Maputaland cannibal snail (Natalina wesseliana)

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Maputaland cannibal snail
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Maputaland cannibal snail fact file

Maputaland cannibal snail description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderStylommatophora
FamilyRhytididae
GenusNatalina (1)

Named for their snail-eating habits (2) (3), cannibal snails (Rhytididae) feed using a rasping tongue-like structure known as a radula, which bears long, curved teeth, a specialisation for their carnivorous diet (4). The orange-brown body of the Maputaland cannibal snail is large and broad, and carries a thin brown shell with rapidly expanding whorls and a large opening (2).

Also known as
Tongaland cannibal snail.
Size
Shell diameter: up to 70 mm (2)
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Maputaland cannibal snail biology

Very little has been documented on this snail’s biology and behaviour, which remain poorly understood. Like other cannibal snails, this species is carnivorous, feeding on other molluscs and probably also earthworms (2) (4).

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Maputaland cannibal snail range

Ranges from central Zululand north to Maputo in southern Mozambique, primarily near the coast (2).

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Maputaland cannibal snail habitat

This species is known from dune, coastal lowland and scarp forest, but probably also occurs in other wooded habitats (2).

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Maputaland cannibal snail status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Maputaland cannibal snail threats

The Maputaland cannibal is threatened by ongoing habitat loss and degradation as a result of conversion to agricultural land, wood plantations and mining (2), as well as ever increasing pressure from local communities on the few remaining pristine habitats (5).

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Maputaland cannibal snail conservation

There are currently no conservation measures specifically targeting this species, although it is known to occur in conservation areas (Hluhluwe-Imfolosi Game Reserve and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Maputaland cannibal snail see:

  • Herbert, D.G. & Kilburn, R.N. (2004) Field guide to the land snails and slugs of eastern South Africa. 340pp. Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.

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Authentication

Authenticated (13/07/2006) by Dr. Dai G. Herbert, Chief Curator: Mollusca, Natal Museum, and member of the IUCN/SSC Southern African Invertebrate, and Mollusc Specialist Groups.
http://www.nmsa.org.za/

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Glossary

Carnivore
Flesh-eating.
Radula
A flexible tongue-like organ in certain molluscs that has rows of horny teeth on the surface and is used to rasp at food.
Whorls
In molluscs,the spiral coils of the shell of a snail.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2006)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. Inland Invertebrate Initiative: Database of Threatened Invertebrates of South Africa (July, 2006)
    http://www.ukzn.ac.za/redlist/detail_page.asp?id=75
  3. The Trail of the Snail (July, 2006)
    http://arnobrosi.tripod.com/Rhytidacea.html
  4. Discover Life (July, 2006)
    http://pick5.pick.uga.edu/mp/20q?search=Rhytididae&guide=Groups_Mollusca
  5. Herbert, D. (2006) Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Maputaland cannibal snail  
Maputaland cannibal snail

© Dai Herbert / Natal Museum

Dai Herbert, Natal Museum
dherbert@nmsa.org.za

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