The Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata) is also called the Japanese mystery snail and the Oriental mystery snail. Chinese mystery snails are 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’s population and locations in Lake George are currently unknown. Please contact us if you suspect you have found a Chinese mystery snail in Lake George.
Chinese Mystery Snails achieve 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 economic nuisance in addition to an ecological threat.
Identifying the 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 from adverse water conditions.
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.
A Ramshorn’s whorled shell lays flat, unlike the protruding whorls of the Chinese Mystery Snail.