OATA is recommending the UK industry source five commonly traded snails and mussels from UK sources only, particularly if they are to be sold for outdoor ponds/gardens.

OATA has concerns that importing five commonly traded species of snails/mussels, most of which we believe are of UK origin, may present a biosecurity risk in the UK.

While all five species are European natives and present in all, or parts of the UK and the continent, the concern is that imported species might have pests and diseases which could spread to the UK native population when they go into garden ponds. They might also not be genetically the same, posing a risk to native species.

“While this might not seem a big issue we do want our industry to act responsibly when we are aware of a concern. We would therefore ask UK sellers of these five species to not buy imported species which is an easy way to minimise passing on potential hitchhiker pests and diseases,” said OATA’s Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

“We would also ask retailers to ensure they do not sell aquarium snail species for use in outdoor ponds, these include Bellamya chinensis, Cipangopaludina chinensis, Viviparus malleatus (Chinese Mystery Snail/Japanese Trapdoor Snail). We would also suggest they advise customers of the native ranges of Viviparus viviparus and Unio pictorum/Uniopictorum uniopictorum.

“As we approach pond season in the coming months we would always urge retailers to talk to customers about the need to ‘be plant wise’ and share information about non-native aquatic plants and we’d also add molluscs to your ‘do not release’ or ‘keep it in your garden’ messaging to your customers during this popular selling period.”

The five species are:

  • Planorbis corneus / Planorbarius corneus (Ramshorn snail). Native to the UK mainland and widely introduced in Northern Ireland.
  • Anodonta cygnea (Swan mussel). Native to the UK.
  • Lymnaea stagnalis (Great pond snail). Native to the UK.
  • Viviparus viviparus (River snail, sometimes sold as Trapdoor snail).  Native to England & Wales but not to Northern Ireland or Scotland.
  • Unio pictorum / Uniopictorum uniopictorum (Painter’s mussel). Native to England & Wales but not to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The full position statement can be read here.