Meet Helix aspersa, otherwise known as the common garden snail. While this gastropod (a type of mollusk such as a snail, slug or whelk) may be a curious subject for photographers, gardeners all over North America have an entirely different (and decidedly negative) opinion of them as they ravage plant life in the wild and around homes. The snail has an intricate calcium carbonate shell consisting of four to five whorls. The shells are usually dark brown broken by patterns of yellow, tan and orange. The body is long and slimy, consisting of a foot and a head with four tentacles.
The snail originated in Europe, but how it arrived in Oregon is not completely known. Helix aspersa is considered a delicacy in many European nations including France (where it is known as escargot), so it’s possible the animal was intentionally shipped as a food source but escaped captivity. Aside from human gourmands, the snail is eaten by birds, reptiles and various insects.
The snail is native to the Mediterranean, western Europe and parts of northern Africa. Due to its popularity as a food item, the snail has been widely distributed all over the world. They can now be found in areas as far away from their native range as Australia, New Zealand and South America. Because the snail is not native to Oregon, it is known as an invasive species.