Otala spp.




Otala lactea (Muller, 1774)

O. punctata (Muller, 1774)

Common Name

Otala lactea: Milk snail, Milky snail

Otala punctata: Spanish snail


Otala lactea: The diameter of Otala lactea's shell ranges from 27.5 to 36 mm and the height ranges from 16 to 25 mm. The non-globular, slightly depressed shell is whitish or brownish and has darker stripes that are speckled. These white specks are very close to each other. The discoloration on the shell may also be either uniformly distributed or it may posses darker fine or gray mottling in the stripes. The surface of the shell is minutely dented or punctuated and has very fine, partly indistinct spiral striations. This species has a distinct apertural lip. The aperture and peristome are liver-brown to black in color. The umbilicus (navel) is inconspicuous. The body of the animal is tan to grey-brown.

Otala punctata: This species is morphologically similar to O. lactea ; however, O. punctata shell ranges from 33 to 39 mm wide and 20 to 24 mm high.

These species can be separated by:

  • O. lactea: A denticular tooth is present on the columella of the shell. The entire apertural lip of the opening (mouth) is very dark brown.
  • O. punctata: Denticular tooth absent. The upper region of the apertural lip of the opening (mouth) is very pale (tan to white), with the remainder being brown.

Native Range

O. lactea: Northern Africa and Spain

O. punctata: Spain and Southern France


North America:

  • U.S.: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas

South America: Argentina

Caribbean: Bermuda, Cuba, Jamaica



Europe: Spain

Other: Mediterranean region


Otala spp. are noctural foliage feeders. Otala lactea has been reported to feed on papaya, lily, anise, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce and yucca plants. This edible snail is often consumed in the Mediterranean region. The milk snail generally exists in rocky heath lands and steppes. The Spanish snail prefers agricultural areas and coastal plains.


Otala lactea:

  • Helix canariensis Mousson, 1872
  • Helix ahmarina Mabille, 1883
  • Helix jacquemetana Mabille, 1883

Otala punctata:

  • Helix punctata (Muller, 1774)


Abbott 1989; Cowie et al. 2009; Pilsbry 1939

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