The Jewels of the Everglades

Posted by on Jan 2nd 2016

The Jewels of the Everglades

The wilderness of Everglades attracts tourists from all over the world due to an array of wildlife living here.

People come on birding trips to see rare and endangered bird species. They also come to see the elusive 

Florida panther, American crocodile, or even a black bear.

Anglers go fishing in its backwaters to catch fish. But alongside these, Everglades also houses tiny creatures

with jewel-like shells that are almost becoming extinct today, the tree snail. These tree snails are found only in

the hardwood hammocks of Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades National Park and nowhere else

in the United States.

Where to look for them?

Today the decimating number of these snails has made them a rarity. They can be seen easily if you know

where to look for them. Liguus tree snails look like gems with the pink, yellow, brown, and green spiralling

stripes on their crusts.

If you are lucky enough, you can see 500 different color combinations while walking through Tree Snail

Hammock Nature Trail during Florida’s dry season. It is really enjoying and thrilling to spot liguus snails on the

trees. They will be seen grazing on algae or clinging to smooth-barked trees such as Spanish stopper and

Jamaican dogwood.

The Tree Snail Hammock is a lovely place. There is a trail that pierces through the thick, dark tropical forest.

The trail is canopied with branches of trees overhead and is dotted with limestone crags. Walking through the

trail is easy and comfortable. The footpath is delineated with a yellow rope and there are numerous benches to

rest on. Walk slowly to spot the snails on the way.

Characteristics of these snails

The tree snails feed on algae and fungus scraped from smooth-barked trees. They are mainly found on trees like

wild tamarind, pigeon plum, myrsine, and bustic. Their large foots secrete mucus of thin consistency on which

they slide.

They are found almost all round the year but are most active during the rainy season, from May through

September, especially after a downpour. In winters they go on hibernation attaching their shells tightly on the

tree bark. If they are removed they will die. In the monsoons you can spot their pea-sized, pearly eggs in the

stays near the bottom of the trees. Baby snails, also called "buttons," come out of these and crawl up the tree.

Please leave them alone

These snails attract tourists for their colorful shells. They were taken out from their lairs erstwhile to collect

their crusts. Moreover pesticides and destruction of their habitat are also reducing their population. As a result

they are listed as species of special concern in Florida. Please do not disturb them. Behold them in the wild,

appreciate them, and leave them alone. If left untampered, these jewels of Everglades can grow up to two 

inches in diameter and 18 cm in length. That’s quite a size for a snail indeed!

Planning to visit the beautiful and endangered ecosystem of the Everglades? Contact us for the Everglades