Cave Life of The Peak District

Mollusca - Slugs and Snails


Slugs and snails are examples of Molluscs. Most of the living molluscs in caves are gastropods and many are omnivores – like man they feed on a variety of food types.

Most snails are found amongst detritus in the threshold zone.  The Glass Snails include Oxychilus sp. and are common in caves.
Oxychilus cellarius, O. draparnaldi, Discus rotundatus and Vitrea crystallina can be found quite deep in the threshold, even within the dark zone, tucked away in damp crevices. All are widely distributed.
Oxychilus species have carnivorous tendencies. The Cellar snail Oxychilus cellarius produces chitinase enzymes to digest the chitin in the exoskeletons of insects (Becks Level, Water Hole), and O. draparnaldi preys on earthworms (Becks Level). Many representatives of this group give off distinctive odours such as garlic.

Oxychilus sp, Carlswark Cavern


The Bivalves (so named because they have two shells (valves) joined together by a hinge) are another group of molluscs found in both fresh and marine waters.  Marine bivalves include creatures like the cockles and razor shells etc. Freshwater bivalves rarely occur in caves.

Slugs are occasionally found in the threshold of caves. Some species are difficult to identify without examination of the internal anatomy.


Arion sp, Eldon Hole



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