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Mitchell’s rainforest snail A Byron Bay Beauty

Mitchell's rainforest snail

Help protect this critically endangered snail from developments

Welcome to the incredible world of Mitchell’s rainforest snail, also known by its scientific name Thersites mitchellae. This small, yet mighty creature is native to the rainforests of Costal New South Wales, where it can be found only around the NSW north coast. The estimated number of mature individuals is low, with an estimated total population of less than 500 mature individuals.

One of the most striking physical characteristics of Mitchell’s rainforest snail is its beautiful, colorful shell. The shell measures up to 5.5 cm across and is reddish brown to black with two distinct yellow bands. The visible soft parts of the animal are black.

Distribution

Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail, a species that was very common last century, is now rare with a restricted marginal geographic distribution estimated to be less than 5 km2. The largest known population and largest remaining single area of suitable habitat is in Stott’s Island Nature Reserve on the Tweed River, in northern NSW.

Diet

Despite its small size, Mitchell’s rainforest snail plays a vital role in the ecosystem of the rainforest. Active at night it is a herbivore, feeding on a variety of leaf litter, fungi and lichen. The snail is also an important food source for larger animals, such as birds and reptiles.

Habitat

The rainforest is the natural habitat of Mitchell’s rainforest snail, it likes lowland subtropical rainforest and swamp forest. It can be found in vegetation on the coastal plain between the Richmond River and Tweed River on the NSW north coast. It has also been recorded from some nearby areas including Wilsons River and Mount Jerusalem. However, it is important to note that this species is considered to be critically endangered, with its population declining due to habitat loss and other threats.

Reproduction

When it comes to reproduction, Mitchell’s rainforest snail follows a fairly typical pattern for snails. The snails reach sexual maturity at around one year of age, The snail lays a clutch of eggs, which hatch into tiny, miniature versions of the adult snail. The eggs are round and white.

Behavior

In terms of behavior, Mitchell’s rainforest snail is a relatively solitary creature. It spends most of its time moving slowly through the undergrowth of the rainforest, foraging for food. However, it is known to be quite active during the rainy season, when the ground is moist and conditions are favourable for reproduction.

Conservation Status

Unfortunately, Mitchell’s rainforest snail is facing a number of threats that are threatening its survival. One of the biggest threats is habitat loss, through continuing agriculture and urban development. Within the species’ range, the main local government areas, Tweed, Byron and Ballina are experiencing rapid development, particularly on the coastal plain, and the small pockets of surviving habitat for this species remain at risk from clearing and development. A number of sites providing known or high potential habitat for the snails have been cleared for development or are subject to development proposals. The snail is also threatened by pollution, predation and fire. The species appears suffer from introduced mammals, such as rats. It is also known that the Noisy Pitta Pitta versicolor eats these snails, and although the bird is a natural predator, it may have a considerable impact on the remaining numbers of Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail.

Mitchell’s rainforest snail is a fascinating and important species that is facing a number of challenges. However, with the right conservation efforts and a little bit of luck, we can help this incredible creature thrive for generations to come. Thank you for joining me on this journey to learn about the incredible world of Mitchell’s rainforest snail. So, it is our responsibility to protect and conserve such beautiful and important species.

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