White-lipped banded snail (Cepaea hortensis)

GenusCepaea (1)
SizeShell height: 15-16 mm (2)
Shell breadth: 16-22 mm (2)

The white-lipped banded snail is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The white-lipped banded snail has a glossy, smooth shell, which is typically yellow in colour but may be pink, brown or red, with up to 5 variable spiral dark bands and an obvious white lip around the aperture. Occasionally a dark-lipped form of this species may arise, which makes identification more complicated. It is similar in appearance to the brown-lipped banded snail (Cepaea nemoralis), but it has a thinner shell, with more rounded whorls (2). The body of the snail is usually greenish-grey becoming yellow towards the rear (2).

This snail is common and widespread in Britain (3). Elsewhere it is found in Europe (2).

This species occurs in a range of habitats, including waste ground, woodland, hedgerows and grassland (4), and is often found in dense vegetation. In Scotland, it inhabits sand dunes and cliffs (3).

The white-lipped banded snail is a gregarious species which is active during the day in damp, mild conditions and can be found resting attached to plants in sheltered locations at other times (3). The preferred food plants of this snail include nettles, ragwort and hogweed. The shells of this species can often be found around thrush anvils, stones that thrushes use to break open snail shells (3). Individuals can live for up to three years (3).

These snails are hermaphrodites, meaning that one individual possesses both male and female reproductive organs. Although they are able to self-fertilise, most individuals mate with another snail (5). Breeding takes place from spring to autumn, and begins with pairing and courtship. Each snail pierces the skin of its partner with a calcareous 'love dart', a spiny projection which is covered in mucus; the function of this love dart is unclear. Mating then takes place, the snails separate, and the eggs are laid deep in the soil (2).

Not currently threatened.

Conservation action has not been targeted at this common species.

For more on invertebrates and their conservation see Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2011)
  2. Janus, H (1982) The illustrated guide to molluscs. Harold Starke Ltd. London.
  3. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (March 2003):
  4. University of Paisley, Biodiversity Reference (March 2003):
  5. Pfleger, V. & Chatfield, J. (1983) A guide to snails of Britain and Europe. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., London.