The Chinese mysterysnail Cipangopaludina chinensis is native to southeastern China northward to Japan and eastern Russia, but occurs in at least 37 US states. As far as snails go, the Chinese mysterysnail is even quite charismatic, growing to be approximately the size of a golf ball and reaching densities around 100 snails per square meter!

Chinese mysterysnail. Photo Credit: Amy Benson, USGS

Despite its widespread occurrence and high population densities, few studies describe even basic ecology and ecosystem impacts of the species. We’re not entirely sure what it eats, but there is limited evidence to suggest that the Chinese mysterysnail may displace native snail species. But at such high densities, the Chinese mysterysnail is hard to ignore. Adding to its mystery, the Chinese mystery snail has appeared in the literature under many different scientific names, including Bellamya chinensis, Cipangopaludina malleata, Viviparus malleatus, V. chinensis, and V. japonicas. The sparse published literature indicates that C. chinensis first arrived in North America for sale for human consumption in Asian markets (Wood 1892, The Nautilus 5: 114-115).

Chinese mysterysnail distribution in the USA

To summarize so far, the Chinese mysterysnail is a large snail that can reach impressive densities, and it has a history of human consumption. We had better start eating!

Hunting & Gathering

Coming soon!


Coming soon!