How to identify slugs and snails

Mild, damp nights are ideal for searching for slugs and snails. Here are 12 species to look for. 

Great grey slug, Limax maximus

                                                                           Illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole 


1 Great grey slug Limax maximus (above)

Up to 20cm. Also called the leopard slug due to its dark blotches. Gardens and woods; can climb trees and walls.



2 Yellow slug Limax flavus

Up to 13cm. Yellower than the similar great grey slug. Gardens, cellars and outhouses; can climb walls.



3 Large black slug Arion ater

Up to 13cm. Typically black with an orange frill (above); brown and orange forms also occur. Gardens and woodland.



4 Tree slug Lehmannia marginata

Up to 8cm. Like a small great grey slug. Woods and rocky places; climbs trees and rocks to graze algae and lichen.



5 Worm slug Boettgerilla pallens

Up to 5.5cm. Greyish and worm-like. Gardens, under bricks or rubbish. Introduced; first noted in UK in 1972.



6 Prickly snail Acanthinula aculeata

Shell 2mm (a hand lens is needed to examine this species). Unmistakable prickles. Woods and hedgerows.



7 Crystal snail Vitrea crystallin

Shell 3–4mm. Near-circular, glassy, transparent shell with regular whorls. Woods, meadows and road verges. 



8 Rounded snail Discus rotundatus

Shell 5–7mm. Circular shell with radiating grooves and brown bands. Woods, gardens and hedgerows.



9 Girdled snail Hygromia cinctella

Shell 10–12mm. Pale brown shell has a white ridge or keel. Plant nurseries and gardens. Introduced; spreading fast.



10 Common chrysalis snail Lauria cylindracea

Shell 3–4mm. Commonest of several similar snails. Gardens, woods and rocky places; often under ivy on walls.



11 Common door-snail Clausilia bidentata

Shell up to 12mm. Woods and rocky places. One of several spire-shaped snails found on tree bark or walls.



12 Plaited door-snail Cochlodina laminata

Shell 15–17mm. Larger and more robust than Clausilia, with ‘polished wood’ tones. Woods and rocky places.


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