Snails are one shell of a mys­tery


The mys­te­ri­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion of thou­sands of snail shells has peo­ple scratch­ing their heads but at­tempts to solve the mys­tery have taken a care­ful step in the right di­rec­tion.

Blen­heim cou­ple David and Pat Ol­liver were puz­zled by the sud­den ap­pear­ance of the tiny shells on their drive and foot­path ev­ery time it rained.

Fol­low­ing a re­port in the Marl­bor­ough Mid­week, David says he was swamped by peo­ple of­fer­ing pos­si­ble an­swers.

Leprechauns, fairies, greedy birds, hi­ber­na­tion gone wrong and a pop­u­la­tion boom have all been sug­gested.

While the mi­nus­cule vis­i­tors have fi­nally been iden­ti­fied as ec­cen­tric grass snails (Val­lo­nia ex­cen­trica), David is still in the dark as to why they love his drive­way so much.

‘‘We were vis­ited by a cou­ple who live in Arthur Baker Pl who have the same prob­lem. They even brought a shell to show us and there’s no doubt it’s the same thing.

‘‘They look ex­actly the same and only ap­pear after it’s rained but, like us, they have no idea where they come from.

‘‘It’s not like some­thing is eat­ing them all as the shells would be crushed. It would have to be a very tiny an­i­mal that could get into these with­out break­ing the shell at all.’’

Ec­cen­tric grass snails grow to be­tween 1.2 and 2.3 mil­lime­tres in size.

The species was orig­i­nally found in the Mediter­ranean and Western Europe and are not na­tive to New Zealand.

One the­ory put for­ward was that the mini mol­lusks are be­ing dis­turbed by the rain but David says that doesn’t ex­plain why they end up on his foot­path.

‘‘The shells seem to be com­pletely empty but I don’t think they’re be­ing eaten as they are all in­tact still.

‘‘We would love to hear from any­body who has any ideas. Some­body’s al­ready sug­gested it could be leprechauns but I don’t think they eat snails.’’


Hordes of tiny snails at home on David Ol­liver’s drive­way have been iden­ti­fied as Ec­cen­tric Grass Snails but how they got there is still a mys­tery.

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