Giant Carnivorous Hermaphrodite Snails

The population of giant carnivorous hermaphrodite snails (formally, Powelliphanta) is on the rise in New Zealand, and that's a good thing. Six years ago, New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) found 51 live specimens in Hawke's Bay. Recently, a new survey team spotted 75 live Powelliphanta.
"Powelliphanta are one of our most amazing native invertebrates," DOC ranger Mark Melville told The Dominion Post. "They are carnivores, giants of the snail world. They can live up to 20 years and they lay eggs that look like small birds' eggs."

The snails dwell on damp forest floors and forage for food at night. They mainly prey on earthworms but are also known to eat slugs, using a row of sharp, backward-facing teeth to grab their prey before devouring it using digestive enzymes.

Like some other land and freshwater snail species, powelliphanta snails are hermaphrodites. This means that any adult can mate with any other adult because both female and male sexual organs are present in each snail.

The species has been victim to endangered habitat and natural enemies, but the conservation efforts in areas like Hawke's Bay are proving beneficial.

Link | Image: Flickr User JK and Rocky, CC License

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