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Snails of Hawaii

April 19, 2012

And now for something completely different–the (supposedly) Singing Snails of Hawaii. The singing of these snails may be stuff of legend, but Hawaiians sing songs about them. They do have gorgeous shells, and they give live birth (instead of eggs, like normal snails.) These snails climb trees and supposedly help keep the leaves clean. The greatest danger these snails face is rats, unfortunately. But with luck they can hide under a wiliwili tree.

What do you think snails are good for?


  1. Frank Caesar Branchini permalink
    April 19, 2012 8:31 pm

    They are incredibly beautiful and I love the idea of singing snails. Sounds pretty sci fi to me! Hawaii is one of the places I would most love to go.

  2. April 19, 2012 11:50 pm

    Right now, they’re most good for making conservationists really, really sad. Based on what little I know about their biology, I think the Hawaiian snails probably take the role of some fungivorous beetles in other systems.

    There’s a neat exhibit on snails at the Hilo Museum. It’s depressing how many are extinct, but that’s unfortunately par for the course on islands. They are gorgeous snails, even if you’re not a conchologist. The sad part is that they used to be so plentiful, even in living memory.

    This is one place where citizen science could conceivably do a great deal of good. Some of the snails are stuck on a few protected trees, and keeping a grove rat-free so that the snails can proliferate is one of those situations where some dedicated amateurs can make a huge difference. I hope some people take up the challenge.

    We’ll just add them to the list of species (along with many species of Astragalus, orchids, buckwheats…) that badly need champions. Those champions don’t need to have PhDs, just a big heart for off-beat organisms.

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