Chinese Mystery Snail

What is a Chinese Mystery Snail?

The Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata) is also called the Japanese mystery snail as well as the Oriental mystery snail. The Chinese mystery snail is native to East Asia, but were brought into the U.S. in the late 19th century as a possible food source, and appeared in New York a few decades later. They are called “mystery” snails because in spring, they give birth to young, fully developed snails that suddenly and mysteriously appear.

The Chinese Mystery Snail was found in Lake George in 2011. It's population and locations in the Lake are currently unknown. Please contact us if you suspect you have found a Chinese mystery snail in Lake George.


How To Identify a Chinese Mystery Snail

One of the main identification features of the mystery snails is their size. Adult snails are over 1 ½ inches in length (snail shell length is measured from the lip of the shell to the tip of the whorl). Shell color varies from olive green to brown to reddish brown. The shell has 6-7 whorls and no banding. They have an operculum (trapdoor), which seals off the snail form adverse water conditions.

Ecological Threat

The Chinese Mystery Snail achieves very high densities and adversely affects aquatic food webs. It competes with native snails for food and habitat and may contribute to their decline. They may also transmit parasites and diseases. This species also clogs screens on any size water-intake pipe, making them an economical nuisance in addition to posing an ecological threat.


Other Snails in Lake George

Lake George is home to other snails that may be mistaken as the Chinese mystery snail.

Banded Mystery Snail
The Banded mystery snail is smaller than the Chinese mystery snail at 0.75 to 1.75 inches long and has 0-4 dark red spiral bands on its shell.
Ramshorn snail
A Ramshorn’s whorled shell lays flat, unlike the protruding whorls of the Chinese Mystery Snail.


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