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Facts about flax snail

Flax snail, Mokohinau Islands. Photo: Terry Greene.
Flax snail

Flax snail habitat, Taupiri Island, Cape Maria van Diemen. Photo: Greg Sherley.
Flax snail habitat, Taupiri Island, Cape Maria van Diemen

There are three species of flax snail:

  • Placostylus bollonsi - up to 115 mm long (shell length), distribution: Three Kings Islands
  • Placostylus ambagiosus - up to 94 mm long (shell length), distribution: Te Paki
  • Placostylus hongii - up to 85 mm long (shell length), distribution: eastern Northland

These giants were once widespread in Northland before human settlement. Many of them are now endangered or threatened, and inhabit a more restricted area of Northland and the islands offshore.

Interesting ecology

  • Giant snails may live to 20 years or more.
  • Mating appears to be triggered by climatic conditions, such as rainfall, and can last for 10 hours or more.
  • Snail hatchlings spend an unknown period living in trees and shrubs up to 6 metres above the ground.
  • Flax snail diet includes fallen leaves from broadleaf plants.


Flax snails usually live in broadleaf forest and scrub. They reside in pockets of broadleaf litter, or under ground cover vegetation.


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