near streams or creeks. They can be found in moist climates like Los Angeles and San Diego Counties in California. 

4. Giant African Snail

The Giant African snail (Achatina Fulica) is one of California‘s many types of snails. Native to East Africa, this species has been inadvertently introduced to many parts of the world, including California, which is considered an invasive pest. These giant snails grow up to seven inches in length and have a yellowish-brown color with darker brown stripes. 

They can be easily distinguished from other types of snails in California due to their size and distinctive shell. The Giant African snail is a significant pest of crops, ornamental plants, and natural vegetation in California. They feed on various plants, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and leaves. 

As they feed, they secrete large amounts of slime, which can cause extensive damage to gardens and landscapes. Additionally, they are potential carriers of human diseases and parasites, making them a hazard to human health. Due to its invasive nature, the Giant African snail is considered a serious threat to California’s native flora and fauna. 

5. Brown Garden Snail

The Brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum) is one of California‘s most common types of snails. Brown Garden Snail, scientific name Helix aspersa. This type of snail has an elongated, slightly tapered shell that is light tan to brownish-gray.  

It was introduced to California in the early 1900s and is now a widespread species. Brown Garden Snails are giant brownish-gray snails that feed primarily on vegetables and other plants. Brown Garden Snails can quickly cause damage to their host plants, so preventing their spread is essential. 

This species grows to a maximum size of 25mm, with a yellow-brown shell and a pale body. The cover can vary from shades of brown to yellow, with patterns of spirals or spots. 

These types of snails in California feed mainly on vegetation, and fungi are essential to the soil ecosystem, providing nutrients for other organisms. Its slime trails indicate its presence in an area, and the species is an important food source for many predators.   

6. Striped Garden Snail

The Striped Garden snail is one of the most common types of snails in California. It is a small species, growing to about an inch in length, and has a distinctively striped shell. This snail can be found in gardens and flower beds near the soil surface or on low-growing plants. 

They feed on various vegetation types, including roots and other plant material. The Striped Garden snail is not considered a pest species, and it is beneficial to gardeners because it helps aerate the soil and breaks down organic matter. In addition to the Striped Garden snail, there are several other types of snails native to California.

7. Tramp Snail

Tramp snails are one of the types of snails in California. They are tiny, brown snails with flat whorls that come to a pointed apex. These types of snails in California prefer to inhabit moist areas with plenty of decaying vegetation so that they can be found in woodland areas and along streams. 

They feed on detritus and decomposing matter. The Tramp snail is an integral part of the ecosystem, breaking down organic material and returning it to the soil. Another type of snail found in California is the Lymnaea stagnalis, or great pond snail. 

This type of snail lives near permanent bodies of water such as ponds, marshes, and wetlands. They have an average size between 1-2 centimeters and possess smooth shells in shades of gray and tan. Great pond snails are herbivores and eat algae from the water’s surface and other types of aquatic vegetation.

8. Greenhouse Snail

The Greenhouse snail (Helix aspersa) is one of the types of snails in California. It is a medium-sized snail native to the Mediterranean basin and other areas of Western Europe. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world and can now be found in California. 

This type of snail is characterized by its yellowish or brownish shell that has 5 to 6 whorls and is usually between 15 and 20 millimeters wide. The surface is generally glossy, with two well-developed horns on its first whorl. The body of the snail is brown with yellow or orange stripes. 

The Greenhouse snail feeds mainly on leaves, fruits, and other vegetation. They are usually found near plants and gardens. This snail species is known for its ability to reproduce quickly, laying large eggs per clutch. 

They are also known for their long life span, up to 10 years in some cases. They are relatively easy to care for and can make fascinating pets for people interested in keeping snails.

9. Banded Woodsnail

The Banded Woodsnail, scientific name Cepaea nemoralis, is one of California’s many types of snails. It has a large, conical shell that is yellow or brown with distinctive dark bands around the edge. These types of snails in California can be found in gardens, woodlands, hedgerows, and other semi-open habitats. 

It feeds on vegetable matter and algae and prefers a moist, shady environment. The Banded Woodsnail is active during the day and hides in its shell at night. It’s known to be tolerant of various environmental conditions, making it a common species throughout much of California. 

10. Red-lipped Flatcoil Snail

The Red-lipped Flatcoil Snail is one of the different types of snails in California. It is a species of air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk. This snail’s shell is unique from other snail species as it has a flat, spiraled shape and distinct red-rimmed lip. 

The Red-lipped Flatcoil Snail is known for its yellow and brown shell with a red band at the lip. This snail can be found in California’s gardens, marshes, swamps, and other moist habitats. It feeds on vegetation such as algae, lichens, and fungi. 

Its diet includes plant matter and decaying material. While this snail is not usually considered a garden pest, they are attracted to areas with plenty of food, moisture, and shelter.

11. Californian land snail

One of the types of snails in California is the Californian land snail. These types of snails in California are native to the California region and can be found in various habitats such as woodlands, hillsides, and coastal areas. They feed on decaying plant material and fungi and can be found in terrestrial and aquatic environments. 

The Californian land snail is usually around 0.5 to 1 inch in length and has a yellow or tan-colored shell with four to five whorls and a deep suture. This snail species is also known for its slow movement; they usually don’t travel more than 5 meters in an hour. While they generally prefer wetter climates, they have adapted to survive in drier ones too. 

12. White Garden Snail

One of California’s most common types of snails is the White Garden Snail (Helix aspersa). This species is native to the Mediterranean region and is known for its small size, typically less than one inch in length. They have a light gray shell and a yellowish-white body. 

White Garden Snails are herbivores, meaning they feed on plants and vegetation, making them an essential part of the ecosystem. These types of snails in California are also popular in aquariums and are generally considered harmless to humans.


California is home to a wide range of snails, from the White Garden Snail to the Giant African Land Snail and Red Slug. Whether you are looking for a unique pet or are fascinated by these little creatures, many types of snails in California can make a great addition to your life! From their beautiful shells and eye-catching colors to their exciting behaviors, getting to know different types of snails in California can open up a new world of discovery. 

All it takes is some research on the types of snails native to the area, such as where they live and their habitat. Then you can learn how to care for them properly and get to know their personalities! You may even be surprised at how personable some snails can become after being around them for a while. 

There’s something special about getting to know each type of snail and connecting with them through their unique characteristics. So don’t forget to look around your backyard and discover the fantastic variety of snails in California!

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