great pond snail

(Lymnaea stagnalis)

Conservation Status
great pond snail
Photo by Luciearl
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Great pond snail is a very large, air-breathing, freshwater snail. It occurs in Europe, Asia, North America, and southern Australia. It occurs throughout the United States and Canada, but it is uncommon south of the 40th parallel. It is common in Minnesota. It is found in permanent, slow or still waters, usually with dense vegetation, including creeks, streams, rivers, marshes, swamps, and reservoirs, and at the edges of lakes and large ponds.

Great pond snail is commonly sold as an aquarium pet. It has recently become the subject of scientific research into handedness (chirality).

Adults can be 1¾ to 2¾ (45 to 70 mm) long and ¾ to 1316 (20 to 30 mm) wide, but they are usually no more than 2¼ (56 mm) long.

The shell is thin and fragile. It has 4½ to 6 complete (360°), weakly convex rotations (whorls). The last whorl (body whorl) above the opening is suddenly and greatly inflated. The remaining whorls are elevated and gradually reduced in size, forming a long, sharply pointed spire. When seen with the tip at the top and the opening facing up, the opening is on the right side. This is referred to as an elevated spire, right-handed, shell. There is no door-like structure (operculum) covering the opening of the shell. The shell base color is variable, from tan to dark brown. It has no obvious markings. A cavity within the shell has an air bubble that is refreshed every time the snail rises to the water surface to breathe.

The head is divided into two flat lateral lobes at the end. There is a single pair of sensory tentacles on the head and a small eye at the base of each tentacle. The tentacles are flat, wide, and triangular. The body contains both male and female reproductive organs (hermaphroditic). During copulation either the male role or the female role can be performed, though not both.




1¾ to 2 (45 to 60 mm) long


Similar Species


Permanent, slow or still waters; creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, marshes, and swamps.








Although it can inhale oxygen from the water, it frequently moves to the surface to breathe. An air bubble is maintained within the shell and is refreshed at the surface of the water.


Life Cycle






Algae and decaying submerged aquatic vegetation


Distribution Map



4, 24, 29, 30.





  Class Gastropoda (gastropods)  
  Subclass Heterobranchia  
  Infraclass Euthyneura  
  Subterclass Tectipleura  
  Superorder Hygrophila  


Lymnaeoidea (pond snails, bladder snails, and allies)  


Lymnaeidae (pond and melantho snails)  


Lymnaeinae (pond snails)  


Lymnaea (melantho snails)  

The family Lymnaeidae was formerly placed within the suborder Basommatorpha. In 2005 the family Lymnaeidae was placed in the superfamily Lymnaeoidea within the Pulmonata, an informal grouping, which was placed within the Basommatorpha, which became another informal grouping. In this ranking there is no order or suborder. A recent comprehensive molecular phylogenetic analysis of the superorder Hygrophila (Saadi, et al., 2020) placed all members of the superorder in two superfamilies, Lymnaeoidea and Chilinoidea, eliminating the informal groupings.


Subordinate Taxa


Four subsecies have been recognized, but these are not widely accepted.


Lymnaea stagnalis jugularis

Lymnaea stagnalis sanctaemariae

Lymnaea stagnalis stagnalis

Lymnaea stagnalis appressa




Helix stagnalis

Limnaea turgida

Limnaea vulgaris


Common Names


great pond snail

swamp lymnaea











On mosses: A lid or cover that covers the opening of a capsule and detatches at maturity. On snails: The horny or calcareous door-like structure that seals opening of the shell.






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Found on the shoreline in a mound of seaweed.

1 5/8 inches long

  great pond snail  








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Other Videos
  The Great Pond Snail - Lymnaea stagnalis
The Great Pond Snail - Lymnaea stagnalis

Apr 7, 2020

Finally after a lifetime (for some insect that has a lifespan of two weeks) I've found a location that has Lymnaea stagnalis - The Great Pond Snail. I have an unreasonable obsession with these for whatever reason.

  Lymnaea stagnalis
Back Yard Critter Dude

Jun 3, 2021

  Lymnaea stagnalis

Apr 9, 2020





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Location: Lake Shore, MN

9/11/22 Found on the shoreline in a mound of seaweed. 1 5/8 inches long

great pond snail  






Created: 11/14/2022

Last Updated:

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