Terrestrial Snail Mystery

Data: I recently snapped a photo of a crazy looking purple snail along the Northern
California coast.

A group of us on a photo sharing community have been trying to identify it, but with little luck.


I've uploaded original (largefile) at:


I don't know if it helps, but I've included the EXIF data from the photo at the bottom of this message.

To provide a better sense of the ambient lighting that day, I've posted two photos (Pigeon Point Light Station SHP: State Historic Park ):

1. http://photos5.flickr.com/9127058_23b6593189_b.jpg.
The snail was located in a small garden to the left of the lighthouse.

2. http://photos8.flickr.com/9127055_dbf96c4dc4_b.jpg.
The lighthouse was situated next to the water here.

I've also uploaded a few satellite images and a googlemap:

1. Googlemap (red square marks lighthouse):

2. Satellite imagery (from closest to furthest):

URL for lighthouse info at

Camera: Kodak DX6340 Zoom
Exposure: 0.011 sec (1/90)
Aperture: f/3.4
Focal Length: 5.6 mm
Exposure Bias: 0/1000 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Orientation: Normal
X-Resolution: 72 dpi
Y-Resolution: 72 dpi
YCbCr Positioning: Centered
Exposure Program: Normal
Date and Time (Original): 2005:03:13 11:12:56
Date and Time (Digitized): 2005:03:13 11:12:56
Shutter Speed: 65/10
Maximum Lens Aperture: 24/10
Metering Mode: Pattern
Color Space: sRGB
Exposure Index: 100/1
Sensing Method: One-chip colour area sensor
Custom Rendered: 1
Digital Zoom Ratio: 0/100
Focal Length In 35mm Film: 36
Subject Distance Range: Macro
Compression: JPEG
Image Width: 1524 pixels
Image Length: 2032 pixels

Send Ideas to: Ian



  • Hello Ian,

    I took a closer look at your crazy purple snail photo. What I believe you have is a The brown garden snail (Helix aspersa) that you have doctored in a photo program. Nice picture and you almost got me. The first time I looked at it, I was just out of the hospital, busy and still medicated. looked interesting all right; but today, I see it is a farce. Nice try!
    Give aways: Water in hen and chicken plant is also purple. Shell has purple on it and this just does not occur in the helix family. Snail poop is purple; unless the snail was eating a purple plant of food source, this just does not happen.
    Now if you have an undoctored photo, I will be totally able to id your critter but as stated, I believe it is the common brown garden snail.
    If I am totally mistaken - please give your rebuttal and the info I requested in the earlier email I sent to you...
    Avril Bourquin

  • Although I did "doctor" the photo a little bit (mostly by cropping and adding contrast) the original does show purple coloration.
    I'm not a snail expert, so I can't provide a rebuttal.
    But perhaps this (se above) info will help. Farce? No.
    Thanks again, i ..Ian

  • It seems to me a specimen of the European Brown gardensnail Cornu aspersum, an introduced species, which is commonly encountered throughout California in gardens. I've to admit that the coloration of the animal is somewhat strange.
    Henk M.

  • Harry, obviously the snail isn't purple but it's simply as a result of the type lighting that existed at the time of the shot. Unfortunately, I have a whole folder full of assorted digital "purple snail shots" that I took over at your house on two separate occasions. It's not all that easy to restore the images to the proper color and I've kept the images to await technology to catch up to my bad images...Bill

  • Dear friends,
    This is clearly Helix aspersa. Well, maybe Cantareus aspersus, or Cronu aspersum. The common European garden snail, anyway. The purple color is most unusual, perhaps due to Photoshop?
    Best wishes, ... Cristian

  • Yes,thats definately a Cornu aspersum..Arno

  • So THAT'S what happens when they eat blueberries!... Kay


Return to: