The channeled apple snail is native from Argentina to the Amazon basin. This species was also introduced to most of southern, eastern, and southeast Asia and the southern part of the United States.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); oriental (Introduced ); neotropical (Native ); oceanic islands (Introduced )
This species is an introduced species and is considered to be one of the worst invaders in recent time in the southeast Asian region. It has mostly been introduced in this region as a food item (Cowie 2002). It has been found in Taiwan since between 1979 and 1981 (Cowie 2002), in Japan since 1981 (Fujio et al. 1991), in the Philippines since either 1980 or 1982 (Mochida 1991, Anderson 1993, Halwart 1994), in southern China since 1981 (Cowie 2005, Shan et al. 2009), and has also been introduced to Korea (probably 1986), Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia (1987), the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra (1989), Thailand (1989), Viet Nam (1988 or 1989) and Laos (1992) (Cowie 2002), as well as Hong Kong (Laup 1991), Cambodia (Cowie 1995), Singapore (Ng et al. 1993), Guam (Smith 1992, Eldredge 1994), Papua New Guinea (Laup 1991, Eldredge 1994), and Sri Lanka (Cowie 2005). The species has subsequently become a serious rice pest in much of the region - in the Philippines it is considered the number one rice pest and has caused huge economic losses (Cowie 2005).The species has also been introduced to North America; into canals and ditches in southeast Florida (Thompson 1997, 1999), Texas, central Ohio (Ghesquiere 2001), North Carolina, Virginia (United States Geological Survey 2011), the Dominican Republic (Cowie 2005), Georgia (NatureServe 2009), Langan Park and Three Mile Creek in Mobile, Alabama (D. Shelton pers. comm. in United States Geological Survey 2011), a pond bordering the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in Baldwin County, Alabama (United States Geological Survey 2011), Lake Miramar in San Diego County, California, a pond near Yuma, Arizona (United States Geological Survey 2011), and in Hawaii (Tran et al. 2008) first on Maui in 1989, followed by Lanai (Cowie 1996) and all of the main islands including Kaua'i, O'ahu, Molokai'i, Lana'i, Maui, Hawai'i (Cowie et al. 2007). In Hawaii the species has become widespread and is a major taro pest (Cowie 2005).
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) This species is wide ranging in South America.
The shell of this snail is globular, from 40-60 mm high and 45-75 mm wide, but can reach 150 mm in length. These numbers vary depending on environmental conditions; the shell grows mostly in the spring and summer but growth slows in the fall and winter. The shell can be yellow, green or brown and has five to six whorls separated by a deep indented suture which gives it the “channeled” name. The aperture is large and oval shaped with males having a rounder aperture than females. However, females in the adult stage are overall larger than males. The operculum is moderately thick, corneous, concentric and light to dark brown in color. The operculum is retractable at the shell opening. The body of the snail can vary in color from yellow to brown and almost black. The siphon has yellow spots and its tentacles are curled under the shell when it is resting. The snail is closely related to other species in the canaliculata group, however, distinctions can be made by looking at the color of the eggs, shell size, angle of indented sutures and shell opening.
Range length: 40 to 60 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger
Catalog Number: USNM 1185844
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Preparation: Ethanol - 80%; Dry
Collector(s): A. Vazquez
Year Collected: 2004
Locality: Lago de Regatas (Regatas Lake), Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
Often confused with another species that has been introduced outside of its native range, P. insularum. Also confused with a number of other closely related species including, P. lineata, P. figulina, and P. dolioides.
The channeled apple snail is found in a variety of different habitats, including the subtropics and tropics in the Amazon Interior Basin and Plata Basin. This species is found in a variety of freshwater areas such as lakes, water courses, wetlands and agricultural areas. Temperature preferences for P. canaliculata range from 18 to 25 degrees C. Temperatures below 18 degrees or above 32 degrees C drastically increases the snail's mortality rate.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; freshwater
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp
Other Habitat Features: agricultural
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Pomacea canaliculata eats microscopic vegetation, floating or submerged higher plants, detritus and dead insects. The channeled apple snail is also known for eating other freshwater snails. Younger snails of this species prefer algae and detritus, while older snails prefer higher plants. They are extremely polyphagous, meaning they feed on an extensive variety of foods. This is important because as their food availability and intake increases, they are more reproductively active.
Animal Foods: mollusks; zooplankton
Plant Foods: leaves; algae; macroalgae ; phytoplankton
Other Foods: detritus
Primary Diet: carnivore (Molluscivore ); herbivore (Folivore , Algivore, Eats sap or other plant foods); omnivore ; detritivore
Pomacea canaliculata is primarily macrophytophagous, but is also known to be a voracious consumer of variety of animals, including other snails. When kept in captivity they are known to consume nearly all plant matter kept in the aquarium and will even prey upon their own young.
In the invaded range they are major consumers of macrophytes often altering the ecosystem states and functions in invaded freshwater habitats.
These snails have been introduced to different areas by humans and quickly spread, particularly in wetlands. In wetlands and natural freshwater systems they compete with native snails for food and cause destruction of native aquatic vegetation. Their quick reproductive rate during high food availability causes them to rapidly change the habitat where they reside. Although the channeled apple snails have many predators, since they move mostly at night they are somewhat protected. Their eggs, however, are mainly preyed on by only one species, leading to high survival rates of the snails' offspring.
Pomacea canaliculata is an intermediate host for the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which is the most common cause of eosinophilic meningitis in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin.
Ecosystem Impact: biodegradation
- Rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis
Solenopsis geminata, also known as the fire ant, is the only species known to specifically prey on the eggs of these snails. Egg clutches produced by this snail are extremely visible due to their bright colors on green vegetation. The distinguishing colors show unpalatability to predators. Experiments demonstrated the egg yoke makes it unpalatable to predators. Another defense against predation is depositing eggs on vegetation with thorns. Adults have a wide range of predators including insects, fish, amphibians, crocodilians, reptiles, crayfish, turtle, mammals and birds. Their main defense is dropping to the bottom and burying into a spot until they get into contact with a hard object like a stone.
- Fire ants, Solenopsis geminata
- Insects, Insecta
- Fish, Actinopterygii
- Amphibians, Amphibia
- Crocodilians, <<
- Reptiles, Reptilia
- Crayfish, Cambaridae
- Turtles, Testudines
- Mammals, Mammalia
- Birds, Aves
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Comments: It has been introduced into canals and ditches in southeast Florida (Thompson, 1997; 1999). Analysis of COI and ND6 mtDNA markers have confirmed the introduction of this species in Hawaii (Tran et al., 2008) first on Maui (1989) and subsequently on Lanai (Koele golf course) (Cowie, 1996) and latger all main islands including Kaua'i, O'ahu, Molokai'i, Lana'i, Maui, Hawai'i (Cowie et al., 2007).
Life History and Behavior
Very little is known about communication between snails in this species, but it is thought that they release a chemical agent. Other snail species will communicate through chemical means.
Communication Channels: tactile ; chemical
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Pomacea canaliculata becomes sexually mature when 2.5 cm in diameter. Reproduction rates depend on environmental conditions and food availability. Reproduction is highest in the spring and summer and lowest in the fall and winter. Average clutch size is 200-600 eggs, laid every few weeks. Eggs are reddish in color and loosely attached to each other, and are attached to an object above surface. Eggs incubate from one to two weeks and after hatching, become juveniles in 15-25 days. The snails are sexually mature adults 45-59 days later. The reproductive period lasts from 2 months to 3 years; this period can decrease with latitude and environmental changes. Life cycles are shorter during good conditions when the snails remain reproductively active throughout the year. Life cycles are longer during tough conditions. When not reproducing because of harsh environmental conditions the channeled apple snails bury themselves in mud and decrease their metabolism while waiting for conditions to improve.
Development - Life Cycle: indeterminate growth
Pomacea canaliculata lives around four years, but will live longer at cooler temperatures. However, they cannot survive at temperatures less than 20 degrees C.
Status: captivity: 4 years.
Unlike most other snails, P. canaliculata is not hermaphroditic. A male and a female reproduce and if water conditions are optimal and food supply is adequate, they may mate. Due to the sexual dimorphism, these snails typically copulate in pairs. Copulation and spawning tend to be time-consuming activities. Intercourse can last 10-20 hours (and males fast during this time) while the egg-laying process can take up to five hours. In addition, males tend to choose larger females in order to produce more and healthier offspring.
Pomacea canaliculata becomes sexually mature when it reaches 2.5 cm in diameter. Reproductive rates depend on environmental conditions and food availability. Reproduction is highest in the spring and summer and lowest in the fall and winter. Average clutch size is 200-600 eggs, laid every few weeks (egg clutch sizes are 2.2-3.5 mm in diameter). The reproductive period lasts from 2 months to 3 years; this period can decrease with latitude and environmental changes. Life cycles are shorter during good conditions when the snails remain reproductively active throughout the year. Cycles are longer during tougher conditions.
Breeding interval: Channeled apple snails breed more frequently in the spring and summer every few weeks and less frequently in the fall and winter.
Breeding season: These snails breed all year but more in the summer and spring.
Average number of offspring: 200-600.
Average gestation period: 1-2 weeks.
Range time to independence: 15 to 25 days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 45 to 59 days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 45 to 59 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous
There is no parental care by adult channeled apple snails after eggs are laid.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning)
All ampullariids (apple snails) are dioecious (i.e. have separate sexes). Fertilization is internal with copulations lasting as long a 18 hours. During these copulations the male snail mounts the female's shell posteriorly and crawls up the body whorl (the largest part of the shell) until he reaches the edge of the shell. He then inserts the muscular penis sheath into the pallial cavity of the female. Once the male has inserted the sheath into the pallial cavity of the female, it then extrudes its thin, whip-like penis through the penis sheath canal and inserts it into the females genital opening. It has been reported that the male uses this sheath to secure himself to the female during lengthy copulations, during which the female may continue to move around and even feed. Additionally, the glands of the sheath may be involved in lubrication, adhesion and nuptial feeding.
Like many snails, female apple snails may store sperm for weeks to months, allowing them to produce fertilized eggs even in the absence of a male partner.
Mating is seasonal and triggered by rainfall and temperature. In its native range of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay P. canaliculata breeds only in the warm summer months. However, outside of their native range, once released from such seasonal fluctuations, P. canaliculata may reproduce year round, particularly in artificial habitats like rice paddies and taro patches.
In Pomacea canaliculata, as in most of the species in the genus Pomacea, females deposit fertilized eggs above the water on emergent vegetation. The developing embryos are surrounded by bright pink/red perivitellins (the major component of the egg yolk) and are encased in a calcareoius shell. The perivitellins are thought to be primarily nutritive, but also serve a protective function, as the pigments block UV light. The calcareous casing prevents desiccation, but remains semi-permeable to allow oxygen penetration. In what seems somewhat odd for a freshwater snail, if the eggs are submerged in water for extended periods the embryos will die. Egg clutches may contain as many as 500 or more eggs. However, this is a small number when compared to the 1000's of eggs often deposited by P. insularum, a closely related species.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pomacea canaliculata
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pomacea canaliculata
Public Records: 93
Specimens with Barcodes: 100
Species With Barcodes: 1
This species has no conservation status.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Within the invasive range for this species, measures may needed locally to control this species, as it is impacting other species within the range.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species is wide ranging in South America.
Within the invasive range, measures may needed locally to control this species, as it is impacting other species within the range.
This species has a NatureServe Global Heritage ranking of G5 - Secure (NatureServe 2009) due to its wide distribution in both its native and introduced range.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Pomacea canaliculata is one of the top 100 “World’s Worst Invaders.” Snails introduced in Asia have been the number one pest in rice fields, which leads to large economic losses in areas such as the Philippines. Snails introduced in Hawai’i became major taro pests. They can spread very quickly from agricultural areas to freshwater and other aquatic environments.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Very little, if any, information is known about positive economic importance for humans from the channeled apple snail. However, they are cooked and eaten in parts of Asia such as China and Thailand. Their invasive nature has made their use in aquarium cultures a concern, and has been discouraged.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food
Comments: It is widely used as a domestic aquarium snail and regulatory changes have banned live Pomacea spp. with the exception of P. bridgesi from any U.S. trade (Cowie et al., 2009).
Pomacea canaliculata, common name the channeled applesnail, is a species of large freshwater snail with gills and an operculum, an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Ampullariidae, the apple snails. South American in origin, this species is considered to be in the top 100 of the "World's Worst Invasive Alien Species".
The shells of these applesnails are globular in shape. Normal coloration typically includes bands of brown, black, and yellowish-tan; color patterns are extremely variable. Albino and gold color variations exist.
The size of the shell is up to 150 mm in length.
The native distribution of P. canaliculata is basically tropical and subtropical, including Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. The southernmost record for the species is Paso de las Piedras reservoir, south of the Buenos Aires province, Argentina.
This species also occurs in the United States, where the initial introductions were probably from aquarium release, aka "aquarium dumping". The non-indigenous distribution includes: Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County, Indiana; Langan Park and Three Mile Creek in Mobile, Alabama; a pond bordering the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in Baldwin County, Alabama; Little Wekiva River, Orlando, Florida; a lake near Jacksonville, Florida; Miramar Reservoir in San Diego County, California; and a pond near Yuma, Arizona. Established populations exist in California and Hawaii.
The species has been found in Chile since 2009 with a restricted distribution.
This species lives in freshwater habitats.
|This section requires expansion. (December 2009)|
Pomacea canaliculata is extremely polyphagous, feeding on vegetal (primarily macrophytophagous, feeding on floating or submersed higher plants), detrital, and animal matter. Diet may vary with age, with younger smaller individuals feeding on algae and detritus, and older, bigger (15mm and above) individuals later shifting to higher plants.
In temperate climates, the egg-laying period of this species extends from early spring to early fall. while in tropical areas reproduction is continuous. The duration of the reproductive period of P. canaliculata decreases with latitude, to a minimum of six months in the southern limit of its natural distribution.
This species is edible. In China and Southeast Asia, consumption of raw or undercooked snails of Pomacea canaliculata and other snails is the primary route of infection with Angiostrongylus cantonensis causing angiostrongyliasis.
In Northeast Thailand, these snails are collected and consumed. They are picked by hand or with a handnet from canals, swamps, ponds and flooded rice paddy fields during the rainy season. During the dry season when these snails are concealed under dried mud, collectors use a spade to scrape the mud in order to find them. The snails are usually collected by women and children. After collection, the snails are cleaned and parboiled. They are then taken out of their shells, cut, and cleaned in salted water. After rinsing with water, they are mixed with roasted rice, dried chili, lime juice, and fish sauce, and then eaten.
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- doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000368.g004 map of distribution in 2007
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- Dreon M. S., Ituarte S. & Heras H. (2010). "The Role of the Proteinase Inhibitor Ovorubin in Apple Snail Eggs Resembles Plant Embryo Defense against Predation". PLoS ONE 5(12): e15059. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015059.
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- Lv, Shan; Yi Zhang, Shao-Rong Chen, Li-Bo Wang, Wen Fang, Feng Chen, Jin-Yong Jiang, Yuan-Lin Li, Zun-Wei Du, Xiao-Nong Zhou (22 September 2009). Graeff-Teixeira, Carlos, ed. "Human Angiostrongyliasis Outbreak in Dali, China". PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 4 (9): e520. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000520. PMC 2739427. PMID 19771154.
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|Wikinews has related news: South American channeled apple snail discovered in Georgia|
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- Levin. 2006. Statewide strategic control plan for apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) in Hawaii
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