Pillar Snails (Cochlicopidae)

Glossy pillar snail (Cochlicopa cf. lubrica).
Picture: Bramblejungle (Source).


Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Pulmonata
Superorder: Eupulmonata
Order: Stylommatophora
Suborder: Orthurethra
Superfamily: Cochlicopoidea
Family: Cochlicopidae Pilsbry 1900 (1879)

Source: Mollbase on http://www.mollbase.de/list/.

Glossy pillar snail (Cochlicopa cf. lubrica).
Picture: Alexander Mrkvicka, Vienna (mrkvicka.at).

Pillar snails are small terrestrial pulmonate snails with a smooth, glossy shell. The smoothness of their shell is a special protection of this snail family against predators. The snail will help this by continuously cleaning its shell with the radula.

Glossy Pillar - Cochlicopa lubrica (O. F. Müller 1774)

Cochlicopa lubrica.

Picture: Helmut Nisters.

Description: The glossy and smooth shell of the glossy pillar is elongately oval with a rounded tip (apex). The shell's colour is yellowish horn coloured to reddish brown. On the inside, the shell's aperture is slightly thickened. The shell is a bit larger than in Cochlicopa lubricella, less cylindrical and the whorls are a little more rounded. Single shells can easily be confounded with Cochlicopa lubricella, but especially with Cochlicopa repentina.

Dimensions: H: 5 - 7.5 mm; W: 2.4 - 2.9 mm; N: 6. (Abbreviations).

Habitat and Distribution: Cochlicopa lubrica mainly lives in moderately humid biotopes, such as valley meadows and flood plains, where it hides in grass and duff, but also under rotten wood and in the forests' leaf litter. Tolerating ground poor in limestone, the species appears in the lowlands as well as in the mountains. The glossy pillar feeds mainly on dead plant matter, microbial fungi and detritus, but sometimes also eats fresh plant parts. The species' distribution area is holarctic (see: Faunal provinces of the Earth), in Switzerland the glossy pillar can be found in altitudes as high as 2600 m MSL.

In contrary to that, Cochlicopa repentina and Cochlicopa lubricella both live in drier places, Cochlicopa lubricella even in meadow habitats on dry slopes. Both species are coloured more lightly than Cochlicopa lubrica. On the other hand, Cochlicopa repentina may not even be an independent species, but rather a (among other things ecological) variety of Cochlicopa lubrica.

The robust pillar (Cochlicopa nitens) finally is characterized by a large, ventricose shell with bulbous whorls. It occurs in unharmed wetlands and calcareous fenlands. In Central Europe, the species' distribution area is discontinuous, and throughout its distribution area, the species is regarded as threatened.

Francisco Welter-Schultes: Cochlicopa lubrica species homepage.
Aydin Örstan: A confusing snail in the backyard.
Georg F. J. Armbruster: Systematics of land snails. On the consequences of genetic research on the conventional systematics of land snails, for example of the Cochlicopidae.