BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Physa gyrina

What do they look like?

The thin shell has a reddish apex and is a translucent, glossy tannish to brownish-olive color. The shell is sinistral (coiled to the left) with a long opening and can become as much as one inch high and two-fifths of an inch wide. Five and one-half to six whorls are present.

The body is darkish gray with tiny white or yellow dots. The foot is narrow with a rounded front and a tapered point at the back and the mantle lobes protrude over the foot.

Like other snails, pond snails use a pneumostome, or breathing pore, for respiration.

  • Range length
    25.4 (high) mm
    1.00 (high) in

Where do they live?

Pond snails are very commmon in North America, and especially in Michigan.

What kind of habitat do they need?

This snail is found in both permanent and temporary pools, swamps, and other flooded areas. They are found on rocks in wetland areas.

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

How long do they live?

Pond snails can live to be at least a year old.

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    1.0 (high) years

How do they behave?

This snail can move at approximately 2.4 inches per minute. It is able to right itself and in running water will head upstream. Pond snails will crawl upside down on the under side of the water surface, but also drop to the bottom to avoid predators. To breathe, a pond snail must return to the surface to gain access to the air.

What do they eat?

Pond snails have a radula, or hard tooth-like structure, with V-shaped rows of teeth. They use it to feed on algae and diatoms.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

When touched by a predator, a pond snail will thrash its shell from side to side. Also, if disturbed, the snail will expel air and retract into its shell, then fall to the bottom of a pond and remain there for as long as one hour until it must return to the surface to breathe. Finally, if it does get bitten by a predator, a pond snail is capable of growing a new tail section.

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Like other snails, pond snails may be an intermediate host for parasites.

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • ciliated protozoans

How do they interact with us?

Pond snails are tolerant of polluted and brackish waters and may serve as an indicator species of water conditions.

Some more information...

Physa snails may be difficult to distinguish from other kinds of pond snails in the same family, such as Physella. Physa and Physella both are very variable in appearance and are found in similar habitats.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

. "Physa gyrina" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 22, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
Copyright © 2002-2024, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan