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Liguus is a genus of large tropical air-breathing land snail
Land snail
A land snail is any of the many species of snail that live on land, as opposed to those that live in salt water and fresh water. Land snails are terrestrial gastropod mollusks that have shells, It is not always an easy matter to say which species are terrestrial, because some are more or less...

s, more specifically arboreal
Arboreal locomotion
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In every habitat in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some animals may only scale trees occasionally, while others are exclusively arboreal. These habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals...

 or tree snail
Tree snail
Tree snail is a common name that is applied to various kinds of tropical air-breathing land snails, pulmonate gastropod mollusks that have shells, and that live in trees, in other words, are exclusively arboreal in habitat....

s, terrestrial
Terrestrial animal
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land , as compared with aquatic animals, which live predominantly or entirely in the water , or amphibians, which rely on a combination of aquatic and terrestrial habitats...

 pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Orthalicidae
Orthalicidae are a family of tropical air-breathing land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks are classified in the informal group Sigmurethra of the clade Stylommatophora...


These snails are especially notable for their relatively large size, and for their often brightly-colored shells
Gastropod shell
The gastropod shell is a shell which is part of the body of a gastropod or snail, one kind of mollusc. The gastropod shell is an external skeleton or exoskeleton, which serves not only for muscle attachment, but also for protection from predators and from mechanical damage...

, which sometimes have complex color patterning. Because of their visual appeal, the shells have been the target of heavy collection
The hobby of collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining whatever items are of interest to the individual collector. Some collectors are generalists, accumulating merchandise, or stamps from all countries of the world...

 pressure — a serious issue since some varieties are very scarce, and some are believed to have become extinct within the 20th century.


The genus Liguus is restricted to some of the Greater Antilles
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

) and to Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. Four of the species, Liguus virgineus (Hispaniola), L. blainianus (Habana
La Habana Province
Havana Province was one of the provinces of Cuba, prior to being divided into two new provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque on January 1, 2011. It had 711,066 people in the 2002 census. The largest city was Artemisa .-Geography:...

 and Pinar del Río
Pinar del Río Province
Pinar del Río is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is at the western end of the island of Cuba.-Geography:The Pinar del Río province is Cuba's westernmost province and contains one of Cuba's three main mountain ranges, the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, divided into the easterly Sierra del Rosario and...

 Provinces, Cuba), L. flammellus (Pinar del Río
Pinar del Río Province
Pinar del Río is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is at the western end of the island of Cuba.-Geography:The Pinar del Río province is Cuba's westernmost province and contains one of Cuba's three main mountain ranges, the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, divided into the easterly Sierra del Rosario and...

 Province, Cuba), and L. vittatus (Oriente Province, Cuba [since 1976, divided into five new provinces]), have localized ranges, while the numerous subspecies of Liguus fasciatus are more widely distributed, in both Cuba and southern Florida.


Liguus shares the distinguishing characteristics of other bulimulid gastropods in the subfamily Orthalicinae: large size (about 40 mm (1.6 inches) in length), imperforate umbilicus, a jaw consisting of a limited number of broad plates, and the presence of a penial gland. The shells of Liguus are more slender than those of Orthalicus, the only other orthalicine genus with which it is likely to be confused. The shape of Liguus shells is characterized by Pilsbry as "oblong-conic", versus "ovate-conic" for Orthalicus.


Five species are now usually recognized in the genus Liguus:
  • Liguus virgineus
    Liguus virgineus
    Liguus virgineus is a species of air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Orthalicidae.Liguus virgineus is a type species of the genus Liguus....

    (Linnaeus, 1758) - type species
    Type species
    In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

     of the genus Liguus
  • Liguus blainianus (Poey, 1851)
  • Liguus fasciatus
    Liguus fasciatus
    Liguus fasciatus is a species of air-breathing land snail, a tree snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Orthalicidae.- Subspecies :- Further reading :...

    (Müller, 1774)
  • Liguus flammellus Clench, 1934
  • Liguus vittatus
    Liguus vittatus
    Liguus vittatus is a species of air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Orthalicidae....

    (Swainson, 1822)

Many more species have been recognized in the past based on color varieties in the shell, but these taxa have largely been synonomized or placed as lesser level taxa under one or another of these five named species.


These snails are found on trees of many species, usually ones with smooth bark: false tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum
Lysiloma latisiliquum
Lysiloma latisiliquum, commonly known as False Tamarind, is a species of tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to southern Florida in the United States, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, southern Mexico, and northern Central America....

), gumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba
Bursera simaruba
Bursera simaruba, commonly known as the Gumbo-limbo, is a tree species in the family Burseraceae, native to tropical regions of the Americas from the southeasternmost United States south through Mexico and the Caribbean to Brazil and Venezuela...

), pigeonplum (Coccoloba diversifolia), black ironwood (Krugiodendron ferreum
Krugiodendron ferreum
Krugiodendron ferreum, commonly known as the Black Ironwood or Leadwood, is a species of tree in the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae. It is found in southern Florida, throughout the Caribbean and from southern Mexico to Honduras...

), false mastic (Sideroxylon foetidissimum
Sideroxylon foetidissimum
Sideroxylon foetidissimum, commonly known as False Mastic, is a species of flowering plant in the chicle family, Sapotaceae. It is native to Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, and northern Central America.-External links:...

), poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum
Metopium toxiferum
Metopium toxiferum is a species of flowering tree in the cashew or sumac family, Anacardiaceae, that is native to the American neotropics...

), and Jamaica fishpoisontree (Piscidia piscipula
Piscidia piscipula
Piscidia piscipula, commonly named Florida fishpoison tree, Jamaican dogwood or Fishfuddle, is a medium-sized, deciduous, tropical tree endemic to southern Florida, the Florida Keys, Texas, Caribbean, and Latin America. Native Americans of the West Indies discovered extracts from the tree could...

), among others. In most cases, tropical forests suitable for Liguus have at least some surficial limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, and limestone outcroppings are often present.