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Deep in the heart of the Florida Everglades, dense shade and tropical vegetation provide the ideal hiding place for a number of endangered species and weird animals.

Some tourists search for alligators, exotic birds or maybe even a ghost orchid. Some aim to sight the elusive Florida panther, American crocodile, or maybe even a Black bear.  But others, tipped off by a guidebook or Internet post, are looking for beautifully colored, oversized snails, known for their colorful and jewel-like shells.

Found no-where else in the US, the incredibly rare Liguus Tree Snail resides in the hardwood hammocks of Big Cypress National Preserve, and the Everglades National Park.  Their shells, spiraled with pink, yellow, brown, and green stripes, are incredibly beautiful and often resemble jewels.  It is for this reason – their incredible beauty – that they have become incredibly rare.  Human shell collectors (along with crows and ravens) have decimated the snail’s numbers, and very few remain.

While now a rarity, they can be easily found if you know when and where to look.  A short walk through Tree Snail Hammock Nature Trail (off the Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve), during Florida’s dry season, was all it took to see 50 different color combinations of Liguus Snail!

And for those above-mentioned tourists in search of Alligators, they were out in full force as well, guarding the entrance to the Nature Trail, willing only the most adventurous souls to dare pass!

Guarding the entrance to T

Guarding the entrance to Tree Snail Hammock Nature Trail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Everglade (Liguus) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

They solidly attach themselves to the trees.  If they are removed they die.

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Absolutely stunning colour!

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Free hugs!

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Searching for Tree Snails!

Searching for Tree Snails!

Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Finding Liguus (Everglades) Tree Snail

Note that in the photo above I’m not actually touching the snail.  If you are lucky enough to find a snail, leave it alone.

During the dry season the snails attach their shells solidly to trees (they form a covering of mucus and lime across the opening of their shell), and if they are removed they die.

Should they be left alone, Everglades Tree Snails can grow up to two inches in diameter.  Their shell can grow up to 18 cm long.  They are also protected by law in the State of Florida so, you know, don’t break the law!!

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.


  1. Ohhhh those are pretty! I had no idea about all the beautiful snails in the Everglades. I especially like the pink ones that are attached together :)

    • Gorgeous aren’t they! I had no idea either to be honest until we went hiking. I was slightly apprehensive when Mike said we were spending the day searching for snails lol but it was one of the best wildlife encounters! Who would have thought!

  2. The shells are really pretty…problem is,snails are just too slimy for my liking.

    • Yep, I’m happy not touching them and getting mucus and lime all over my hands! :D

  3. Wow, those shells are absolutely stunning! They look like they’ve been painted.

    • A few people have said that actually! They do look like they’ve been painted don’t they!! So beautiful!

  4. Wow absolutely stunning! They live in my own backyard and I didn’t even know it. :-P I’m in North Florida now but have been meaning to make my way down South towards the Everglades, Miami & the Florida Keys. I’ll make sure I swing through the Big Cypress National Preserve and do a few hikes and see if I can spot some!

    • Definitely! It’s funny how that’s always the general rule – we never seem to explore our own backyard before we explore the rest of the world :D Keys are absolutely amazing as well, you’ll really love that area!!

  5. Those are so beautiful!

    • They’re gorgeous right! I couldn’t believe it!!

  6. Megan, that alligator doesn’t look very friendly! I just read an article last night that fishermen have been spotting green anacondas in the Florida Everglades. Also there are Burmese pythons there. Eek!

    • He’s really a softie deep down lol!! Green Anacondas??!! Amazing!!

      We’re heading back out to the Everglades with my parents this week so my husband will be psyched to hear they’re out there lol situations that we say “eek” to he gets excited about – go figure!! Although no complaints here – means I get awesome wildlife photos for the blog lol

  7. Love this…hunting for snails…gorgeous photos.

    • Thanks Corinne! You should definitely plan some time for it if down in Florida :)

  8. I was walking in the Everglades National Park today and saw one of these snails.It was alive and moving slowly.It had mostly brownish pattern stripes on a white back ground.It also had a fine pinstripe.Its cone tip was slightly pinkish.It was different from any of the pictures but definitely from the same family.I had to make myself leave it alone.I got the idea to look on the ground for an empty shell.Which I did find one but it was not perfect.It had a small missing piece so I rejected it.This sighting was what made me look into it and found your site.It was the highlight of my day/I have seen one once before many years ago on an island in the saw grass expanses.The everglades never seem to run out of surprises.I have been walking in them for over 40 years.I wonder if it is against the rules to collect an empty shell from the forest floor?

    • Hi Wade, I’m so glad you had a sighting of these snails too – they’re just so spectacular aren’t they! We had to also make ourselves leave it alone – it was very tempting to reach out to touch!

      The Everglades truly are just full of amazing secrets – it’s one of our favorite parts of Florida. I’m not 100% sure on whether or not it’s against the rules to collect empty shells from the forest floor – I couldn’t find any information on it. My guess would be yes, it probably is against the rules, though I’m sure it’s done by collectors. I’ll see if I can find the answer to that and let you know :)

  9. Remember these as a kid growing up in the Miami area in the 50’s and 60’s. There were hundreds of them every year with many stunning colors. Then over the years there were less and less until we all thought they were all extinct. Glad to find out they are still out there. A nieghbor of ours way back then had one of the most diverse collections of snails and sea shells around back then. He was a wild life Zoologist, named Richard M. Decker. Don’t know what ever became of his collections. I had always imagined they were given to the Smithsonian or Museum of Natural History.

    • It’s so sad to know that species like this used to be plentiful and are now almost non existent. Though that being said, that’s what made a sighting of them incredibly exciting – knowing that they were rare.

      Definitely still out there – they only occupy a very small area of the Everglade nowadays, though it’s still possible to find them around Tree Snail Hammock Nature Trail during dry season :)

      Cool that your neighbor had such an amazing collection – I’ll keep an eye out when we head to the Museum of Natural History! :)

  10. This are incredible would you might if I link your page one my blog? It’s a snail blog.

    The link is: Imagines

    • Thanks for reaching out, so glad you enjoyed the post! You are more than welcome to link to us from your blog. Appreciate it :)

  11. The leaf you’re holding to show the one snail is Poisonwood, a tree with toxic sap that gives most people a nasty rash for several days. Hopefully you washed your hands well to remove the toxins.

    • Good to know! This was a few years ago now, but fortunately nothing came of having held the flora, mental note though!

      Thanks for reading :)

  12. There were, literally, hundreds of these in the trees of Chokoloskee Island when we were there last week! SO pretty!

    • Amazing! So glad you got to see them, and in such huge numbers!! :)

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