Armored Snail 
Scientific Name:
Pyrgulopsis marstonia pachyta
Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: February 25, 2000
Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:

The armored snail is an aquatic snail found only in Piney and Limestone Creeks in Limestone County, Alabama. Snails are mollusks that have coiled or spiral shells covering their soft bodies, and the shells get bigger toward the opening as they grow. Some aquatic snails may come to the water surface to get oxygen, which they can hold within the shell, and some (including the armored snail) have gills to extract oxygen from the water. No freshwater snail can live long term out of the water. The armored snail is a very small snail reaching only 0.16 inches in length with an ovate-conical shaped shell. Other species in its genus have thin and almost transparent shells with incomplete peristomes (region around the opening/mouth), but the shell of the armored shell is much thicker and more pronounced, and the peristome is complete, making this species easily identifiable.

Armored snails are freshwater snails and are generally found among tree roots and non-flowering plants along slow moving to moderate flowing streams. They are also sometimes found in detritus (organic matter and rock fragments) along water edges. This species is more than likely herbivorous, feeding on algae and small pieces of dead or decaying plants in the water. All snails hibernate in the winter and they are "hermaphrodites," possessing both male and female reproductive organs. A small slit appears on the neck where the fertilization occurs and the eggs develop. After hatching from the eggs, the larvae swim freely in the water and soon begin to grow a shell, which eventually weighs them down, making them pedestrian.

The armored snail is only found in two isolated sites along the two short river reaches, and the sites are rather small, covering only a few square meters. These two populations are more than likely remnants of one larger population effected by water deterioration due to siltation and pollution from poor land-use practices and waste discharges. The last two remaining populations were placed on the endangered species list in February of 2000, are now legally protected.

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