Liguus fasciatus, or “living jewels,” are colorful tree snails living in southern Florida, Cuba, and Hispaniola.
There are more than 50 different named color varieties. In the Florida Everglades, they are found in hardwood hammocks, which are dry habitats with hardwood trees at a higher elevation than most of the Everglades. DMNH has thousands of Liguus shell specimens in its scientific collections. Last year, Mollusk Collections Manager Alex Kittle and Paul Roth explored the Gumbo Limbo Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Center at Everglades National Park, observing and photographing a variety of these fascinating and beautiful snails. Take a look at some of the snails they discovered!
Liguus mate in the late summer. The process can take up to two days. Snails are hermaphrodites. They climb down the trees to lay eggs in the ground. Then, snails climb back up to estivate during the winter/early spring. Usually they pause, growing the shell during this dry season, and you can see distinctive rest stages in the shell growth. Breaks can occur in early shell growth especially if they fall out of the tree.
Yellow is probably the most common color of Liguus snails. Color is a pigment that is incorporated in the shell itself except for the color green, which is actually periostracum (a thin layer on the surface of the shell).
Photos by Paul Roth.