Otway Black Snail

(Victaphanta Compacta)

Otway Black Snails are carnivorous, eating insect larvae, earthworms, slugs and other snails.

DESCRIPTION

The Otways Black Snail is a very special species of carnivorous air-breathing land snail, found only in the cool temperate rainforests of the Otway Ranges. With a grey-blue to black body and a glossy black (sometimes dark brown) shell, these little snails grow to a maximum diameter of 28mm. The shell is thin and moderately flexible, and composed mostly of conchin – the fibrous insoluble protein that forms the basic structure of molluscs. Unlike other species of Vicaphanta snails, the Otways Black Snail does not have an orange frill around its foot, or any orange mucous.

Partially nocturnal, these snails can be seen during the day in cool, damp weather.  In the grounds of Wildlife Wonders you are most likely to find them down near the pond or close to the stream. They feed on slugs, other snails, earthworms and soft-bodied insect larvae, but they do not eat their own species. While herbivorous snails have jaws, the Otways black snails  instead have long, sharp, backwards pointing teeth arranged in V-shaped rows on the underside of their foot, which hold the prey while it is devoured.

Little is known about their lifespan, but based on other species in the same family it is thought to be 2-8 years. They lay clumps of small, hard white eggs.

With such a small range (they can be found only in the Otways) these marvellous snails are very susceptible to damage to their habitat.

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