Most of us probably don’t think too much about snails in our day-to-day lives. And if you’re like most people, you probably picture snails as gray, sluglike creatures with round spiral shells.
In many cases, this picture is pretty close. But what you may not realize is that there are countless snail species out there. And many are more colorful than you think!
List of Colorful Snails
Here’s our list of the most colorful snails in the world:
1. Candy Cane Snail
- Latin name: Liguus virgineus
- Habitat: Areas with trees in Hispaniola
- Size: Shell is between 1.2″ and 2.4″ long
- Diet: Primarily bark-growing lichens
- Colorful feature: These colorful snail shells look like they’ve been painted! They usually have a white or off-white base color covered in spiral stripes. The stripes can be yellow, green, purple, pink, black, or brown. Each individual shell can have up to three different colors!
The candy cane snail’s shell looks more like an art project than something out of nature. The shell is able to maintain its color throughout the life of the snail. That’s because its bright stripes are created by a pigment gland in the snail’s body. Since the gland continuously works, the shell coloration remains consistently bright. Thanks to its beauty, it has been illustrated and described in scientific literature for hundreds of years.
2. Violet Sea Snail
- Latin name: Janthina janthina
- Habitat: Subtropical and tropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans
- Size: Shell is up to 1.6″ wide
- Diet: Various types of ocean hydrozoa, including the deadly Portuguese man o’ war
- Colorful feature: As the name suggests, this snail has a purplish shell that is close to the color of amethyst. The shell’s color is a gradient from darker purple to lighter purple.
The purple shells aren’t the only striking things about these pretty snails. Since they live in the ocean and prey on various floating animals, they need a way to stay afloat in the ocean. They create a “bubble raft” of trapped air bubbles in order to stay close to the ocean’s surface.
3. Draparnaud’s Glass Snail
- Latin name: Oxychilus draparnaudi
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Britain, Ireland, Hawaii, Singapore, and other areas
- Size: Shell is up to 0.6″ in diameter
- Diet: Mostly earthworms and younger snails and slugs
- Colorful feature: This snail’s soft body is a uniquely striking blue-gray color. Its shell appears brownish and is very glossy.
You might sometimes hear this snail called the dark-bodied glass snail. Its shell is actually a translucent near-white, but the snail’s body within it makes it look much darker. And like other glass snails, this one is so glossy that it looks like it’s made of glass!
4. Painted Snail
- Latin name: Polymita picta
- Habitat: Mostly subtropical forests and coastal areas in eastern Cuba
- Size: Shell is up to about 0.8″ wide
- Diet: Mosses, lichens, and fungal biofilms
- Colorful feature: These snails have shells that can come in a huge range of colors. The most common one is yellow with a stripe, but you can find the painted snail in a whole rainbow of colors.
This extraordinarily beautiful snail is often regarded as the most colorful snail in the world. Unfortunately, it is so heavily collected for its beautiful shell that it is now an endangered species. Since 1943, it has been protected in Cuba. Snails can’t be exported from the country unless the export is for approved scientific reasons.
5. Red Racer Snail
- Latin name: Vittina waigiensis
- Habitat: Near fresh and brackish water in the Philippines
- Size: Shell is up to about 1.2″ long
- Diet: Mostly algae and some types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: The shells of these snails are unique and beautiful. They usually are red with bands of yellow-orange, although individual snails have different patterns.
The name of this snail may look familiar. The red racer is one of the snail species that is commonly sold as a freshwater aquarium pet. If you’re new to keeping snails, this is a great choice, as it won’t reproduce in freshwater environments. And often, there is enough gradual algae formation in a fish tank that you only need to feed the snails sparingly.
6. Emerald Green Snail
- Latin name: Papustyla pulcherrima
- Habitat: Rainforests on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea
- Size: Shell is around 1″ long
- Diet: Mostly lichens and fungi that grow in trees
- Colorful feature: This snail’s shell is a very vivid leaf green. Often, you can also see a yellow line spiraling up the shell too.
Like some of the other brightly colored snails on the list, this one has been heavily collected for its stunning shell. Consequently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies it as being near threatened. To prevent further depletion of the population, Papua New Guinea prohibits the export of these snails and their shells.
7. Scorpion Conch
- Latin name: Lambis scorpius
- Habitat: Parts of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean
- Size: Shell is usually between 3.7″ and 8.7″
- Diet: Largely algae and various small aquatic organisms
- Colorful feature: This stunning sea snail’s shell is mottled with white and orange. And as you can see in the picture, the inside has eye-catching bands of red and white.
Most of us are familiar with at least some kinds of conch shells. But did you know that these unique ocean creatures are actually large sea snails? This one can be found in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean, although various conch species can be found all over the world.
8. Pink Tree Snail
- Latin name: Calocochlia festiva
- Habitat: Areas with trees in the Philippines
- Size: Shell around 2″ wide
- Diet: Lichens and some types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: These snails often have bright pink shells. But depending on the individual, some shells may be closer to yellow in color.
Many snail species are a dull, nondescript brown. But as you can see with this one, it’s possible for snails to be incredibly colorful. Unfortunately, though, like many of the more colorful snail species on the list, this one has often been overcollected for its beautiful shell.
9. Giant African Snail
- Latin name: Lissachatina fulica
- Habitat: Originally from various habitat types in East Africa
- Size: Up to 8″ in total length
- Diet: Various types of plants and fungi, as well as paper and cardboard
- Colorful feature: Though this huge snail isn’t extremely bright, its shell is marbled or mottled in various shades of red-brown, brown, white, and cream.
Somewhat confusingly, the name “giant African snail” has been used to describe this species and others. This one has been named as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. It spreads both plant disease and human disease, and it also outcompetes native snail species in many areas where it is introduced.
10. Venus Comb Murex
- Latin name: Murex pecten
- Habitat: Throughout the Indo-Pacific Ocean region
- Size: Shell is between 4″ and 6″ long
- Diet: Various other types of snails and mollusks
- Colorful feature: This stunning, spiny sea snail is remarkable for its bright white coloration as well as for its long, flowing spines that make it look like an alien skeleton.
The Venus comb murex is one of the most stunning sea snails on the list, largely because of its spines. Each individual has more than 100 spines. The spines serve two purposes: they protect the murex from predators and also help prevent it from sinking into the mud on the ocean floor.
11. Eyed Cowrie
- Latin name: Arestorides argus
- Habitat: Found in many parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
- Size: Usually between 3″ and 4.5″ long
- Diet: Various types of plant and animal matter on the ocean floor
- Colorful feature: The patterning on this distinctive sea snail looks more like a fabric pattern than something you would find in nature. The pearly white background is marked by a variety of eye-like spots. They vary enough in size and shape that they appear to be afloat.
The eyed cowrie is one of the largest and most beautifully patterned cowrie shells. If you’re familiar with cowries, you might appreciate this one’s straight aperture and evenly-sized teeth. There are three subspecies, all of which look fairly similar.
12. Grove Snail
- Latin name: Cepaea nemoralis
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Western Europe
- Size: Shell is between 0.7″ and 1″ wide
- Diet: Mostly dead plant matter
- Colorful feature: This distinctive snail comes in several color variations. Many shells have yellow base coloration. On shells with bands, the bands can be relatively thick or relatively thin. However, some individuals are reddish brown or even green.
This European snail is especially hardy, and it is able to adapt to a range of habitat types. Though it is of course at home in more rural areas, you can find it in cities and on abandoned urban land as well. Though it is much more common in Europe, it has somewhat recently been introduced to North America and Venezuela.
13. Mystery Snail
- Latin name: Pomacea bridgesii
- Habitat: Freshwater in Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia
- Size: Shell up to about 3″ in diameter
- Diet: Various types of plant and animal matter
- Colorful feature: Mystery snails come in a huge range of colors. You can find them in gold, ivory, blue, green, and even purple striped.
You might wonder how these colorful creatures came to be called “mystery snails.” That’s because in nature, the eggs are hidden well enough that the young snails seem to mysteriously appear. If you have any experience in the aquarium hobby, you may have seen mystery snails offered for sale. In addition to being very colorful, they are also very easy to keep in aquariums!
14. Assassin Snail
- Latin name: Clea helena
- Habitat: Bodies of fresh water in Southeast Asia
- Size: Shell usually between 0.7″ and 1.25″ long
- Diet: Primarily worms and other gastropods
- Colorful feature: This striking snail is sometimes called the “bumblebee snail.” It has wide, alternating bands of dark brown (almost black) and yellow.
The name “assassin snail” sounds dramatic, but this snail has earned it; it will often attack and eat other snails. It hunts much like an assassin, too. Often, it will bury itself and wait for potential prey to come close. Then, it will ambush and kill it. This hunting method allows the assassin snail to hunt down and eat much larger snail species.
15. Rabbit Snail
- Latin name: Tylomelania sp.
- Habitat: Native to lakes in Sulawesi, Indonesia
- Size: Usually between 3″ and 5″ long
- Diet: Usually algae and various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: There are many species of rabbit snails, and their shells come in a variety of colors. However, the body of the snail is often much brighter than the shell itself. You can see that the body of the snail in the photo is bright yellow!
“Rabbit snail” can be used to describe any of the snail species falling under the Tylomelania genus. The name comes from the snail’s head. Thanks to the prominent stalks, the head of a rabbit snail does look a lot like that of a rabbit.
16. Geography Cone
- Latin name: Conus geographus
- Habitat: Coral reefs in tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific Ocean
- Size: Shell is usually between 4″ and 6″ long
- Diet: Primarily small fish
- Colorful feature: The shell of the geography cone has a beautifully complex pattern. Usually, the base color is pinkish or purplish white and mottled with deep reddish brown. Thanks to its beauty, the shell is often sought after by shell collectors.
The geography cone might be pretty, but be careful if you see one. Its venom is potent enough to kill a human. Unlike the venom of most creatures, geography cone venom is a mixture of hundreds of separate toxins. There is no antivenom to counter a geography cone sting. If someone does happen to be stung, prompt medical attention is a must.
17. Flamingo Tongue Snail
- Latin name: Cyphoma gibbosum
- Habitat: Tropical parts of the western Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Usually between 0.7″ and 1.7″ long
- Diet: Typically eats soft coral
- Colorful feature: This small snail is easily one of the brightest on the list. It is bright yellowish orange with several irregular, black-lined yellow spots. The spots almost look drawn on at first glance.
Much of the bright coloration of the flamingo tongue snail comes from the body of the living snail itself. Unfortunately, many divers don’t know this. They will take the snail from its reef habitat thinking it’s a shell. As a result, the flamingo tongue snail has become less and less common.
18. Miniature Melo
- Latin name: Micromelo undatus
- Habitat: Soft ocean floors and turfy parts of coral reefs in many warm parts of the Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Shell is usually between 0.5″ and 0.7″
- Diet: Certain types of marine worms
- Colorful feature: The miniature melo is one of the strangest and most beautiful snails on the list. Its body is bright blue with white spots. Its small, whitish shell sits atop the body. The shell itself appears penciled with thin brown lines.
This colorful snail looks almost like it’s made out of jelly. Its large, blue body may well be its most distinguishing feature. And even though it’s small and seems as though it would be easy prey for predators, it has evolved an interesting defense mechanism. The worms it eats contain toxins, and the miniature melo is able to store those toxins to defend itself if the need arises.
19. Leopard Star Snail
- Latin name: Peltodoris atromaculata
- Habitat: Almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea
- Size: Up to about 4.7″ long
- Diet: Some types of sea sponges
- Colorful feature: This bright sea snail has a white base color marked with brown spots. The spots vary in size, and each one has a border of dark brown. The pattern gives it a leopard-like appearance.
This distinctive sea snail is a colorful sight in Mediterranean coral reefs. You might wonder why it has such lively coloration. Its spots don’t camouflage it; they have an almost opposite effect. But the bright and unusual coloring likely sends a signal to predators that the snail is highly unpalatable.
20. Warty/Little Egg Cowry
- Latin name: Calpurnus verrucosus
- Habitat: Largely in the western Pacific Ocean
- Size: Shell is between 0.39″ and 1.57″ long
- Diet: Mostly leather coral polyps
- Colorful feature: Though the plain shells aren’t too colorful, the live cowries are white with many smaller brown spots.
Though the shell of the warty/little egg cowrie isn’t too terribly big, this species has a large foot that makes it appear bigger. The foot is spotted like the body and can extend fairly far out from the shell itself. This cowrie is easiest to spot at night when it comes out to graze on coral polyps. You might still see it during the day when it hides under soft corals and other marine life.
21. Pacific Grinning Tun
- Latin name: Malea pomum
- Habitat: Various marine habitats in the Indian Ocean, western Pacific Ocean, and the Red Sea
- Size: Usually between 1.6″ and 3.5″ long
- Diet: Various marine creatures like sea cucumbers and crustaceans
- Colorful feature: Some of these snails have brighter shells than others. But as you can see in the photo, many are striped or banded with complex patterns of chestnut brown and off-white.
The Pacific grinning tun is one of the larger marine snails out there. If you’ve taken a close look at the shell, you can probably tell where the name comes from; the aperture of the shell is curved like a smile. And of course, it’s lined with sharp, serrated teeth.
22. Garden Snail
- Latin name: Cornu aspersum
- Habitat: Many different habitat types in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the British Isles
- Size: Shell is usually between 1″ and 1.6″ in diameter
- Diet: Mostly various types of fruit and other plant matter
- Colorful feature: The garden snail has a shell that can vary considerably in color. Often, it has lines or bands that vary between white, golden brown, tan, or dark brown. As you can see in the picture, some individual snails have banding that is especially noticeable!
This interesting snail is regarded as both a delicacy and a pest, depending on who you ask. In many parts of its native range, it is a major crop and garden pest thanks to its ability to feed on a huge range of plants. However, it is also one of the snail species most commonly cooked as escargot. For better or for worse, it is a highly adaptable species that has expanded its range over the years.
23. Crown Conch
- Latin name: Melongena corona
- Habitat: Mostly tropical waters along the Florida panhandle, though they may extend somewhat beyond this range as well
- Size: Shell is up to about 5″ long
- Diet: Various types of other mollusks
- Colorful feature: Like many marine snails, crown conchs vary considerably when it comes to coloration. They typically have a white base color with bands of darker brown. Since the patterning is highly variable, some snails are more colorful than others.
If you’ve ever seen a crown conch, you know where this species gets its name. At the spiraled top of the shell, there are many spikes that look like those at the top of a crown. Just like the coloration, the spike formation on these sea snails varies considerably. In some cases, an individual snail will have multiple rows of spines instead of just one.
24. Jeweled Topsnail
- Latin name: Calliostoma annulatum
- Habitat: Areas of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of North America
- Size: Shell is usually between 0.6″ and 1.4″ tall
- Diet: Mostly kelp, detritus, and various small marine animals
- Colorful feature: This sea snail is easily one of the most colorful on the list. It has a base color of gold or orange. It’s cone-like shell has spiraling markings of pink or purple.
The jeweled topsnail goes by other common names. You might hear it called the blue-ring topsnail or the purple-ring topsnail. It’s made especially beautiful by the textures on its shell; the whorls are marked by distinctive bumps or ribs. Luckily, thanks to its brilliant coloration, it’s easy even for new divers and explorers to identify.
25. Liguus Tree Snail
- Latin name: Liguus fasciatus
- Habitat: Various parts of the Caribbean
- Size: Shell is usually between 1.7″ and 2.7″
- Diet: Mostly lichens, fungi, and algae
- Colorful feature: These snails are colorful enough to be called “living jewels.” Some have pale base colors swirled with multicolored stripes. Others have iridescent bands, and still others have darker base colors with swirling white bands.
The Liguus tree snail has a shell that comes in seemingly countless colors and is frequently banded with white or other colors. Part of that is because this species includes anywhere from 52 to 70 separate subspecies. If they look familiar, you might be thinking of the candy cane snail. This snail belongs to the same genus.
26. Spotted Nerite Snail
- Latin name: Neritina natalensis
- Habitat: Areas with fresh water in East Africa
- Size: Up to about 1″ in diameter
- Diet: Largely algae
- Colorful feature: This beautiful snail’s shell can be pretty variable in terms of color and pattern. The base color is usually yellow. Though the name implies that it’s only marked with spots, it also may have markings that look more like stripes or zigzags.
This snail is one of the most popular in the aquarium trade. Like most snails sold for freshwater aquariums, this one does a great job of eating algae. You also can keep more than one, as it won’t reproduce when kept in an aquarium. If you’re looking for a burst of color that’s easy to care for, the spotted nerite snail is a great choice.
27. Golden Apple Snail
- Latin name: Pomacea canaliculata
- Habitat: Natural habitat is in various parts of tropical and subtropical South America
- Size: Up to about 6″ long
- Diet: Various types of plant and animal matter, as well as detritus
- Colorful feature: Though the name makes them sound like their shells are golden, golden apple snails actually vary quite a bit in color. There are gold and albino snails, but most individuals are banded with yellowish tan, brown, and black.
You might not think of snails as being destructive. But this one has made it onto the list of the top 100 invasive alien species. It mainly is an agricultural pest in many parts of the world. It was likely brought into various countries as a pet and then released, causing local feral populations to grow.
28. Giant Ramshorn Snail
- Latin name: Marisa cornuarietis
- Habitat: Usually slow-moving fresh water in South America, though there are introduced populations of it in many other parts of the world.
- Size: Shell diameter is usually around 2″, though it can be even larger
- Diet: Mostly algae, dead fish, aquatic plants, and other snails
- Colorful feature: This impressive-looking snail doesn’t always have extremely bright coloration. However, many individuals have shells covered in a wide variety of stripes and bands.
It’s pretty easy to tell where the name of this snail comes from; its fairly large shell bears a remarkable resemblance to the horn of a ram. It is often kept as an aquarium pet, although it also has been used as a biological control agent. Since it often outcompetes Biomphalaria snails for resources, it is an effective way to reduce human cases of Schistosomiasis. This is a parasitic infection that will readily infect humans.
29. Great Pond Snail
- Latin name: Lymnaea stagnalis
- Habitat: Various habitat types across much of the Northern Hemisphere
- Size: Shell length is usually between 1.8″ and 2.4″
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant and animal matter
- Colorful feature: The great pond snail is one of the many species whose shell coloration varies considerably. Most shells have some level of dark and light mottling. But as you can see in the picture, there are many different possible shell colors.
The great pond snail has one of the most extensive ranges of any species on the list, as it can thrive in a variety of climates. Though it lives in freshwater, this species breathes air. Part of its success may be due to the fact that it is a hermaphrodite. Each individual can act as a male or female.
30. Malaysian Trumpet Snail
- Latin name: Melanoides tuberculata
- Habitat: Various habitat types in southern Asia and northern Africa
- Size: Shells are usually between 0.75″ and 1.1″ long
- Diet: Mostly algae
- Colorful feature: This snail’s unique shell has an intricate pattern. The base color is a pale brownish with green undertones. However, it has noticeable red speckling and streaks.
This snail is also called the red-rimmed melania as a nod to the reddish spots on the shell. It is somewhat popular in the freshwater aquarium trade thanks to its algae-eating ability and generally mellow temperament. However, if you have one, be sure to use caution; these snails have been known to carry parasites that are harmful to humans.
31. White Wizard Snail
- Latin name: Filopaludina martensi
- Habitat: Mostly freshwater in Southeast Asia
- Size: Shell is up to about 2″ long
- Diet: Various types of animal and plant matter
- Colorful feature: Though it may not be the absolute brightest on the list, the white wizard snail stands out because of its bright, moon-white color. It’s also unique because much of the body that extends outside of the shell is blue: a highly uncommon color in nature.
The white wizard snail has become a popular aquarium pet in recent years. It is fairly easy to care for and does best in very calm aquatic environments. It likes to burrow into substrate and is usually more active at night than it is during the day.
32. Tiger Snail
- Latin name: Achatina achatina
- Habitat: Many different habitat types in West Africa
- Size: Shells usually grow to around 7″ long
- Diet: Various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: This large snail has a much more beautiful and intricately patterned shell than many snails on the list. As the name suggests, the shell has a tiger-like pattern. The basecolor is usually a rich orange-red. It’s traversed by dark stripes that are close to black in color.
Somewhat confusingly, this species is sometimes called the giant African snail, like the unrelated species we mentioned earlier. This one is regarded as a major pest in many parts of the world. It can cause serious agricultural damage, but it’s also a disease vector for meningitis. Thanks to its disease-spreading potential and its ability to become an invasive species, it cannot legally be kept as a pet in many countries.
- Latin name: Limicolaria sp.
- Habitat: Various tropical land environments in parts of Africa
- Size: Usually up to about 2″ long
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: This genus of snails obviously has some variation between subspecies. But often, the shells have a pink base color that ranges from pale coral pink to pale lavender pink. And as you can see in the picture, they often have darker markings.
These pretty snails are very abundant in their natural range. As a result, they have often been used in scientific research. Interestingly enough, some research suggests that they can be used as a source of both protein and calcium in poultry food for laying hens. Of course, since there is a huge range of subspecies, the exact subspecies used depends on location and availability.
34. Hairy Triton
- Latin name: Cymatium pileare
- Habitat: Various habitat types in parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea, and the western Indian and Pacific Oceans
- Size: Shells are usually between 1.5″ and 5.1″
- Diet: Primarily various types of bivalves
- Colorful feature: Like many larger sea snails, this one has a shell that is patterned in reddish-brown and white. And as is the case with many snails on the list, it varies somewhat in color from individual to individual.
This imposing-looking snail is one of the many larger, predatory sea snails that can be found in the ocean. Though its pattern is intriguing, the ridged, wavy nature of its shell accentuates the coloration even more. Consider yourself lucky if you find one of these snail shells washed up, as they often break from the waves.
35. Achatina zanzibarica
- Latin name: Achatina zanzibarica
- Habitat: Various habitat types in Zanzibar, Africa
- Size: Usually between about 3″ and 5.3″ long
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: This snail is a lot different from other members of its genus. Its shell is yellowish rather than dark brown. But the major difference is in the color of the body. As you can see in the picture, the body of the snail is sometimes white!
This interesting species varies a good bit when it comes to shell coloring, but on average, Achatina zanzibarica is more colorful than other Achatina species. Like other members of the genus, it can sometimes be kept as a pet. Though it is not as large as Achatina achatina, it nonetheless becomes an impressively large mollusk!
36. Milk Snail
- Latin name: Otala lactea
- Habitat: Native to the Mediterranean Basin, though it has been introduced to a number of different places.
- Size: Usually around 1.3″ long
- Diet: Various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: As you might guess, the milk snail’s base color is a milky white. It has eye-catching, high-contrast dark brown stripes that can form different patterns on each individual.
The milk snail has long been associated with humans. Archaeological digs have revealed that humans have eaten or otherwise used the snail since prehistoric times. Today, the snail is sometimes prepared as a delicacy. And thanks to its laid-back temperament and striking coloration, it is also one of the more popular land snails kept as a pet.
37. Mediterranean Green Snail
- Latin name: Cantareus apertus
- Habitat: Various habitat types in most parts of Europe and North Africa
- Size: Shell width is usually between 0.87″ and 1.1″
- Diet: Various types of plants
- Colorful feature: Like many other snail types, this one has a bit of variation in shell coloring. The shell in the picture is one of the more beautifully patterned ones. Although patterns are different, most have a brownish-green cast.
The green garden snail is most common around the Mediterranean Sea. However, it has been introduced to the United States as well. However, experts believe it has the potential to become a serious pest that threatens various crops and possibly even human health. As a result, it has been recommended that this snail be given quarantine significance.
38. White Garden Snail
- Latin name: Theba pisana
- Habitat: Mostly coastal environments in the Mediterranean and surrounding areas
- Size: Shell diameter is usually between 0.5″ and 0.6″
- Diet: Various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: These snails usually have a shell with a creamy base color. That base color is marked with a brown spiral stripe. However, there are several subspecies with different coloration. Most involve some level of patterning of dark brown and white or off-white.
The white garden snail is another common snail found in the Mediterranean region. And even though it’s very pretty, it can cause some serious problems. It likes to feed on agricultural crops and is present in large enough numbers to cause significant damage. It also will settle into the stalks of cereal plants. When the plants are harvested, the snails can both ruin the crop itself and cause the agricultural machinery to become clogged.
39. Roman Snail
- Latin name: Helix pomatia
- Habitat: Various habitats across much of Europe
- Size: Shell diameter is usually between 1.2″ and 2″
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: Though it isn’t the absolute most colorful snail on the list, as you can see in the photos, its shell is often patterned in light brown and dark brown. Some individual snails have more prominent markings than others.
The Roman snail is so named because it was introduced to England by the Romans. It has been eaten as a delicacy since ancient times, and it is the primary species used to make escargot. Even though escargot can command high prices, Roman snails are not usually farmed for food, as they are very difficult to cultivate.
40. Precious Wentletrap
- Latin name: Epitonium scalare
- Habitat: Usually in the Red Sea and in parts of the Indian and southwestern Pacific Oceans
- Size: Shell length is usually between 1″ and 3″
- Diet: Mostly corals and sea anemones
- Colorful feature: The precious wentletrap is a stunning porcelain white. The color is accentuated by the shell’s prominent rib-like structures that hold the whorls together.
This is one of the shells on the list that almost doesn’t look real. It is prized by collectors for its delicate appearance and large size. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was rare enough that it could be traded for very large sums of money.
41. Amber Snail
- Latin name: Succinea putris
- Habitat: Damp habitats across the Palearctic Realm
- Size: Shell is up to about 0.8″ long
- Diet: Mostly plants, diatoms, algae, fungi, and bacteria
- Colorful feature: The amber snail’s shell can be somewhat variable in color. The individuals in the picture are especially bright; you can see their incredibly bright yellow shells.
The small yet brightly-colored amber snail looks a bit different from many other snails on the list. Though its shell looks especially bright in life, the plain shell is more of a semi-translucent, softly shimmering yellow. And even though the amber snail looks especially striking, it is not typically kept as a pet.
42. Glossy Pillar Snail
- Latin name: Cochlicopa lubrica
- Habitat: Moist habitat types in many parts of Europe, especially Eastern Europe
- Size: Shell length is up to about 0.3″
- Diet: Mostly decaying plant material
- Colorful feature: True to the name, this snail’s most striking colorful feature is its extremely glossy shell. The shell usually ranges from reddish to yellowish. And as you can see in the picture, the body of the snail is also a beautiful pearlescent white.
This pretty, shiny snail is one of the smaller ones on the list. Consequently, it can be very hard to spot it when it is in its natural habitat. The glossy pillar snail prefers moist habitats, and its very glossy shell may help it to blend in with wet environments. As is the case with many snails, this one’s shell looks semi-translucent without the animal inside.
43. Garlic Glass Snail
- Latin name: Oxychilus alliarius
- Habitat: Several different habitat types in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, and surrounding areas
- Size: Shell diameter is up to about 0.3″
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant matter, though it will also eat other invertebrates as well as their eggs
- Colorful feature: This snail has a beautiful, glossy brownish shell. But its body may well be even more striking, as it’s a very dark slate blue.
You might wonder how a snail came to be named after garlic. After all, it doesn’t really resemble garlic at all. But if the snail is disturbed, it will produce a smell that’s similar to the smell of raw garlic. Just like many other glass snails, this one has a beautiful and distinctive shiny appearance.
44. Yellow White-Lipped Snail
- Latin name: Cepaea hortensis
- Habitat: Various habitat types across western and central Europe
- Size: Shell is usually about 1″ in diameter
- Diet: Mostly hogweed, nettles, and ragwort
- Colorful feature: This snail has some variability when it comes to coloring. The shell is almost always yellow, and it also usually has dark banding. As the name suggests, the opening of the shell almost always has a white lip.
As you may be able to tell by looking at it, this snail is closely related to the grove snail mentioned earlier. Its beautifully banded shell is one of the more eye-catching patterns on the list. Though its native habitat is in Europe, it has been introduced to parts of the northeastern United States. However, it has not been incredibly successful, and its population in the United States is not especially large.
45. Round Snail
- Latin name: Discus rotundatus
- Habitat: Mostly forested areas in western and central Europe
- Size: Shell diameter is about 0.28″
- Diet: Mostly algae, fungi, and plant debris
- Colorful feature: Like many species on the list, this one can vary somewhat in terms of coloration. As you can see in the picture, many have semi-translucent shells with a dark spiral stripe.
This might seem like an odd name for a snail. After all, plenty of species on the list appear to be round. But this one’s shell looks a little different; it is flat and disk-like. It also has many ribs that give it a uniquely textured appearance. You’ll need to look closely to see all these details, though; these snails are incredibly tiny!
46. Otway Black Snail
- Latin name: Victaphanta compacta
- Habitat: Rainforests in the Otway Ranges of Victoria, Australia
- Size: Shell is about 1.1″ in diameter
- Diet: Various snails, slugs, and earthworms
- Colorful feature: This snail is truly striking thanks to its deep black color. The shell itself is a dark, glassy black. The body of the animal itself is almost as dark, although it is sometimes more of a deep blue than black.
Unfortunately, the Otway black snail is one of the few snail species considered to be endangered. It may be endangered partially because its natural range is very small. If you want to see one in the wild, you may need to look very closely, as it’s surprisingly small.
47. Bat Volute
- Latin name: Cymbiola vespertilio
- Habitat: Warm waters off the coast of the Philippines and Northern Australia
- Size: Shell length is usually between 1.8″ and 6.3″ long
- Diet: Various types of marine snails
- Colorful feature: The bat volute, like many other predatory sea snails, has unique coloration made up of brown and white mottling. Its patchy pattern varies somewhat among individuals.
Many of us are familiar with conchs and other common marine gastropods, but not everyone has heard of volutes. The bat volute is a sleek-looking species with somewhat minimal spikes at the top of the whorls. At first glance, it looks a bit like a very large geography cone.
48. Perspective Sundial
- Latin name: Architectonica perspectiva
- Habitat: Coral reefs around Indo-Pacific Asia
- Size: Shell is usually between 2″ and 2.8″ in diameter
- Diet: Largely corals and anemones
- Colorful feature: This stunning shell looks more and more stunning the closer you get to it. It is shaped a lot like a sundial and is marked in whirling lines of black, brown, and tan. The body of the snail itself is also especially striking; it is striped in black and white.
This large sea snail is one of the more unusual creatures on the list. Unfortunately, its population has been impacted by shell collecting. In some cases, people will take live snails from their habitats by mistake because they think they’re empty shells.
49. Chinese Cowrie
- Latin name: Ovatipsa chinensis
- Habitat: Warm waters in the Indian Ocean and central Pacific Ocean
- Size: Shells are usually between 0.98″ and 1.97″ long
- Diet: Largely coral
- Colorful feature: This stunning cowrie is colorful in life as well as death. When it’s alive, its mantle is bright red and appears spiky when fully extended. The plain shell is colorful as well; the top is mottled with golden brown and the edges have magenta spots.
The Chinese cowrie is one of the most stunning sea snails on the list. Like other cowries, it typically comes out to feed at night. However, during the day, you may find it resting under corals and in sheltered areas.
50. Tiger Cowrie
- Latin name: Cypraea tigris
- Habitat: Mostly coral reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region
- Size: Shell is up to about 6″ long
- Diet: Various species of invasive sea sponges
- Colorful feature: Like many cowrie species, the tiger cowrie looks much different when it is alive. When alive, its mantle extends dramatically outward and appears spiky. The name comes from the shell, which appears spotted. However, the spots look more like leopard or cheetah spots than they do tiger stripes.
The tiger cowrie is one of the most beautiful cowrie shells. It was used ornamentally in ancient times, but even today, it is prized by shell collectors. Historically, it has even been used for artistic engraving!
51. Sea Butterfly
- Latin name: Limacina helicina
- Habitat: Arctic Ocean and some surrounding waters
- Size: Up to about 0.2″ long
- Diet: Small plankton it catches in mucus webs
- Colorful feature: These strange snails are almost translucent. But as you can see in the photo, they often have hints of purple or fiery orange!
The sea butterfly may look like a strange, floating creature. But it’s actually a species of sea snail that survives by floating and catching plankton. This species lives in Arctic waters. There is a similar but distinct species that swims in the Antarctic Ocean.
52. Florida Fighting Conch
- Latin name: Strombus alatus
- Habitat: Many parts of the western Atlantic Ocean
- Size: Shells are up to about 4.4″ long
- Diet: Largely various types of marine plant matter
- Colorful feature: This conch’s shell has a much warmer orange color than many conch shells. Some individual conchs have more elaborate patterns and/or brighter colors.
You might wonder why this snail is called the “fighting conch.” There’s a good reason: if you pick it up, it will try to cut you with the operculum. That’s the hard cover that serves as the “door” to the shell when the animal goes back inside. This might be the only snail species that will try to fight you!
Nature’s Most Colorful Snails
Whether you come across a garden snail outside or an underwater sea snail, you’re sure to run into snails from time to time. Though they may be small and slow-moving, these remarkable creatures certainly add color to the world!