Zonitoides spp.




Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus (Say, 1819)

Zonitoides nitidus (Muller, 1774)

Common Name

Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus: Quick gloss

Zonitoides nitidus: Black gloss


Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus: The flattened-heliciform shell of this snail is approximately 5-6 mm in diameter and between 2.4 and 3 mm high. It is often umbilicate (navel-like), dark brown and shiny with irregular, faint incremental wrinkles and microscopic spiral striations. The whorls are 4-4 1/2 with the embryonic 1 1/2 whorl being smooth. The body of the snail is blue-grey, including the tentacles. However, the sides and tail are a lighter in color. The sole of the foot is white or gray with paler flecks along the margin. While moving, the foot shows no waves. The aperture is very lunate (moon-shaped) and wider than high, with a thin peristome (edge of shell's mouth). Zonitoides arboreus does not possess the orange spot on the mantle found in Z. nitidus. Also, quick gloss has a slightly flatter spire than black gloss.

Zonitoides nitidus: The flattened-heliciform shell of the black gloss snail is approximately 5.9-7 mm wide, 3.6-4 mm high, dark brown and shiny. The shell has irregular, low wrinkle-like axial striae and a total of 4 1/2 to 5 whorls. The body of the snail is black with a dull orange spot on the mantle. This orange spot can be seen through the shell in contracted individuals. It can be located behind the apertural lip, between the suture and the periphery. The snail itself is completely black except for one pale fleck along the edges of the foot. The black gloss snail can be distinguished from Zonitoides arboreus by the presence of an orange spot on the mantle.

Native Range

Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus: North America

Zonitoides nitidus: Holarctic


Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus:

North America:

  • U. S.: all states but Nevada
  • Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec

South and Central America: Mexico, Costa Rico, Guatemala

Caribbean: Cuba, Santo Domingo, Jamaica, Guadeloupe

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand

Asia: Japan

South Africa

Europe: Prague, Finland, Moscow, Britain, Ireland

Zonitoides nitidus:

North America:

  • U.S.: Alaska, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
  • Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec


Africa: Algeria


Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus: This species can be found in greenhouses and natural habitats and can withstand some desiccation. It is considered to be a key pest in Hawaiian orchid production. It can be found in rotting wood, leaf litter and vegetation. Its movements are very quick for a snail. The eye tentacles are widely separated with characteristically black, slightly bulbous eyes.

Zonitoides nitidus: This species generally lives in marshes, greenhouses and wet areas along the edges of rivers, sloughs, lakes and ponds where it can be found under wood, rocks, and vegetation. Black gloss snails are carnivores and have been noted to be cannibals. This species reproduces mainly by self-fertilization.


Zonitoides (Zonitellus) arboreus:

  • Helix arboreus Say, 1816, [Nicholson's] Amer. Edit. British Encycl., vol. 2, art. Conchology, species no. 2, pl. 4, fig. 4.
  • H. breweri Newcomb, 1864, Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci., 3:118 (Lake Tahoe, Cal.) Cf. H. B. Baker, Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 269: 13.
  • Zonites arboreus Say, W. G. Binney, 1878, Terr. Moll., 5:114, pl. 29, fig. 3; pl. iii, fig. F (teeth).
  • Hyalina arborea var. viridula Cockerell, 1888, Science-Gossip, 24: 257., Custer Co., Colo.
  • Hyalina arborea Say, Von Martens, 1892, Biol. Centrali-Amer., Moll., p. 116, pl. 6, figs. 13-13c.
  • Zonitoides arboreus (Say), J. Henderson, 1924, Univ Colo. Studies, 13: 147; 1929, 17: 102; 1936, 23: 109, 258; Sterki, 1893, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila.,, p. 394, development of teeth.
  • Helix ottonis Pfeiffer, 1840, Arch. Naturg., 6: 251 (Cuba) ; Gould, 1851, Terr. Moll., 2:238.
  • Hyalina breweri Newcomb, W. G. Binney, 1864, Land and Fr. W. Sh. N.A., 1: 43, fig. 66.
  • Helix whitneyi Newcomb, 1864, Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci., 3: 118 (Lake Tahoe).
  • Hyalinia whitneyi Newcomb, W. G. Binney, 1869, L. and Fr. W. Sh. N. A., 1: 32, fig. 37; H. B. Baker, 1931, Nautilus, 44: 98 (identical with Z. arborea).
  • Hyalinia (Polita) roseni Lindholm, 1911, Nachrbl. d. d. mal. Ges., 43: 98 (park near Moscow); cf. Lindholm 1922.

Zonitoides nitidus:

  • Helix nitida Muller, 1774, HIst. Verm., 2: 32 (Fridrichsberg, Denmark).
  • Zonites nitidus Muller, W. G. Binney, 1878, Terr. Moll., 5: 113, pl. iii, fig. A (teeth).
  • Zonitoides nitius Muller, Dall, 1905, Harriman Alska Exped., 13: 42; F. C. Baker, 1920, Life of the Pleistocene, pp. 307, 339, 389; J. Henderson, Univ. Colo. Studies, 13: 147; 17;102; 23;109; H. B. Baker, 1928, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., 80: 38.
  • Helix hydrophyla Ingalls, Miles, 1861, Ist. Bienn. Rept. Prog. Geol. Surv. Mich., p 235, 238.
  • Helix hydrophila Ingalls in coll., Binney & Bland, 1869, Land and F. W. Sh. N. A., 1: 32 (as synonymn of Hyalina nitida Muller; Greenwich, Washington Co., N.Y.).


Abbott 1989; Anderson 2005; Cowie et al. 2008; Horsák et al. 2004; Kerney et al. 1979; Kuznik-Kowalska 2011; Pilsbry 1946; Rosenberg and Muratov 2006

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