Quick Guide

This is a guide to woodland land snails large enough that you might see them as you walk through the local hiking trails at many State parks or other trails and natural areas. Look at the trail’s edge or the hillside slope. On wetter days, you might see one cross a trail.

​It is most likely you will see an abandoned shell. Examine it carefully for the important snail characteristics described next and use the descriptions of species to guide you. Fresh shells are best since, with weathering, some characteristics may be lost. As well, adult snails are better than juveniles. If you have a live snail, gently poke it to draw into the shell so you can look for “teeth”.

​In many cases, an identification to an exact species will not be possible, but you can most likely get it to the genus – or type of snail. The snail you find may also not be one of those listed here. When done, please return the animal or its shell back to where you found it.

A 2-page (front/back printable pdf) trifold of this quick guide. 

Snails may be “taller than wide” or “wider than tall”. The common snails covered in the print guide provided above are all wider than tall. Three "taller than wide" forms are given at the end of this page (but are not in the Guide). 

image of a "taller than wide" snail

taller than wide

image of a "wider than tall" snail

wider than tall

Important Snail Characteristics

Umbilicus – The umbilicus is found on the underside. It may be open widely or narrowly (like a pinhole called perforate) or be covered over completely (closed) or partially by shell material called callous.

comparison of umbilicus types

Apertural Lip – The snail emerges from the shell through the opening called the aperture. The edge of the aperture is the lip and it may be plain (unreflected) or turned back, called “reflected”. The reflected lip may be thicker or thinner. Many of the common large woodland snails are Polygyrid snails - they have reflected lips as adults, but not juveniles. You may find a juvenile Polygyrid and confuse it with something else - but watch for the whorl pattern and overall shape. 

comparison of reflected and unreflected lip
labeled image of apertural teeth

Apertural Teeth – Teeth may be absent or present around the inside of the aperture as shown here. The shape and size are important features. The parietal tooth lays against the body whorl in the opening called the aperture. The basal tooth is found on the lower edge of the apertural lip. The palatal tooth is on the outer edge of the lip. They each can vary a bit in shape or placement. 

Spire – The spire refers to how high the shell has grown. Some stay low (depressed) while some grow taller (globose) with others in between. Some are shaped like “pills”. 

comparison of depressed and globose shell

Photographing Land Snails

​If you look at snail posts at iNaturalist.com, most only give one view - the top usually. For the most proper identification of "wider than tall" snails, at least three views are needed, as seen in the species descriptions that follow: top, bottom, and side looking at the aperture. Actually, two separate side views are better – one showing the aperture and any teeth, but clearly showing the height of the shell to help determine the type of spire - and one more close directly into the aperture showing the nature of any teeth. For "taller than wide" snails a front view of the entire snail with the aperture and a closer view of the aperture will usually do.

The Most Commonly Encountered Species

Whitelip Globe (Mesodon thyroidus)

Whitelip Globe (Mesodon thyroidus)

Umbilicus = open, but slight covered by callus (rimate); Spire = globose; Lip = reflected; Teeth = small parietal; Diameter = 17-25 mm. 

Notes: The partially open umbilicus and parietal tooth are key. But, some toothless forms exist. The Yellow Globlet is superficially similar but slightly smaller (although there can  be overlap) but lacks the parietal tooth and is rounder. The Eastern Whitelip is also superficially similar from above (often confused on iNaturalist), but it has a closed umbilicus. 

See more on the Whitelip Globe. The other two species are pictured below.

Toothed Globe (Mesodon zaletus)

Toothed Globe (Mesodon zaletus)

Umbilicus = closed; Spire = subglobose; Lip = reflected; Teeth = small blunt parietal; Diameter = 19-25 mm or more. 

Notes: The closed umbilicus separates the Toothed Globe from the rimate species (White-lip Globe and yellow Globelet). This is a sturdy-looking snail. 

See more on the Toothed Globe.

Gray-foot Lancetooth (Haplotrema concavum)

Gray-foot Lancetooth (Haplotrema concavum)

​Umbilicus = open; Spire = depressed; Lip = plain; Teeth = none; Diameter = 12-14 mm or more. This is a carnivorous snail. 

Notes: This is a distinctive shell. it is very flat (depressed) with whorls that increase in size. The edge (lip) of the aperture is also thick, sort of rounded (but not turned back, or reflected, like the Polygyrids). The umbilicus is wide and spirals out like a cinnamon roll.

See more on Haplotrema.

comparison of Wedge and Bladetooth snails

Wedge Snails (Xolotrema) and Bladetooth Snails (Patera)


Umbilicus= closed; Spire = depressed; Lip = reflected; Diameter = 14 mm or more. 

Notes: These two types of snails are similar. They both have a parietal tooth, but the Wedge Snails also have a long basal tooth and a small palatal tooth (see images). The shoulder of outer whorl (left side in this image of the Wedge Snails) is more rounded, while in the Bladetooth Snails, it is more blunt.

Globose Dome (Ventridens ligera)

Globose Dome (Ventridens ligera)

Umbilicus = perforate; Spire = dome-shaped; Lip = plain; Teeth = none; Diameter = 7-11 mm. 

Notes: The tiny perforate umbilicus with the slight domed shell are key. There are many whorls considering the size of the shell. Be sure to get a good side view. Look for the callus on the interior of the aperture.

See more on the Dome Snails.

Shagreen (Inflectarius)

Shagreen (Inflectarius

Umbilicus = closed; Spire = subglobose-depressed; Lip = reflected; Teeth = curved parietal, blunt basal, blunt palatal; Diameter = 8-14 mm. 

Notes: First glance can confuse this group with Three-tooth snails or Slitmouth  snails and Pillsnails. First, the umbilicus is closed (not a Three-tooth). Second, while this shell’s shape is slightly similar to the pill-shape of Pillsnails and Slitmouth snails, its aperture is more open.

See more on the Shagreens.

Threetooth Snails (Triodopsis)

Threetooth Snails (Triodopsis)

Umbilicus = open; Spire = depressed; Lip = reflected; Teeth = parietal, basal, and palatal; Diameter = 10-12 mm. 

Note: Superficially similar to Shagreen, but the umbilicus is open here. It is flat (depressed) with many whorls, and has three apertural teeth. 

See more on the Threetooth Snails.

Flamed Tigersnail (Anguispira alternata)

Flamed Tigersnail (Anguispira alternata

Umbilicus = open; Spire = globose to subglobose; Lip = plain; Teeth = none; Diameter = 15-24 mm. 

Notes: Shell has orange-red stripes or bands (bands in the case of the Banded Forestsnail (A. kochi), but stripes in the case of A. alternata pictured here). 

See more on the Tigersnails.

Eastern Whitelip Snail (Neohelix albolabris)

Eastern Whitelip Snail (Neohelix albolabris)

Umbilicus = closed; Spire = subglobose; Lip = reflected; Teeth = none; Diameter = ~ 17-45 mm. 

Notes: The Eastern Whitelip Snail and the White-lip Globe Snail are among the two most-often confused land snail species on iNaturalist. This is due to the use of single photos just from the top view. A bottom view will allow the observer to separate those two species based on the umbilicus (closed or partially open) and the tooth (absent or present).

See more on Whitelip Snails.

Slitmouth Snails (Stenotrema)

Slitmouth Snails (Stenotrema)

Umbilicus = closed; Shell = pill-shaped; Lip = reflected; Aperture = long and narrow; Teeth = long parietal, long basal with a notch, palatal varies; Diameter = 9-13 mm. 

Notes: Very similar to the Pillsnails (Euchemotrema) which lack the notch in the long basal tooth. In some species of Stenotrema, the notch is small and the aperture very narrow - look carefully.

See more on the Slitmouth Snails and the Pillsnails.

Broad-banded Forestsnail (Allogona profunda)

Broad-banded Forestsnail (Allogona profunda)

Umbilicus = umbilicate; Spire = subglobose; Lip = reflected (broken in this specimen); Teeth = none; Shell = darker brown stripe; Diameter = 19-27 mm or more. 

Notes: Not really a common species, but you can run across it. The large umbilicus and wide apertural lip with that little kink along the upper edge help distinguish this species. This is a large snail. You might confuse a weathered specimen with a weathered Banded Tigersnail.

See more on Allogona.

Proud Globe (Mesodon elevatus)

Proud Globe (Mesodon elevatus)

Umbilicus = closed; Spire = high, very globose; Lip = reflected; Teeth = longer parietal; Diameter = 18-26 mm. 

Notes: Superficially similar to the Toothed Globe, but the tooth is larger, the shell spire higher, and the lower stretch (basal) of aperture straighter giving a different aspect.

See more on the Proud Globe.

Yellow Globelet (Mesodon clausus)

Yellow Globelet (Mesodon clausus)

Umbilicus = rimate; Spire = globose; Lip = reflected; Teeth = none; Diameter = ~15-20 mm. 

Notes: See Mesodon thyroidus above.

See more on Mesodon clausus.

The following "taller than wide" snails are not in the guide (no space and these are less likely to be seen by the casual observer).

Amber Snails (Family Succineidae)

Succineids may be found near the margins of ponds, marshes, streams, and lakes or on associated wet grounds. See more here.

White-lip Dagger
Pupoides albilabris (C. B. Adams, 1841)
Family Pupillidae

The White-lip Dagger is an elongate “pupa” shaped snail, about ¼ inch tall. The lip is thick, wide, and reflected – there are no teeth. It is not easily confused with other pupa-shaped snails

See more on  Pupillids.

Gastrocopta (Snaggletooth Snails)

See more on on Snaggletooth Snails.