What is a Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail?
Its name is surely bigger than the animal itself! This aquatic snail is rarely more than 5mm in diameter, but it’s one of the rarest, most restricted and most vulnerable freshwater molluscs in Britain.
It has very particular requirements; it needs unpolluted, chalky waters such as marshland ditches, with just the right vegetation. Once found in about 15 sites in south-east England, it’s now largely restricted to just three.
Why are they in trouble?
Loss of suitable wetlands is part of the problem, but also inappropriate management of remaining wetlands and poor water quality. They don’t like cloudy or polluted water. It’s possible that the presence of carp at some sites is a problem, as these fish tend to stir up the sediment.
How we will help the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail?
This Back from the Brink project is led by the RSPB. The Arun Valley in West Sussex is one of the few strongholds for this snail. We are managing ditches to provide good habitat, and we’ll be creating more. We’ll test factors that may affect whether or not a ditch will be suitable for the species, so that we understand better how to help it. And we’ll investigate how cloudy the water is and whether carp are causing the problem.
We’ll monitor how this little snail is getting on wherever it is living, and we may also try reintroducing some into parts of its former range at RSPB Pulborough Brooks nature reserve.
What we’re aiming for
By the end of the Project, we want to understand more about the habitat requirements of the Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail, and how to provide them. We aim to keep all of the current populations healthy, and encourage the snail to spread into new areas.
How to get involved
Can you help us monitor the state of our ditches and tell people about the need for clean water?
You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.
Monitoring of water quality
Habitat creation and ditch management
Spring and Autumn 2018
Monitoring for snails