- Federal Status: Not Listed
- FL Status: No longer listed in Florida as of January 11, 2017, but is part of the Imperiled Species Management Plan.
- FNAI Ranks: FNAI recognizes two separate subspecies of the Florida tree snail L.F. matecumbensis:G3T2/S2 (Globally: Rare, Sub sp. Imperiled/State: Imperiled) L.F. septentrionalis: G3T2/S1 (Globally: Rare, Sub sp. Imperiled/State: Critically Imperiled)
- IUCN Status: Not ranked
The Florida tree snail can reach a length of two to three inches (5.1 - 7.6 centimeters). This species is multi-colored, with colors ranging from white to almost black. The shell is wrapped in spirals of emerald green, chestnut, orange, yellow, or pink. All together, there have been more than 50 color varieties named.
The diet of the Florida tree snail primarily consists of lichens, fungi, and algae scraped from smooth-barked trees.
Florida tree snails are hermaphrodites – they have both male and female sex organs. Sexual maturity is generally reached at two to three years of age (United States Geological Survey 2009). Mating occurs during late summer rains. They lay pea-sized eggs in nests placed at the base of trees. The eggs lie in the nest until the next rainy season when the young hatch and crawl up the tree. Young tree snails are known as buttons.
Habitat and Distribution:
The Florida tree snail inhabits tropical hardwood hammocks in extreme southern mainland Florida, and in the Florida Keys. Outside of Florida, the species is found in Cuba, including both the main island and the Isle of Youth (formerly known as the Isle of Pines).
The main threat to the Florida tree snail is the loss of habitat (Emmel and Cotter 1995). Its habitat selection is extremely specific as the species prefers smooth barked trees in tropical hardwood hammocks. This species’ specific habitat need puts it at risk because of the limited amount of available tropical hardwood hammock habitat. Habitat disturbance can also cause an unsuitable change to the microclimate (small confined areas with different climate conditions than its surroundings) for the tree snail (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). Florida tree snails also face the threat of fire ants, which have been known to kill tree snails during their times of hibernation (Smith 1997, Forys et al. 2003). Tree snails in the Lower Keys face the danger of hurricane storm surge and sea level rise.
Emmel, T. C. and A. J. Cotter. 1995. A summary of historical distribution and current status of the Florida tree snail, Liguus fasciatus. FL Game and Fresh Water Fish Comm. Nongame Wildlife Program Project Report 467pp + viii. Tallahassee, FL
Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 2001. Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Liguus_fasciatus.pdf
Forys, E. A., C. R. Allen, and D. P. Wojcik. 2003. The Potential for Negative Impacts by Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) on Listed Herpetofauna, Mammals, and Invertebrates in the Florida Keys. Final Report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
Smith, B. 1997. A Partial Survey of Florida Tree Snail (Liguus fasciatus) Distribution in Big Cypress National Preserve. Final Report submitted to the National Park Service at Big Cypress National Preserve.
United States Geological Survey. 2009. Southeast Ecological Science Center. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from The Florida Tree Snail: http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/sofla/Tree_Snail/tree_snail.html
Image Credit FWC