Tree Snail

Photo of the Tree Snail/Caracol

Tree Snail (Eng.), Caracol (Sp.), Caracolus caracolla (Sci.), native species Puerto Rico.

Photo © Father Alejandro Sánchez. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Taxonomy: Class – Gastropoda, Genus – Caracolus, Species – C. caracolla.

Description

Caracolus caracolla is a fairly large tree snail. Its symmetrical, circular patterned shell can measure from 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 centimeters) in diameter. Like most snails, C. caracolla has two pairs of tentacles on its head. The longer pair is for the eyes, while the shorter pair is used for smelling and feeling.

Habits

C. caracolla moves by creeping on a flat “foot” located underneath the body. The foot contains a gland that secretes a slimy mucus which produces a slippery track, thus facilitating travel. It has a rough tongue called a “radula” which is used to scrape-off and eat leaves (both dead and green), fungi, algae and flowers on forest trees and plants such as the heliconia, which it seems to prefer. C. caracolla can live for as long as ten years. Interestingly, C. caracolla is “hermaphroditic” – it is both male and female, producing both eggs and sperm, exchanging genetic materials during intercourse. C. caracolla reaches maturity between three and six years of age, reproducing when an internal gland produces albumen, a protein rich material necessary to feed young before they are hatched. Reproduction occurs during the dry month’s of late winter/early spring.

Habitat

Upper and mid-level moist forest.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

On trees and plants near nature trails above 1,000 feet (300 meters) in elevation.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/elyunque/learning/nature-science/?cid=fsbdev3_043013