Brown or white lip?


The brown-lipped or grove snail (Cepaea nemoralis) is one of the most common species of land snail in Europe.

The brown-lipped snail is closely related to the white-lipped snail (Cepaea hortensis).  Adult brown-lipped snails almost always have a dark brown lip to the shell whilst adult white-lipped snails almost always have a white lip.  However, brown-lipped snails can have a white lip, and white-lipped snails can have a brown lip.   To definitively tell them apart, it would be necessary to dissect the specimens and examine their reproductive organs.

The two species share the same habitats, such as woods, dunes and grassland, but the white-lipped snail tolerates wetter and colder areas than the brown-lipped snail.

The two species have a similar range of shell colours and patterns, eg, white, yellow, pink, brown or banded combinations.  The snails often seem to be camouflaged by darker colours in shady woodland and lighter colours in sunny grassland.   Stripy snails may merge against patterns of light and shade such as might be found in a hedgerow.

Other factors may play a role such as paler shells being advantageous in hot environments to reflect light and reduce water loss.


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